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Pepsi-Cola Plans to Test Extra-Caffeine Cola

September 29, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Pepsi-Cola Co. wants a spot on the breakfast table and a chance at those other moments in the morning when people generally reach for coffee.

Starting next month, the soft drink giant will begin test-marketing Pepsi A.M., a cola drink with about 28 percent more caffeine per ounce than regular Pepsi but 77 percent less than coffee or tea.

Although at least one small producer already is marketing a cola with extra caffeine, the Pepsi test represents the most aggressive move by a major beverage company to encourage soft drink consumption in the morning.

Jolt Co., based in Rochester, N.Y., has been marketing Jolt - which it says has twice the caffeine of regular colas - for four years. One pitch describes Jolt as ″Your Wake Up Call.″

Soft drink makers say they capture only a fraction of the market for beverages consumed in the morning, and industry analysts say recent declines in coffee consumption provide an opening.

Coffee is included in 38 percent of the breakfasts eaten at home, according to a recent National Eating Trends survey by the research concern NPD Group. That was down from 44 percent just four years ago.

Carbonated soft drinks, however, were included in only 2 percent of the breakfasts eaten at home, the same as in a 1985 survey, NPD Group said.

For the past three years, Pepsi’s bigger rival, Coca-Cola Co., has been providing its bottlers with advertising for use at their discretion that promotes ″Coca-Cola in the morning.″

Anthony Tortorici, spokesman for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, bottlers serving about 40 percent of the country are using the in the morning″ campaign.

Pepsi-Cola, which is based in Somers, N.Y., periodically has tried marketing campaigns that positioned Pepsi as an alternative to coffee in the morning. Tod MacKenzie, a Pepsi spokesman, said Pepsi has done so in campaigns with Wendy’s International Inc. and with Dunkin’ Donuts Inc.

But Pepsi intends to go further in its test, altering the drink itself by including 4.1 milligrams of caffeine per ounce of Pepsi A.M. compared with 3.2 milligrams for regular Pepsi and 18 milligrams for a typical ounce of coffee.

MacKenzie said Pepsi A.M. also has less carbonation that regular Pepsi, giving it a smoother taste and addressing the consumer preference for less effervescence in their morning beverages.

The test will be done in the Midwest, but MacKenzie said he could not identify the precisely locations. He said it would be supported by a multimedia advertising campaign and there was no timetable for the test.

″It’s a relatively small test to see what happens,″ said Emanuel Goldman, beverage industry analyst for PaineWebber Inc. in San Francisco.

John C. Maxwell Jr., beverage industry analyst for Wheat First Securities in Richmond, Va., said it is hard to break consumer habits.

″These things are not done overnight. It takes years to train people that a soft drink in the morning is just as good or better than coffee,″ he said.

Pepsi’s move to add more caffeine to a cola drink comes even as it continues to market caffeine-free versions of its regular and diet colas.

Beverage Digest, a trade publication based in Greeenwich, Conn., said Jolt captured less than 0.1 percent of the $43 billion soft drink business in 1988, compared to 20.1 percent for Coca-Cola Classic and 18.7 percent for Pepsi.

Jolt President C.J. Rapp applauded Pepsi’s entry into the extra caffeine segment. ″Pepsi’s new product can only broaden the category Jolt started,″ he said.

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