Customers didn't play along: Nestea cancels relaunch

In 2018, the global brand Nestea completed an elaborate relaunch. This flopped so much that it is now being reversed.


From the new appearance (left) back to the original (right): Nestlé reverses the relaunch of Nestea.


A relaunch is often good for a brand and usually provides a breath of fresh air - but sometimes it backfires. A current example of this is Nestlé's subsidiary Nestea, as the Handelszeitung revealed last week. In March 2018, the group had the popular iced tea brand completely revamped: New recipes, new visual identity, new brand philosophy.

The reason for the relaunch was not only the tea pioneer's 70th birthday, but also the departure of long-time iced tea joint venture partner Coca-Cola the year before. The beverage manufacturer, with whom Nestlé had promoted the Nestea brand for 25 years, parted company and launched its own iced tea brand, Fuze Tea (Switzerland: Fuse Tea). The launch was accompanied by a multi-million euro advertising campaign throughout Europe. Fuze Tea became an instant success and the Nestea brand, which had come under pressure as a result, was forced to reinvent itself.

However, the relaunch flopped in all relevant markets. In its home market of Switzerland, Nestea even disappeared from the shelves of many retailers. Nestlé's Head of Tea, Gareth Jones, explains to the Handelszeitunghow it could have come to this. The new Nestea had performed well in preliminary tests and "the new bottle looked great", but consumers no longer recognised their visually changed brand in the supermarkets. 

Ex-partner Coca-Cola makes relaunch difficult for Nestlé

The situation was further complicated by the fact that Coca-Cola launched a large-scale advertising campaign for its new Fuze Tea product at the same time as the Nestea relaunch - with a budget in the tens of millions. This contrasts with Nestea's modest budget: "We were able to spend a few tens of thousands," says Jones. And critically, he admits, "We changed everything in the Nestea relaunch. And it went wrong." If you change too much at once, instead of small things step by step, you have more problems when it comes to correcting it.

Nestlé's correction to the relaunch flop happened quickly. For a supertanker like Nestlé, which normally can hardly change its share price at short notice, this was a quick reaction, finds the Handelszeitung. The company is thus showing courage in burying a failed relaunch.

The old, tried and tested Nestea should be back on the shelves as early as the end of August. On the Nestlé page the original is already present again. However, the brand page is currently switched off: "The site you are looking for could not be found."

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