Dr Pepper Snapple Group tackles citrus-soda category with Sun Drop

PLANO, Texas — A citrus soda made by Dr Pepper Snapple Group is making a major splash in the Southern states in which it’s currently sold. And with plans for nationwide distribution early next year, it has the potential to rival the success of Mountain Dew. 

Sun Drop is made with orange juice and more caffeine than Mountain Dew. Southern fans have used it in everything from glazes for holiday turkeys to alcoholic mixed drinks. 

Although it’s been sold since 1928, the drink didn’t receive its recent boost in popularity until MTV took an interest in it in June 2009. Since then, the beverage manufacturer and the Viacom network have developed a revenue-sharing agreement, and Sun Drop got a publicity makeover; MTV’s new Scratch marketing arm redesigned the drink’s advertising, image and can, which will hit shelves in January. In an effort to reach the 15- to 17-year-old demographic, Sun Drop also will appear in such MTV programming as “The Real World.”

DPS’ sudden focus on Sun Drop stems from the company’s interest in directing consumer interest to flavored sodas, a noncola segment of the soft drink industry in which the company specializes. Cola success has wavered slightly in the past decade; according to Beverage Digest, cola sales comprised 60.5% of the U.S. soda market in 1999, and 55.4% of the market in 2009. In contrast, DPS brands within the market have grown.

"Let's face it," said Jim Trebilcock, chief marketing officer at Dr Pepper Snapple Group, "carbonated soft drinks is a pretty stagnant, slightly declining category. But we're growing volumes and gaining share. It's because we try to create differentiation."