"Failure Case Study: Coca-Cola Life" is part of GlobalData’s Successes and Failures research. It examines the details of and reasons behind Coca-Cola’s first moderate-calorie cola’s failure in the UK. It delivers the critical "what?", "why?", and "so what?" analysis to teach you crucial lessons that increase your chances of launching successful products as well as avoiding risks.

In the UK, Coca-Cola Life sold 21.5 million liters in 2015, accounting for just 1.2% of the total UK sales of Coca-Cola’s four main colas. The country has a relatively large market for diet colas, so understandably the new lower-sugar and -calorie cola was considered to have potential. However, Coca-Cola Life struggled to resonate with UK consumers, who could not see the advantages over the already popular zero-sugar Coke Zero and Diet Coke options.


  • Launched in the UK in 2014, Coca-Cola Life contained 36% fewer calories than regular Coca-Cola, due to a formulation that used stevia extract to reduce the sugar content by 37%. Despite a lot of publicity upon launch and a recipe reformulation to reduce sugar and calories further, Cola-Cola Life is now in the process of being pulled from shelves.
  • The "in-between" formulation failed to appeal to consumers, given the brand already had zero-sugar and -calorie options (Coke Zero and Diet Coke) available as an alternative to standard Coca-Cola.
  • Adopting a "middle-ground" approach is risky, especially if it fails to address a genuine consumer need.
  • Soft drinks purchases are driven by brand familiarity, sensory attributes, and health, yet Coca-Cola Life failed to resonate because it did not offer clear advantages over Coke’s existing line-up.
  • Developing breakfast cereal influenced by Western culture to meet local sensory preferences generates opportunities.

Reasons To Buy

  • Reduce the risk of failure by learning from brands/products that have under-performed: failed innovation can severely impact profit and reputation.
  • Understand the relevant consumer trends and attitudes that drive and support innovation success so you can tap into what is really impacting the industry.
  • Gain a broader appreciation of the fast-moving consumer goods industry by gaining insights from both within and outside of your sector.
  • Access valuable strategic take-outs to help direct future decision-making and inform new product development.