Olipop benefits from social media buzz following accidental early launch of Barbie-inspired flavor

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Olipop
Image Credit: Olipop

Related tags Olipop soda Gut health

Olipop commemorates Barbie’s 65th birthday with a new Peaches & Cream flavor of its gut-friendly soda, as the brand expands into the convenience and gas channel, Steven Vigilante, the company’s director of growth and partnerships, told FoodNavigator-USA.

The Peaches & Cream flavor is available on Amazon.com and will be available at Walmart, Target and Whole Foods stores by the end of May. The flavor was accidentally made available at various Sprouts and Jewel-Osco (Albertsons) stores ahead of the official launch on May 1 – a mistake that played in the company’s favor.

“It is by far our biggest launch ever from a number of retail stores perspective. So, we have very high expectations for it, and it is also peach season ... The timing on it is perfect. It is a very summery flavor. It is sweet [but] not overly sweet,” Vigilante said. 

How Olipop, Mattel collaborated on Peaches & Cream

Toymaker Mattel approached Olipop about collaborating following Olipop’s involvement with Nicki Minaj’s music video for the song Barbie World, Vigilante explained. At the time, Mattel was “gearing up to launch their own big campaign for Barbie’s 65th birthday” and was seeking collaborators, he added.  

Olipop was skeptical about collaborating, as the two companies did not agree on a flavor initially. After several exchanges, Mattel suggested a flavor to commemorate the Peaches n’ Cream Barbie, a top-selling Barbie in 1985, Vigilante noted. 

“They originally were talking about doing a birthday cake flavor, and we obviously try to play in core soda territory, which there is no birthday cake soda,” Vigilante said. “At the very end of the call, they asked if we could do a Peaches & Cream flavor, and ... funny enough, we had formulated a Peaches & Cream SKU two years ago that we were sitting on because we can only launch so many flavors in a year.” 

Olipop is supporting the new flavor with a digital marketing campaign, including a giveaway of 5,000 sodas, redeemable at Walmart stores for any flavor, through Olipop’s Virtual Peaches & Cream Kitchen. 

The Virtual Peaches & Cream Kitchen is a webpage on Olipop's website where consumers can open a Barbie-inspired fridge for a chance to win a soda. The webpage is live, but the giveaway will start on May 10, 2024. 

“We wanted to create some unique experience that is not just launching a flavor but going one step further. And so, playing off the Barbie-ify your life trend that happened last year, and people literally Barbie-ifying their kitchens and their cars, and obviously, their outfits, we came up with this concept to create a virtual Barbie dream kitchen.”  

Releasing early ‘has played to our advantage’ 

While the Peaches & Cream flavor was slated for a May 1 launch, the accidental early release of the Peaches & Cream flavor due to a distributor issue helped drive social media engagement and awareness of the new flavor, Vigilante acknowledged. 

“It is the stuff that falls outside of your control as a brand, and it has been interesting watching it unfold on TikTok because we did not acknowledge it really until [last] week on our socials, and so people are hunting for and hoarding it and trying to figure out what it is [and] why we are doing it. It has played to our advantage to be completely honest.” 

Growing in the C-store channel

With a retail footprint in Kroger, Albertsons, and other major retailers, Olipop is expanding in the gas and convenience channel and sports arenas, Vigilante said. The brand is launching in Wawa and Casey’s gas stations across the US, which puts Olipop “right in the soda set” in these stores.  

"The biggest area of whitespace for us in the US right now is the convenience and gas channel. There is somewhere in the realm of [40,000] or 50,000 grocery stores in the country, and there is north of 200,000 convenience [stores] to gas stations that sell ...  [around] 25-30% of all the soda in the country,” he said. “It is obviously where the brand needs to go to get to the next level." 

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