August 4, 2008
Zevia Hands a Bitter Pill To Truvia and Purevia Brand Naming
The rivalry between Pepsi and Coke is set to get bitter as Pepsi prepares to beat Coke to the punch with a brand new all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener called Purevia that it is launching in its SoBe life drinks in Latin America.
Coke, until recently, called the Cargill inspired product by its "trade name" Rebiana.
Stevia based sweeteners are derived from a Latin American plant in the chrysanthemum family which has been used in cultures for centuries.
However, the FDA will not allow stevia to be used as a sweetener in its traditional form, hence the race between the two cola giants to create a stevia based sweetener that can be sold as a tabletop sweetener and used in a handful of products.
So, for the record, we have stevia, which is a "dietary supplement" according to the FDA, but is not an additive. Truvia and Purevia are chemical derivatives of stevia and are additives that have not yet been approved by the FDA, but should be soon.
Now, a new drink called--wait for it--Zevia has beaten them both in the stevia stakes, telling the world that it is "the first stevia based product to offer a truly all natural alternative to artificially sweetened diet sodas." To add insult to injury, one Zevia executive has said that he is concerned that "Truvia and Purevia have strikingly similar names to Zevia which may result in consumer confusion."
So, we have a brand name called Zevia using stevia to conquer Purevia and Truvia, both created by different companies that used stevia (although one company sometimes called its additive Rebiana).
One of these is a dietary supplement, one is an additive, both can be canned and sold. Nothing that is in Zevia can be used as a tabletop sweetener, however, Purevia and Truvia get that privilege. The stevia that is in Zevia, however, can be used anytime you wish, so long as you don't think of it as a sweetner (although it is indeed sweet).
So consider yourself warned: finding stevia in the USA will be hard (thanks to the FDA), but Zevia, Truvia and Purevia are easy to find.
From a name development standpoint, this is one can happen to a client, a naming company, or us when the same morpheme root (via) is used to create a brand name. It is unusual, but it does happen. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out with trademark law considerations.
I'm sensing that there will be tremendous amount of consumer confusion here.
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