Coke's Citra sets ambitious rollout plan

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Coca-Cola Co. is expected to announce today plans to make its year-old Citra brand available in 50% of the country by March, escalating its fight for market dominance in the citrus segment of the soft-drink business. Previously in just four markets, Citra will be in about 24 markets across the country--including Dallas, Denver and Cincinnati--by the end of this month. The rollout will be supported with new TV commercials from Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, part of a $10 million to $15 million marketing campaign for the brand this year that also includes radio and outdoor advertising, as well as local-market sampling. The expansion comes as rival Dr Pepper/Seven Up, the nation's third-largest beverage marketer, is launching its reformulated 7 UP brand with an estimated $40 million national campaign from Y&R Advertising, New York.


Pepsi-Cola Co., meanwhile, is beginning market tests of its new lemon-lime beverage, Storm. Citra is also seen as a rival to Dr Pepper/Seven Up's grapefruit-flavor Squirt brand. Coca-Cola spent a mere $1 million on Citra for the first 10 months of last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting, as it launched the beverage in south Texas; Austin, Texas; south Florida; and Phoenix. The new advertising will continue the theme "No thirst is safe," introduced with two 30-second spots from Goldberg last year. Those spots will be used again in new markets, along with the additional executions. ``There is a wealth of opportunity in the citrus category. It makes sense for us to put some real muscle behind Citra and to pursue the growth,'' said a company spokeswoman. Andrew Conway, a beverage analyst with Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co., New York, said Citra has the potential to be another national brand for Coca-Cola. He said the initial markets showed "spectacular" results.


According to Coca-Cola, during the brand's first 10 months of distribution in Phoenix, Citra garnered a 1.6% share of soft-drink sales in convenience stores and a 2.3% share of sales in gas stations. Both are channels of distribution where impulse purchases drive the business and are thus viewed as an indicator of consumer interest in a product. Citra, a caffeine-free beverage, is positioned as the "ultimate thirst-quenching soft drink for active, fun times with friends," and targeted to 15-to-24-year-olds. It is one of several citrus-flavor products in Coca-Cola's portfolio now, which includes strong-selling Sprite, Surge, and the regional brands Mello Yello and Fresca.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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