Sunday, July 31, 2005

Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Splenda, Coke Zero

There are suddenly a lot of different types of Diet Coke. I've noticed regular Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Splenda, Coke Zero (Coke 0), Diet Cherry Coke, Diet Coke with Lime, and Diet Coke with Lemon. What is a Diet Coke drinker to do?

To my mind, Coca Cola is risking customer confusion with so many brand extensions to Diet Coke (itself a brand extension). They must feel that grabbing more shelf space and appealing to people with fairly highly honed preferences in a diet cola out weighs the costs from confusion and diluting understanding of the taste part of Diet Coke's value proposition.

I ran a bit of a taste test with Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Splenda and Coke Zero. I'll try to describe the taste differences with references to Classic Coke.

Diet Coke--This beverage has had a consistent flavor for quite a few years. As near as I can tell, since the New Coke fiasco, Diet Coke has tasted the same. It was apparently designed to appeal to the New Coke or Pepsi Drinker who enjoys a bland, very sweet Cola. To my taste, not as good as Classic Coke but not much worse and no calories, so its usually what I drink.

Diet Coke with Splenda--This is something new I have seen on the store shelves. Splenda is an artificial sweetener made from sugar, so billed to taste like Sugar. Diet Coke with Splenda tastes a bit more like Classic Coke than plain Diet Coke. A little less bland than Diet Coke a little bit of "cola kick".

Coke Zero--This is also something new I have just started seeing. I haven't seen much positioning from Coke on Coke Zero, so I had no idea what to expect. Coke Zero is much closer to Classic Coke than plain Diet Coke and even closer than Diet Coke with Splenda. It is a little less bland and has that small cola kick that Classic Coke has. If you have had Coke Light overseas, Coke Zero tastes just like Coke Light. Coke Zero (along with Coke Light overseas) is my new favorite cola drink, although so far I can't buy it from a fountain, only in bottles and cans.

I'm not sure where Diet Coke with Splenda fits in here. If you like Diet Coke with Splenda better than regular Diet Coke, you will probably like Coke Zero even better.

The flavored diet cokes (Cherry Coke, with Lime, with Lemon) are fairly uninteresting offerings to me. Diet Cherry Coke has the bland, sweet flavor of regular diet coke with a bit of an artificial cherry soda flavor. Not enough of a unique flavor to make it interesting. Dr. Pepper is a better more interesting soft drink in this flavor range to my taste.

The lemon and lime offerings are also based on regular Diet Coke and add just a bit of a different flavor. I add lime if I'm stuck with only the choice of Diet Pepsi and I have access to limes. The lime taste doesn't add much for me if there is no "off" taste to cover up.

Even though the lack of calories and sugar can make Diet Soda seem cost free, I recommend keeping diet soda consumption down. Apparently, the diet cola's are just as bad or worse for your teeth than the sugared colas. There is a lot of acid in these drinks and the acid eats into teeth. I want to preserve my teeth a bit longer, so I only drink soda with meals when I can brush my teeth right afterward.

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