The idea was innovative and compelling. The demand was clear, and consumers expressed great willingness to purchase the new item. The marketing campaign to introduce the new offering was vast, prominent, and well run. The brands involved had great name recognition. So what could go wrong? That’s the question people are being forced to ask in the face of the abrupt departure of the latest Slurpee flavor from the aisles of 7-Eleven stores, less than a month after its introduction.
Fans of the Slurpee, 7-Eleven’s infamous frozen beverage, may tend to include a lot more young people than adults. But the beverage also had been around long enough that many of the adults stopping by a 7-Eleven would love a nostalgic reminder of their childhoods. However, these adult consumers have different concerns than the kids who love sweet, sugary, fruity drinks. Many of them have switched from full calorie to diet beverages in their cola choices.
Recognizing this demand, Coca-Cola and 7-Eleven worked together to develop a Diet Coke Frost, a frozen beverage made with Diet Coke and a relatively subtle cherry flavor. A 20-ounce serving contained only 30 calories. And people seemed to love it. The reviews posted on 7-Eleven’s and Coke’s websites were overwhelmingly positive. Sales were strong.
But the drinks were not always coming out consistently. Although both companies promised there were no safety or health issues, they could not guarantee that the consistency of the drink would be the same for every customer in every store. Some were too thick, some too thin. The reason likely had to do with the chemical properties of artificial sweeteners, which cannot provide the same viscosity as sugar and high fructose corn syrup can.
So for now, even though every member of the supply chain wants to make it work, the supply of Diet Coke Frost has frozen up. Consumers are left with few options: Coke and the laws of physics do not recommend trying to make your own frozen Slurpees at home.
Source: Natalie Zmuda, “Coca-Cola Pulls New Diet Coke Slurpee from 7-Eleven,” Advertising Age, March 27, 2014, https://adage.com