Coca-Cola to discontinue production of Tab soda

3 Nov 2020

As the soda giant Coca-Cola looks to slim down its portfolio and focus on profitable brands, Tab soda has become the latest legacy brand to be put on the chopping block.

Tab soda came around in 1963 and was Coke’s first diet soda brand. While it remained popular for two decades, it lost its luster with the debut of Diet Coke in 1982. Since then, the brand has become difficult to find on store shelves and accounted for a mere 0.1% of the $22 billion in global sales of diet cola in 2019, reported the Wall Street Journal that cited Euromonitor International data.

Coca-Cola to discontinue production of Tab soda
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Other Coca-Cola brands top the charts in terms of diet cola market share with Diet Coke representing 35% of sales and Coke Zero Sugar taking 22% of the category’s sales.

This minuscule market share put Tab in a category inhabited by a large portion of Coca-Cola’s brands. Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey has endearingly termed these brands “zombie brands,” which total over 200 individual lines within the company’s portfolio of over 500 options. Coca-Cola said it plans to cut its portfolio by more than half as these zombies only make up 2% of the company’s profit.

“This isn’t about paring down to a specific number of product offerings under our brands. The objective is to drive impact and growth," Cath Coetzer, Coca-Cola’s global head of innovation and marketing operations said in a statement. The Atlanta-based company only kept Tab alive for those die-hard fans called Tabaholics that continued to enjoy the soda that has been around for nearly 60 years.

However, with Coke’s uncompromising approach to paring down its portfolio, it’s no surprise that a mostly-forgotten soda brand is getting canned. Already, more recent and popular brands have found themselves left behind. This summer, Coca-Cola announced it would close its Odwalla juice and smoothie brand by August, and last month, the company announced it would discontinue Zico coconut water. Diet Coke Feisty Cherry and Coke Life will also be shuttered along with more regional brands like Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Delaware Punch.

At the same time, Coke has invested heavily in some of its star brands like Topo Chico that it recently announced would add a hard seltzer to the brand line.

As the company looks to improve efficiencies in its operations and align its product offerings with areas of high consumer demand, the loss of Tab only represents the beginning of what will end up as a substantial purge in order to facilitate investment in innovation and product offerings that have evolved with people’s tastes.

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