Using varianting to grow the core: Tango

Post by Charlie White, Managing Partner based in New York.

Growing the core is a particular passion of mine. I saw it in action first hand during the last decade leading brands in the competitive soft drinks category. One brand in particular that stood out was Tango. A recent post explored how Tango refreshed the irreverent mischievousness and bold taste that made the brand famous, in the new Dangerously Potent campaign (below). In this post, we zoom in on how a clear varianting strategy helped Tango grow the core. In particular, we explore how the brand stayed fresh and exciting without proliferating SKU count and diluting the core. 

1. Tightly managing the core 

Over recent years Tango re-focused their core on just three flavours: Orange, Apple and Dark Berry. All are familiar, mass appeal flavours, but delivered with distinctiveness via the bold ‘tang’ of the brand. Each product plays a clear penetration-driving role for the core, with consumers and customers. The brand consistently puts scale investment behind the core variants to ensure they are top of mind. In addition, renovation offered more permissible choices through sugar free versions, as opposed to proliferating its core footprint.

2. Designing a distinctive limited edition proposition platform

Taste and variety are key category drivers for soft drinks, but shelves are not elastic, especially in the highly competitive world of soft drinks chillers. Instead of joining the usual battleground of seasonal variants, Tango looked outside the category to fashion houses for inspiration. A bold new flavour platform called ‘Tango Editions’ took a more strategic approach to flavour news and excitement. The limited edition flavours were elevated from just another variant fighting for seasonal space to a more distinctive, repeatable, year-round proposition. This approach excited retailers and consumers alike. 

The Editions platform applied the principle of fresh consistency. Each new variant was launched with a bold twist on the brand’s familiar visual identity, in zesty flavours that packed even more of  a ‘tang’. A distinctive riot of refreshing fun, each edition has successfully driven incremental Gen Z consumption, whilst also reinforcing the bold Tango flavour experience and accelerated core growth.

3. Creating distinctive execution

With each new flavour edition the brand has also pushed to find new ways to stand out. A disruptive communication partnership with LadBible led to the award winning Hands Off Our Peaches campaign. The new Tango Mango edition using new H!GHEND technology to print the can ends and create an even more visually striking experience. 

4. Creating news without complexity

As every brand team knows, as soon as a limited edition flavour gets traction and starts flying off the shelves, the temptation is to add it to the core range. This approach risks diluting the effect of subsequent limited editions and also creates complexity on the core range. Credit to the Tango team for sticking to their original rotational strategy, with a focus on making each new edition as bold, exciting and successful as the last.  So far the Tango edit has included Berry Peachy (2022), Paradise Punch (2023) and Tango Mango (2024). The first two both won No 1 new product in fruit carbonates (1), so Tango Mango has a lot to live up to!

In conclusion, Tango is a great case study in growing the core through a clear, consistent and distinctive flavour strategy. A tightly managed and heavily invested core range has helped drive reach and penetration, with the disruptive Editions range adding appeal for more adventurous Gen Z consumers.  


(1) NielsenIQ RMS, Total Coverage, Value/Volume sales, Fruit Flavoured Carbonates, Britvic Defined, YTD Calendar year 2023- w/e 30.12.23