Some moves are more translucent than others. PepsiCo (PEP 1.29%) is bringing back Crystal Pepsi, the clear cola that was available only for a brief time more than two decades ago before being temporarily brought back late last year in a Pepsi Pass promotion. It's the soda giant's latest move to try to reverse the negative global trend of soft drink consumption.
The throwback soda will be available starting on July 11 in Canada. Stateside connoisseurs will have to wait until Aug. 8 to go back down memory lane -- or create new ones. Crystal Pepsi will be available in 20-ounce bottles at a suggested retail price of $1.79.
Crystal Pepsi will only be available for a limited time, but you know how these revivals go. If it proves popular it will be hard for PepsiCo to pull the plug, especially given the challenges facing the flavored soda market these days.
It's not easy being a pop star
Things aren't going too badly for PepsiCo investors. The stock hit a fresh all-time high last month, and it's trading near that peak now.
Despite the languishing ways of its flagship business -- its North American beverage business saw a mere 1% increase in volume last year -- investors have been rewarded. PepsiCo has come through with 44 consecutive years of dividend increases.
Its well-diversified empire spanning everything from Frito-Lay snacks to Quaker oatmeal to Gatorade performance beverages has helped offset the sting of meandering soft drink sales. PepsiCo and larger rival Coca-Cola (KO 0.73%) are feeling the lack of fizziness. Soda consumption in the U.S. is at a 30-year low, according to Beverage Digest. Consumption fell again last year, stretching the streak of declines to 11 years in a row.
The industry needs a spark, and bringing back discontinued brands to woo back older and now nostalgic soda sippers makes sense.
Crystal Pepsi rolled out in 1992, complete with a Van Halen-scored marketing campaign. The "clear alternative" to colas turned heads, but the beverage never claimed more than 0.5% of the soda market. It was discontinued in 1993.
There hasn't been a shortage of folks clamoring for PepsiCo to give the beverage a second shot, but after Coca-Cola moved to revive Surge in limited fashion in 2014 it opened the door for Crystal Pepsi. It also didn't hurt that a prolific YouTube star -- L.A. Beast with more than 1.6 million subscribers on the video-sharing website -- championed the soda's return.
PepsiCo moved to bring back Crystal Pepsi late last year as a way to promote its Pepsi Pass app. It decided to give 13,000 six-packs away. Now it's hoping to sell a lot more this summer.
It won't just be Pepsi-Co hoping that Crystal Pepsi woos back nostalgic fans. Coca-Cola would also benefit if Crystal Pepsi gets older consumers drinking more soft drinks. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola need a boost, and Crystal Pepsi can only help at this point.