For most of my life I’ve never bought in to the whole “cola war” competition between Coke and Pepsi, as they generally tasted more or less the same to me. However, that whole perception changed after coming to Japan and watching Pepsi steadily and carefully up its game here over the years while Coke didn’t do much of anything.
And it’s a huge injustice to the beverage-loving world that Coca-Cola has relentlessly dominated the cola market in Japan to the point that I can’t even find Pepsi in a lot of convenience stores and supermarkets. Even setting aside the countless limited-edition novelty flavors like Christmas cake and cherry blossom that were all masterful, Pepsi has tirelessly updated its core formula to specifically cater to Japanese tastes.
In 2018 they released Pepsi J-Cola which was further refined to suit Japanese tastes specifically. Not only that but there were two versions, formulated to be drunk during the daytime and nighttime. The following year, Pepsi J-Cola begat Pepsi Japan Cola, which expanded even further on the customizing concept through the addition of yuzu. And let me tell you, if I had to chose a hands down “best cola ever” on the spot, Japan Cola would be it.
And they’re still not done!
Suntory has announced that yet another iteration of the Japan Cola series will be released on June 22, named Pepsi Nama Cola, and are declaring it “the most refreshing Pepsi ever.”
The Japanese word nama can be interpreted in different ways such as “raw,” “fresh,” and “life.” For example, nama biru would refer to a draft beer, nama de taberu is to eat something raw, and nama de hososuru means to broadcast live.
Pepsi Nama Cola seems to strive to incorporate all of those meanings. First, there’s its aforementioned unprecedented freshness which Suntory says was achieved by using “raw spices” that were prepared without heating. This is said to give the cola a deeper and more vibrant taste than before.
▼ Pepsi is also giving away two-packs of Pepsi Nama Cola and Pepsi Nama Zero in a Twitter campaign.
All of this was done based on feedback from Japanese people who said they wanted a cola that made them “feel alive again” in the sense of going out and having a life rather than staying home and watching infection counts go up on TV.
It all sounds pretty ambitious, but comments online seem to have faith in the brand.
“I don’t get why it’s ‘nama’ but I want to try it.”
“I hope we can play rock, paper, scissors with Keisuke Honda again.”
“I wonder if it’s like draft beer.”
“I really like Pepsi so I want to try this right away.”
“Eh, normal Pepsi is fine.”
“Nama caramel and nama chocolate both got big, so why not nama cola?”
“If they put Pepsiman in the commercial, I’ll buy it.”
“Japan Cola is gross. I like regular Pepsi better.”
That last commenter has clearly suffered a tragic tongue injury that makes delicious things taste bad, but otherwise expectations are high for Pepsi Nama Cola. Hopefully it lives up to them when released next month and elevates Pepsi to its hard-earned place atop the Japanese market once and for all.
Source: PR Times, Hachima Kiko
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