Food & Beverage

PepsiCo to launch line of cocktail mixers as at-home drinking booms

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Key Points
  • PepsiCo unveiled a line of cocktail mixers that will hit shelves on Monday.
  • The four drinks, which fall under its new Neon Zebra brand, were created to appeal to consumers aged 21 to 34 years old.
  • At-home drinking was rising before the pandemic, but the crisis has accelerated the trend even more.

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Neon Zebra cocktail mixers
PepsiCo

PepsiCo will launch a line of cocktail mixers under a new brand, Neon Zebra, next month.

The food and beverage giant started working on the products two years ago, before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered bars. Pepsi had already been tracking the at-home drinking trend, particularly by consumers between the ages of 21 and 34 years old.

"They're really looking for convenience and high-quality ingredients in their at-home experience," said Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities for PepsiCo's North American beverage business. "The traditional category norm is those big jugs, like those margarita mixers you might buy for a party and then it sits in your fridge."

In the 52 weeks ended Feb. 13, U.S. consumers have spent $304.6 million on cocktail mixers, up 36% from a year ago, according to Nielsen retail data. In 2019, cocktail mixer sales rose 1.2%.

Q Mixers and Owen's Craft Mixers are among the upstarts trying to modernize the category. In 2019, Pepsi's rival Coca-Cola rolled out its own line of cocktail mixers for dark spirits based on its namesake soda, but the products were only available in the United Kingdom. And Drinkworks, a joint venture between Anheuser-Busch InBev and Keurig Dr Pepper, has created a home bar appliance that makes cocktails using pods.

The pandemic also accelerated the trend toward alcohol delivery. IWSR estimates that by 2024, 7% of U.S. total off-trade beverage alcohol volume will come from e-commerce. That same trend pushed Uber to buy Drizly, an alcohol delivery service, earlier in February. Silver said that Pepsi is looking at some delivery partnerships to help promote Neon Zebra.

The company's foray into the category comes in four flavors: margarita, strawberry daiquiri, mojito and whiskey sour. Silver said that those flavors tested the best among both a general audience and the younger consumers it's looking to target.

"We do potentially see an option to expand this line in the future, but these were the four we felt had the most appeal coming out of the gate," she said.

One 7.5-ounce can of a Neon Zebra mix is supposed to make two cocktails, with three ounces of spirits added to each drink. The mixers will hit shelves on Monday.

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