In December, PepsiCo introduced the United States market to a new, special limited time offer. From December 28-February 22, the Pepsi brand would offer Pepsi Throwback. This version of Pepsi contains real sugar, just as Pepsi products did until the early 1980s. This is the second market trial of Pepsi Throwback, as it had originally been on store shelves in the spring of 2009. As we near the end of this limited time offer, I urge Pepsi to make Pepsi Throwback the standard Pepsi product permanently. Offering a cola product with real sugar and 1970s era nostalgia packaging will benefit the brand. It is a healthier product that will foster goodwill in the marketplace, it evokes positive memories and it gives the brand an advantage over Coca-Cola.
The best decision that Pepsi can make from a product standpoint is to remove high fructose corn syrup. Until the last 2-3 decades, the vast majority of colas were sweetened with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Since high fructose corn syrup was introduced, the nutrition value (or lack thereof) has been intensely debated, particularly in recent years. Many attribute high fructose corn syrup to causing higher rates of obesity. It is not smart strategy to use an ingredient that can be perceived as harmful to health. By removing high fructose corn syrup, Pepsi gains a competitive advantage over chief category rival Coca-Cola, assuming that Coca-Cola doesn’t revert back to sugar as well. Even if Coca-Cola does make the move, Pepsi would retain first mover advantage, and would still be more positively perceived. This move of returning a product to the original formula evokes nostalgia feelings. When a brand can be associated with positive, nostalgic feelings, it is usually a beneficial occurrence.