Coca-cola Zero case study


Market Research, Category Management, Store Segmentation, Location Activation

“S2 have been working with us for many years on consumer research, strategy and insights projects. They were the perfect choice to help us understand the behaviours and motivations of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar drinkers.’

James Moore, National & Key Accounts Manager

The Brief

To combat the rise in obesity and health related issues, the food and drink industry and other pressure groups are increasingly demanding a switch from high sugar products.

Against this backdrop, Coca-Cola European Partners, (CCEP), commissioned a research project in the on trade to explore consumer’s reactions to a proposed change in default serving from Coca-Cola Classic to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar (Zero Sugar).

Focus group research explored consumer’s attitudes, perceptions and assumptions of the two brands before and after taste tests which covered soft drinks, spirit mixers and cocktails.

The research results are required to help inform Coca-Cola’s on trade customers about consumer perceptions and choices, and to identify the best point of sale and merchandising material required to communicate the change and potential impact on category sales.

Our Approach

Consumer focus groups took place at selected managed pub outlets, across value, mainstream and premium pubs in different geographical regional locations to account for local taste bias and across both wet and dry led environments to ensure coverage of both drinking occasions.

The objectives of the research covered the following:

  • To understand consumer’s habits when ordering a carbonated cola as a solo choice, as a mixer or within cocktails.
  • To understand public response to the concept of replacing Coke Classic with Coke Zero Sugar in these situations.

  • To explore the impact of this change on brand perceptions and attitudes to brand choice.

  • To explore attitudes to concept communication at point of purchase.

  • To conduct taste tests to understand consumer reactions to Coke Zero Sugar replacing Coke Classic in terms of recognition of change and impact of this change on choice of drinks.

The Result

Research headlines defined how well Coca-Cola Zero Sugar performs as a soft drink against taste, health and choice criteria. Detailed analysis of perceived and actual consumer feedback included how Zero Sugar performs against Coke Classic and Diet Coke as a soft drink and a mixer in blind taste tests.

S2 also included the brand’s relevance to soft drink ‘moments’ and a clear recommendation on which POS and merchandising material works best for each identified consumer occasion.

Additional guidelines on communication methods to key on trade retail customers was geared to ensuring that staff properly communicate to consumers the health and taste benefits of a potential switch to Coke Zero Sugar.


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