Goodbye Sierra Mist, hello Starry

Marquette+will+have+Starry+in+the+fountain+drink+dispensers+once+their+product+of+Sierra+Mist+runs+out.+

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

Marquette will have Starry in the fountain drink dispensers once their product of Sierra Mist runs out.

If you are an avid drinker of Sierra Mist, you might want to start stocking up.

Once Marquette runs out of their current shipment of Sierra Mist, it will no longer be available on campus. Instead, students will have to adjust to the new flavors and latest look of Pepsi’s “revitalized” lemon-lime soda known as “Starry.”

“It is a completely new formula with new flavors and taste,” Daniel Braunsdorf, a customer development manager for PepsiCo, said. “We just wanted to completely rebrand the new lemon-lime soda for Pepsi and I think it was a new direction for Pepsi that is going well.”

Starry comes in two different options: regular and sugar free, both of which are caffeine free.

CNN found that Pepsi’s internal team conducted research that found “the demand for lemon-lime soda has never been greater,” leading the company to introduce Starry as a new generation of soda following Sierra Mist’s 24-year career.

One of the reasons behind the move has to do with Pepsi’s biggest competitor: Sprite— which is a CocaCola brand.

Data from Beverage Digest showed Sierra Mist’s piece of the soda market barely even creeping up to a tenth of a percent and had been decreasing over the past five years.

On the flip side, in those same five years, Sprite rose to cover nearly 8% of the soda market.

This led Pepsi to not only rebrand the beverage and come up with a new formula, but to also market to a completely different audience.

The home page of Starry’s website reads “Starry hits different.”

Per the Urban Dictionary, the term “hits different” refers to anything that “is significantly better than usual or is way better under certain circumstances.”

For Pepsi, this marketing is rooted in reaching younger audiences to better increase revenue and sales.

“We wanted to reach a new generation out there, and the bright colors and crisp flavor really showcase the new brand,” Braunsdorf said.

Starry’s social media presence on apps like as TikTok, Instagram and Twitter also point to the new style of marketing that has been at the forefront of the transition.

“You’ll see the Starry brand on a lot of socials and a lot of national commercials as well,” Braunsdorf said.

Starry also sponsored the 2023 threepoint contest at the NBA All-Star Game.

For now, Sierra Mist is still available on campus, but Braunsdorf said that since Pepsi is no longer producing their former lemon-lime beverage, Marquette, and other universities that are under contract with Pepsi, will not be able to order more shipments. Marquette will continue to offer Sierra Mist in dining halls until they run out.

“It definitely tastes different than Sierra Mist,” Max Pickart, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “I taste the lemon a lot and it is way more citrusy.”

Pickart said he drank Sierra Mist “a lot in the past” and said that he enjoys Sierra Mist more than Starry because Sierra Mist is sweeter and less citrusy.

“I think if anything Sierra Mist will compete better with Sprite than this (Starry),” Pickart said upon tasting Starry for the first time.

Currently, Starry is already located in some locations on campus. At the beverage center in the Marquette Office of Admissions, Starry cans are available for prospective students and tour guides. Additionally, the Alumni Memorial Union started housing bottles of Starry in their coolers after winter break, but it has yet to be installed in any fountain soda machines.

While Starry’s Marquette takeover is in the beginning stages, Braunsdorf said that the national marketing behind the new product has been a success and will hopefully ease consumers into the transition between the two sodas.

“People are loving it so far, and I think our goal with the rebrand is to have people think ‘oh I gotta give this a try,'” Braunsdorf said.

Despite the marketing push, some students are still standing by Starry’s predecessor.

“I just don’t see this competing with Sprite, Katy Permanente, a senior in the College of Education, said. “Nothing beats a McDonald’s Sprite.”

For now, Sprite statistically remains at the top in lemon-lime sodas, but Marquette students will have to decide what they like more. 

This story was written by TJ Dysart, he can be reached at [email protected]