CHICAGO — New products from PepsiCo, Inc. tap into consumer demand for bold flavors and multidimensional textures.
The company showcased a range of snacks and energy innovations at the National Association of Convenience Stores’ 2021 NACS Show, held Oct. 5-8 in Chicago. Both categories continue to be key growth drivers for convenience retailers, according to data from Pepviz, PepsiCo’ proprietary c-store data practice.
It’s crunchy time for the company’s Lay’s brand. PepsiCo is dialing into younger consumers’ desire for new takes on existing favorites with the launch of Lay’s Layers. Featuring crispy layered potato bites, the new three-dimensional snack format will debut in the first quarter of 2022 in three cheese and sour cream and onion flavors.
“A trend we’re seeing with Gen Z is that they’re all about texture, so we’re really leaning into that,” said Chris Yemma, senior director of industry relations and commercial communications at PepsiCo. “You can think about it as a multidimensional snack. We launched Doritos 3D last year, and it was a huge hit. It was the evolution of 3Ds from back in the nineties.”
Lay’s Layers also builds on the success of Lay’s Poppables, a texture-forward chip format with a light and crispy texture.
“Lay’s Poppables is a kind of a three-dimensional chip,” Mr. Yemma said. “Layers is the next version of that. It’s rolled up and adds extra layers of crispiness.”
With hot and spicy flavors continuing to dominate consumer demands, PepsiCo is bringing a new generation of heat to the Doritos brand. Launching in the first quarter of 2022, Doritos Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch marks the first time the company is taking the Flamin’ Hot flavor profile to its Cool Ranch line of Doritos.
“Flamin’ Hot was made popular through the origin of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and then we introduced it to Doritos for the first time two years ago with Doritos Flamin’ Hot Nacho,” Mr. Yemma said. “It's a huge growth driver. It’s hugely popular across the Gen Z demographic. Around the country, hot and spicy is growing like crazy. We’re applying Flamin’ Hot to a number of our brands across our snacking portfolio.”
New to PepsiCo’s energy drinks business is the Rockstar Unplugged line. Featuring three functional beverages, Rockstar Unplugged is designed to promote relaxation and uplift consumers’ moods. The zero-sugar beverages contain hemp seed as a key ingredient and come in blueberry, passion fruit and raspberry cucumber varieties.
“It's a dialed back, more mellow version of traditional Rockstar,” Mr. Yemma said. “I think it’s a daypart experience. If you think about traditional Rockstar, it’s more late night, really amped up brand attributes with associations with actions sports and gaming. Unplugged is essentially a different mood.”
PepsiCo shared plans to launch Baya Energy, an energy drink line created in partnership with Starbucks Corp. Few details are available on the new line, but Mr. Yemma said Baya Energy beverages will serve up 160 mg of caffeine and antioxidant vitamin C.
PepsiCo also showcased new Rockstar Energy Fruit Punch on fountain, as well as Rockstar Frozen Energy Fruit Punch, which will be released nationally at convenience locations next spring.
“Energy in general for our company is a huge priority,” Mr. Yemma said. “It’s the No. 1 category outside of alcohol and tobacco at convenience. You’re going to continue to see a lot of energy-focused innovation.”
New products in PepsiCo’s core beverage platform include Nitro Pepsi, which the company calls “the first nitrogen-infused cola.” Debuted on draft, the smooth twist on a classic soft drink will be available in a canned format in retail next year.
In 2022, Mtn Dew will launch Mtn Dew Spark and Spark Zero, taking the popular flavor of raspberry lemonade and giving it a bold, refreshing twist. Hard Mtn Dew, the brand’s first alcoholic innovation, will launch in collaboration with Boston Beer Co. next year.