If you’re trying to kick a soda habit, PepsiCo, believe it or not, would like to offer you an alternative.
As consumer tastes move away from fizzy sugar water, the company is trying to move along with them. PespiCo’s latest venture, Drinkfinity, features a 20-ounce reusable water bottle and disposable flavor pods that lock into the bottle cap and infuse plain old water with one of 12 non-artificial flavors made from ingredients like lemongrass and spirulina.
For this foray, PepsiCo broke with the formula it has used to create new recipes and products for more than 100 years. The company pulled a team out of its corporate offices to figure out Drinkfinity in a coworking space. It altered its usual testing strategy by first introducing Drinkfinity to customers in Brazil in 2014. The pilot inspired major design changes, such as moving the pod from the bottom of the bottle to the top. Then PepsiCo did an internal beta test—a company first—soliciting feedback from 4,000 U.S. employees, who helped identify each flavor’s “mode,” such as “Chill” and “Charge.”
Finally, instead of taking advantage of Pepsi’s presence in grocery stores, Drinkfinity went to market in February on its own e-commerce site, looking indistinguishable from any digitally native direct-to-consumer brand. But the real mission of Drinkfinity is infusing flexibility into the company’s creative process.
“[These products] don’t have to be engineered to last 120 years like a Pepsi Cola,” says Luis Montoya, president of PepsiCo Latin America Beverages. “People are seeking more variety, and this platform can provide it. . . . The taste and habits and even ingredients will have to evolve.” That means PepsiCo now has a template for how to adapt to changing tastes.