Starry represents just the latest attempt by PepsiCo to take a bite out of Sprite: It introduced Slice in 1984; Storm in 1998; and Sierra Mist in 2000. Pepsi tried a variety of formulation and packaging changes over the years for Sierra Mist, to little effect.
“They’ve changed direction on the brand many times, turning it into an all-natural lemon lime a few years ago, then they briefly changed the name to Mist Twst. It’s a brand they’ve never been able to figure out the algorithm for,” said Duane Stanford, editor of Beverage Digest, an industry publication.
Starry would appear to be placing its bets on something rival Sprite has done successfully: market to young consumers.
Packaging on promotional materials for Starry describes it as “a purpose-driven brand built for Generation Z,” and “[a] crisp, refreshing formula with a bite to win share and grow the category.” The packaging said Starry offers “a fun escape” and “a mental recharge” while “taking steps on sustainability.”
Stanford said that would indicate a taste profile that’s likely sweeter than Sierra Mist with heavier carbonation as it aims toward the multicultural palates of younger consumers.
“They don’t want to be another also-ran, they want to make sure they’re looking out for what’s next,” Stanford said. “A kick to the flavor is a way to do that, and not just go after a market that’s already been captured.”