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Business

February 8, 2014

Drink makers offer ways to ditch the can

(Continued)

“How consumers buy products is changing these days. A decade ago, few would’ve believed that the record companies and movie studios would’ve allowed their products to be sold online, and Apple changed all that,” noted John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest, a trade publication.

The demand for greater convenience and personalization is being fueled by Millennials, or people in their 20s and 30s. Marketers say the group tends to shun mainstream brands, instead preferring options that allow for greater customization or choice.

Ryan Mason, a 31-year-old data analyst in San Francisco, said convenience is the main reason that he likes his SodaStream. “Sparkling water in general was a luxury because it was so hard to get home,” said Mason, who used to carry it home on his bike.

People like Mason are why companies see potential in the at-home market. Coca-Cola, which is based in Atlanta, said this week it was buying a 10 percent stake in Green Mountain for $1.25 billion. The deal extends to the development of “Keurig Cold,” a machine that will let people make sodas, sports drinks and other beverages with a press of a button. Green Mountain says it will be introduced in its fiscal 2015, which begins this fall. Pricing hasn’t been determined.

It’s not clear where the deal leaves Coca-Cola’s independent bottlers, which have the rights to sell Coke drinks in certain territories. But in a call with reporters, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent stressed they wouldn’t be left out in the cold.

“This is not a zero sum game,” Kent said.

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