Pepsi-Cola Co. has developed a clear cola soft drink and plans to start market tests the next two weeks in Providence, R.I., Dallas and throughout Colorado.
The nation's second biggest soft drink manufacturer calls the new drink Crystal Pepsi. Analysts say it could expand the $46-billion soda business.
Pepsi executives said that although Crystal Pepsi borrows the name of the company's flagship brand, the clear cola is based on an entirely different formula than is used for the brown-tinted Pepsi.
"It's not just Pepsi without the color," said David Novak, a top Pepsi-Cola marketing executive. "It's a unique-tasting product."
Colas account for about 70% of soft drink sales, but most colas have a distinctive brown color created by the addition of caramel.
Novak said the clear color of Crystal Pepsi should draw attention to the new cola flavor and reinforce its appeal for those who want a lighter drink.
Pepsi said it has been working on developing a clear cola for about 15 months and created nearly 3,000 variations before settling on the formula being used for Crystal Pepsi.
It said more than 5,000 consumers participated in the testing process.
"People describe it as being not as sweet (as regular colas), smoother and extremely refreshing," Novak said. "They tell us it's different."
Crystal Pepsi will have slightly fewer calories per 12-ounce can than regular Pepsi, 130 calories compared with 150 calories, according to Pepsi spokeswoman Leigh Curtin.
Jesse Meyers, publisher of the trade newsletter Beverage Digest, said a clear cola has the potential of expanding the entire soft drink business by attracting drinkers who normally wouldn't consume soda pop.
In addition, he said, the drink will enable Pepsi to make greater use of its existing distribution system.
It has recently taken steps to do that by establishing ties involving distribution of Lipton ready-to-drink teas and Ocean Spray fruit juices.
Crystal Pepsi will be supported by an advertising and promotion campaign in the three test markets. It will be sold in clear 16-ounce and 2-liter bottles with a blue and red label and in silver 12-ounce cans.
He said the firm will "cast a wide net" for customers for the new drink but expects that it will prove especially appealing to people who don't consume many soft drinks.