In a bid to resonate with younger consumers and adapt to shifting cultural attitudes, soda giants like Canada Dry, 7Up, and A&W are making a significant change – they’re removing the term “diet” from their labels and embracing a more health-conscious approach. The move comes as part of a broader effort to cater to a generation that increasingly rejects the concept of “dieting.”

Amid the rise of the body positivity movement and growing criticism of diet culture on social media, soda companies are reevaluating their marketing strategies. Rather than perpetuating the idea of “diet” drinks, they are now promoting “zero sugar” alternatives, aligning their products with the desire for freedom of choice and a healthier lifestyle.

The shift in branding is not just about semantics; it reflects a fundamental change in the way these companies engage with their customers. Greg Lyons, chief marketing officer at PepsiCo Beverages North America, acknowledges the evolving preferences of today’s youth: “Younger people just don’t like the word ‘diet.'”

Pepsi, a pioneer in this transformation, has been offering a zero-sugar beverage for years. In response to changing attitudes, they rebranded their Pepsi Max as Pepsi Zero Sugar back in 2016. Lyons emphasized the importance of personal choice, stating, “It’s about the freedom to choose what they want without feeling guilty.”

Canada Dry, another iconic brand, is also embracing this shift by rebranding their diet ginger ale as “ginger zero.” A&W, well-known for its root beer, has already transitioned from labeling its calorie-free beverage as a “diet drink” to a “zero sugar drink.” Customers had long questioned the company’s use of the term “diet,” prompting A&W Brand President Susan Senecal to explain, “Zero Sugar Diet Ginger Ale is a clear example of how we are giving people choices and helping them find what works for them.”

Critics argue that those advocating against diet culture aren’t necessarily against dieting itself. Rather, they believe individuals should have the autonomy to make their own dietary decisions, free from external judgment. People, in general, resist the idea of being told how much sugar is deemed “acceptable” by anyone other than themselves.

The new labels reflecting this shift in approach are expected to hit store shelves soon. The soda companies hope that this adjustment will prevent any potential backlash from consumers who have become increasingly critical of the diet culture narrative.

The diet culture phenomenon has faced mounting challenges in recent years, and the future doesn’t seem to hold much promise for its revival. For companies navigating these cultural shifts, rebranding their diet sodas as “zero sugar” drinks appears to be the most prudent course of action. However, the success of this strategy remains uncertain, as some consumers may perceive it as a calculated move to boost profits.

Only time will reveal the true impact of this rebranding effort. While the soda companies are betting on aligning with the changing attitudes of their customer base, the ultimate verdict rests with consumers themselves. Will they embrace these “zero sugar” options as a step towards healthier living and personal choice, or will they see it as a marketing tactic? The answers to these questions will shape the future of the beverage industry.

In a landscape where culture and consumer preferences are constantly evolving, companies must adapt to stay relevant. For now, soda companies are taking a step in a new direction, embracing change, and allowing consumers to decide what’s best for them.