By Katie Deighton
PepsiCo Inc. has redesigned the two-liter bottles in which it
sells its drinks on store shelves in North America, replacing the
familiar cylinders with more sculpted shapes.
The company's largest consumer bottle now curves inward around
two-thirds of the way down the container, with ridges carved in
that are meant to echo the visual identity of each beverage's
branding. Pepsi's indents mirror the curves of its globe logo, for
example, while Mountain Dew's new bottle features mountainous
Although the aesthetic may be flashier, the new bottle also was
redesigned to make it easier for soda drinkers to use, executives
A company audit of its packaging in 2018 found that some
consumers considered the old PepsiCo bottles generic and outdated.
Soda rival Coca-Cola Co. had added its distinctive contour to its
two-liter bottles in 2009; PepsiCo's two-liter bottles, meanwhile,
"had no significant brand features," according to Andy Payne, the
global chief creative officer of Interbrand, a branding consulting
But PepsiCo also reported that some people had trouble gripping
and pouring soda from the two-liter bottle that was then in use,
said Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities at
the company's North American beverages unit.
The research showed that women, whose hands tend to be smaller
than men's, sometimes found it difficult to pick up and balance a
completely round, larger bottle with one hand. Older soda drinkers
who are losing strength in their hands also had trouble gripping
the old bottle, and even people with no ailments sometimes dropped
it when it was wet, PepsiCo's research team found.
"Gripability, and the ability to pour easier as you are sharing
with your family, are pain points that I think we've dealt nicely
with in this new version," Ms. Silver said. The bottle's ridges add
surface friction for a better hold, and the tapered dip measures
10.4 inches in circumference, a size that 90% of consumers tested
found more manageable than the previous 13.4-inch bottle, she
It took PepsiCo almost three years of research, development and
consumer testing to get to this point. Once the company had
established the two-liter bottle warranted a new look, its design
team drafted up thousands of sketches, said Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo
senior vice president and chief design officer. These eventually
turned into hundreds of 3-D printed prototypes that all had to be
tested for structural integrity when filled with carbonated
Mr. Porcini, meanwhile, had to make sure the new bottle wouldn't
cost PepsiCo too much to produce at scale.
"If I do absolutely anything to change any part of the bottle,
I'm going to impact the cost of this product in dimensions that are
difficult to quantify," he said. "Absolutely everything needed to
PepsiCo declined to discuss the cost of the bottles or the
redesign project, but said it was one of its largest redesigns in
recent company history. The new bottles will have minimal impact on
the efficiency of PepsiCo's manufacturing lines, a spokeswoman
The company ultimately hopes the new bottle design will help it
sell more soda. PepsiCo held a 29.4% dollar share of U.S.
carbonated soft drink sales at retail, including grocery and
convenience, for the first nine months of 2020, according to the
industry tracker Beverage Digest. Coca-Cola led the industry with a
40.9% share during the same period, Beverage Digest said.
PepsiCo thinks consumers will get used to -- and then expect --
an easier pouring experience from big bottles, and consequently buy
more from its two-liter portfolio, said Mr. Porcini. The new design
also will help sales by catching shoppers' eyes and expanding
branding on the package beyond the label, he said.
One design expert criticized PepsiCo, however, for investing in
yet another plastic item at a time when consumers are looking for
"Pepsi has achieved an ergonomic and brand triumph: a bottle
that's easier to use with subtle brand expressions," said Vicky
Bullen, chief executive of brand and design agency Coley Porter
Bell. "What it hasn't achieved is a significant reduction in
plastic at a time when that should have been a significant
PepsiCo said the new bottle uses the same amount of plastic as
the old two-liter flask, but there is less plastic in the
The company has goals of using 35% less virgin plastic in its
beverage business by 2025 and making 100% of its packaging
recyclable, compostable or biodegradable, up from almost 90% in
Its Lifewtr drinks are sold in 100% recycled plastic bottles,
and its bubly sparkling water line is now packaged only in aluminum
cans, a company spokeswoman said.
Write to Katie Deighton at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 20, 2020 16:30 ET (21:30 GMT)
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