PepsiCo has lured a smartphone innovator to the soda business, as the company searches for the next big thing in drinks. Luke Mansfield, formerly the European head of product innovation for Samsung Electronics, will take on the newly created role of VP-global innovation for PepsiCo's Global Beverage Group, where he will be charged with pushing what a top PepsiCo exec called a "more holistic" innovation agenda.
Previously PepsiCo had put less-senior executives over innovation or kept it at the brand level. But Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo's Global Beverage Group, said "we decided to elevate this to a VP-level role because of the significance of our commitment to innovation and also the shifts that are taking place in consumer demand around beverages globally."
Mr. Jakeman credited Mr. Mansfield with leading the Samsung team that created the Galaxy S5. He also has beverage experience, working as an innovation director at a drinks consultancy, Mr. Jakeman said.
But Mr. Jakeman said he was less concerned about category experience and more interested in innovation expertise. "I really started the search by collecting a subset of those things that I really admired as big, disruptive game-changing innovations, and then kind of followed the breadcrumbs back from that to the people who actually made it happen, and that's what got us to Luke," he said.
PepsiCo, like all beverage marketers, could use some game-changers to reverse sagging soda sales, which have fallen in the U.S., partly as a result of health concerns. Carbonated soft drink volume fell 3% in 2013, according to Beverage Digest.
"The category is going through some significant shifts in terms of consumer demand," Mr. Jakeman said. To adapt to the new era, PepsiCo must continue "to expand our portfolio into a range of carbonated and noncarbonated choices for consumers," he added.
But Mr. Mansfield's duties will extend beyond liquid innovations to include equipment and packaging concepts, Mr. Jakeman said, noting that he will lead a much "more holistic innovation agenda." For instance, he will work closely with Mauro Porcini, who in 2012 became PepsiCo's first chief design officer. "We don't want to 'ghettoize' innovation at PepsiCo. We don't want to create innovation departments, we want to create innovation cultures," Mr. Jakeman said.
PepsiCo, which has shifted to a more globally oriented operating model in recent years, is also changing the responsibilities of two top international beverage executives. Kristin Patrick, who was hired last year as senior VP-global CMO for the Pepsi trademark, will assume responsibility for all global beverage brands, including Mountain Dew, Mirinda and 7Up, which PepsiCo controls outside of the U.S.
Also, Kurt Frenier, previously global VP over flavors, Mountain Dew and energy, has a new role called VP-portfolio transformation. He will be tasked with ensuring that "we continue to offer to consumers a vast array of beverages that fit with their lifestyle and with their requirements," Mr. Jakeman said. As a current example, he referenced Pepsi's recent mini-can push which allows consumers to enjoy "great-tasting, full-sugar beverages" at a "calorie level they find acceptable."