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Pepsi Pours Mountain Dew in Britain's 'Gulpable Gap'

February 11, 1996|From Associated Press

LONDON — Maybe they're going to bill it as the perfect thirst-quencher after a grueling polo match?

Pepsi-Cola International said Thursday it will introduce Mountain Dew, the soft drink with hillbilly roots, into the British market.

The Pepsi marketer in charge of the deal thinks the English will be swayed by the neon-green color and smooth taste, thanks to less carbonation than other soft drinks.

"How can a color that's so wild have a taste that's so smooth?" Soren Mills said.

This novelty factor will have the initial marketing efforts focusing on Mountain Dew itself.

In the United States, Pepsi touts Mountain Dew as a thirst-quencher for lively, rugged young people who can be surprised and satisfied by the drink even though they are a bit jaded by activities such as hang gliding and cliff climbing.

Also in the United States, Mountain Dew has much more caffeine than the average soft drink, adding appeal to drinkers who want their drink to give them a jump-start.

The caffeine will be toned down a bit in Britain, where regulators recommend lower levels.

Pepsi spokesman Jon Harris in Somers, N.Y., said Mountain Dew has 55 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving compared with 37 for Pepsi and 36 for Diet Pepsi. That's 49% more caffeine in Mountain Dew than in Pepsi.

Harris said that is still four to five times less caffeine than in a comparable amount of coffee and notes caffeine-free versions of Mountain Dew are available in the United States.

Till now, the marketers claim, there has been nothing like Mountain Dew in Britain, which despite its reputation as a place for afternoon tea and pints of bitter beer boasts a soft-drink market worth $12.4 billion a year.

"We identified what we call the 'gulpable gap'--the lack of a truly refreshing blended flavor," said Lisa Roby, marketing manager at Britvic Soft Drinks, Pepsi's bottling partner in Britain. "Mountain Dew will effectively fill this gap."

Pepsi predicted Mountain Dew, with annual U.S. sales of $2.7 billion, can achieve British sales of about $62 million, in the first year.

That would make it the nation's second-biggest selling noncola soft drink, after orange-flavored Tango, sold separately by Pepsi's partner Britvic.

Mills said Pepsi's high hopes for Mountain Dew are based largely on an unusually strong loyalty among its drinkers.

While the average Coca-Cola drinker in the United States consumes about 49.5 quarts a year, the average Mountain Dew drinker almost 55 quarts, Mills said.

Thus, Pepsi says it believes Mountain Dew will increase the size of the market rather than encouraging Britons to switch brands.

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