Coca-Cola introduced four new fruit-flavored versions of Diet Coke this week in an effort to entice former soda drinkers and LaCroix-guzzling seltzer lovers.
The new flavors — Feisty Cherry, Twisted Mango, Ginger Lime and Zesty Blood Orange — are sold in slimmer, redesigned cans. They were launched as part of the beverage company's endeavor to offset slumping Diet Coke sales, which have steadily declined since the height of soft-drink consumption in the mid-2000s.
According to Beverage Digest, while Diet Coke is still the second most popular soda in the U.S. (Coke tops the list), sales of the drink have fallen every year since 2006. Derek Thompson, a senior editor for The Atlantic, told WBUR's Here & Now that the decline is part of a broad shift toward bottled water, flavored seltzer and energy drinks. Thompson calls this latest rebranding a "moment of panic" for the beverage company.
"Everything that people wanted out of Diet Coke up till say 2000 [to] 2005 has essentially just been outsourced to other beverages that seem to be doing the same thing better," he says, in reference to the hydration, energy and fizzy aspects of soft drinks.
The abandonment of Diet Coke highlights a change in American drinking tastes, Thompson says. The amount of bottled water consumed in the U.S. surpassed soda for the first time ever in 2016, according to data from Beverage Marketing Corporation.