Coca-Cola’s latest mystery flavor is here. It was created by AI | CNN Business

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For about a year and a half, Coca-Cola has been experimenting with limited-edition drinks that come in mysterious flavors, most of them with vague, futuristic concepts and hidden flavors.

The latest one, Coca-Cola Y3000, is perfect. The only distinction: it should taste like the future. Fittingly, the soft drink giant used artificial intelligence to determine flavor and packaging.

For Coca-Cola it is important to keep customers, especially younger ones, enthusiastic about Coca-Cola, its more than century-old product. In recent years, health-conscious consumers have shunned sugary drinks, making it harder for soda marketers to market their mainstream brands. Coca-Cola has used its Creations platform, responsible for limited-edition flavors like Y3000, to try to make the brand resonate with younger consumers.

Like all Creations drinks, Coca-Cola Y3000 is designed to taste mostly like Coca Cola, with a little bit of something else. To get that extra flavor note and packaging design, Coca-Cola turned to artificial intelligence.

The company relied on normal human intuitions to find out what flavors people associate with the future. Then it used artificial intelligence to help figure out flavor pairings and profiles, a spokesperson said. For product packaging that seems to hint at a Y2K aesthetic with original bubbles, pink and blue coloring and a pixelated logo Coca-Cola used AI-generated images to create a mood board for inspiration. Aluminum can also give credit where it’s due, prominently pointing out that it was co-created with artificial intelligence.

Y3000, available in zero- and full-sugar varieties in the United States and Canada, will be sold for a limited time starting Tuesday and will cost the same as regular Coke.

As with other flavors on the Coca-Colas Creations platform, Y3000 pairs online experiences with real-life events or products. Customers can scan a QR code on the Y3000 packaging to reach the Creations site, where they can play with what the future might look like in 977 years.

The launch also includes a limited-edition capsule collection developed with luxury streetwear brand Ambush, available on the brand’s website this fall. Coca-Cola has also collaborated with fashion brand Highsnobiety on a collection in the past.

Space, dreams and pixels

Coca-Cola has released a number of limited edition flavors through Creations, most recently Coca-Cola Ultimate, aimed at gamers and made in collaboration with Riot Games, publisher of the multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends.

Before Ultimate came the space-inspired Starlight; Dreamworld, which according to the company has the flavor of dreams; and Byte, which it should have A pixel flavor. Coca-Cola has also collaborated with musicians Rosala and Marshmello on limited edition flavors.

With the exception of the Marshmello drink (flavored not with marshmallow, but with strawberry and watermelon), Coca-Cola has remained silent on what these products should taste like.

We will never answer that question directly, Oana Vlad, Coca-Cola’s senior director of global strategy, previously told CNN. But the flavor profile is always, say, 85 to 90% Coca-Cola. And then that 10 to 15% twist of something unexpected.

The flavors aren’t designed to become permanent offerings, CEO James Quincey said at the Redburn CEO conference last year.

They’re more engaging and more interesting, demonstrably, than one flavor, a Coke with vanilla or something like that, he said. Testing the boundaries is a matter of engaging with consumers.

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