NEW YORK -- Royal Crown Cola, which introduced the all-aluminum can, diet cola and sodium-free cola to the marketplace, has now created what it is billing as "the world's first premium cola."
"We believe we are creating a new category," said John Carson, president and chief executive officer of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Royal Crown.
"There is a great ability in this country to drink lots and lots of cola. But there is a little bit of cola fatigue. People are looking for something that is a little bit different, and that is why the New Age beverages have been so successful," Carson said.
The company's new Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola is made with premium kola nuts and pure cane sugar instead of the corn syrup used in other soft drinks. It is only packaged in 12-ounce, amber bottles, similar to long-neck beer bottles, but with a screw-on cap. A bottle will retail for 89 to 99 cents, while a six-pack will cost $3.99 to $4.99, depending on the market.
"Our product is packaged in an amber glass bottle to keep it fresher longer. Consumers prefer glass over the PET and cans that most of our products come in by over two-to-one. An amber bottle keeps the product colder longer, and helps keep the natural ingredients inside that much fresher."
Carson told SN the new cola, at 170 calories per 12-ounce serving, is slightly higher in calories than a traditional cola, which has about 150 to 160 calories.
When asked if RC was working on a diet version of Royal Crown Draft, he told SN, "Not at this time. We'll see how we do with this first. It was the sugar cola drinkers who wanted this first, and then we'll see how we go."
He also said it will only be available in a 12-ounce bottle, at least during the trial and rollout phase.
Distribution began last month here and this month in Los Angeles. Royal Crown Draft will gradually be rolled out to other markets, and be national by the end of 1996.
Joseph Payne, Royal Crown's director of marketing, told SN that the company is using a controlled rollout for Royal Crown Draft.
"When we roll into a market we want everybody to know about this, and we're not going to do it in a small way. For example, in New York, we have a van that all summer long will be traveling around the city. We will be sampling on street corners and lots of other places. We will also be doing spot television commercials and lots of outdoor," he said.
In the New York metropolitan area, RC has formed a new network of 70 former Coca-Cola distributors, named Metbev, that will distribute its products. Several delivery trucks have been repainted with giant bottles of Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola on the sides.
Payne told SN that Royal Crown hopes to garner a 1.5% share of the nation's cola market with Royal Crown Draft.
However, he said that while consumers prefer glass packaging two-to-one, Royal Crown will not be switching its RC, Diet Rite and Nehi products to glass containers.
"Consumers prefer glass to drink out of, but they also prefer value pricing. RC Cola is the best-tasting everyday cola on the market, and we do taste tests to prove it. But when you feel like something special we have Royal Crown Draft as well," he said.