Mountain Dew Baja Blast splashes into new year with year-round availability, but will it undercut LTO appeal?

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: PepsiCo
Image Credit: PepsiCo

Related tags Mountain dew Pepsico

PepsiCo is celebrating 20 years of its fan-favorite Mountain Dew Baja Blast flavor by making it available in retail locations year-round in 2024, a first for the beverage that originated as a foodservice exclusive.

PepsiCo and Taco Bell partnered to create the tropical lime flavor exclusively for Taco Bell restaurants in 2004. PepsiCo then released Mountain Dew Baja Blast, stylized MTN DEW Baja Blast, as a seasonal LTO in 2014 and is now making the beverage available at retailers nationwide in a bottle and can format for all of 2024.  

To support the flavors' 20th anniversary, dubbed Bajaversary, PepsiCo will also run its first Super Bowl commercial for Baja Blast and is hosting a giveaway where consumers can collect coins for beverage purchases at retail or Taco Bell locations in exchange for Baja Blast-branded merchandise. 

"MTN DEW Baja Blast has cemented its place as a fan-favorite flavor in pop culture and as a staple in countless Taco Bell orders, so we knew we had to celebrate its 20th anniversary in a big way," JP Bittencourt, VP of marketing at Mountain Dew said in a press release​. 

Baja Blast becomes a platform for creative flavors, as flavor innovation remains key in CSD

While switching from a limited-time offering (LTO) to a permanent product has its risk, the Baja Blast has grown from a single flavor to a sub-brand that Mountain Dew can use to create new flavors, Howard Telford, head of soft drinks at Euromonitor told FoodNavigator-USA.  

“Of course, making [Baja Blast] permanent rather than seasonal might undermine some of the special LTO effect, but there’s still a lot of loyalty behind Baja Blast which has become sort of a sub-brand of its own within the Mountain Dew trademark. There have been a few different flavors launched recently under Baja itself (a pineapple Gold SKU a couple of years ago and another guava Caribbean Splash version this summer), so perhaps this is now a platform for some of Mountain Dew’s more tropical and creative flavor profiles.”

Flavor innovation also remains a key area for brand success in the beverage category as consumers are looking for “interesting or limited flavor options rather than the same routine options,” Telford said. While energy-drink brands have found success with rapid flavor innovation, legacy carbonated soda drink (CSDs) brands have had a harder time with such approaches, he explained. 

“If you look at the energy category, constant flavor innovation has been the model for success (i.e., Ghost’s licensing with confectionary brands or Red Bull’s seasonal LTOs) and is now a big part of how these brands generate and maintain interest. Trying to generate this with familiar legacy brands in CSDs is a challenge, and perhaps the impetus for things like the Creations launches we saw from Coca-Cola over the last year (i.e., Starlight, Dreamworld, etc.).”

He added, “However, Mountain Dew has been very successful with this model for a long time – in that respect, a CSD that’s more of an energy drink (i.e., Baja Blast, Voltage, Typhoon, Code Red, etc.), so it makes sense that they’d want to make some of these flavor properties a bigger part of their portfolio.” 

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