Canstar Blue’s 2021 cola review sees Pepsi Max, Pepsi Regular, Coca-Cola, Coke Zero and Diet Coke compared on taste, range variety, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Cola is soda-licious! In fact, a recent Canstar Blue survey found that it’s Aussies’ favourite soft drink flavour before lemonade and ginger ale. Besides the everlasting debate over Coca-Cola versus Pepsi and which is better than the other, everyone can agree that cola is a refreshment like no other. But if you’re still unsure which cola product or brand is best, don’t stress. We’ve researched to find out which colas fizzle and which fall flat.
We asked more than 900 Aussie consumers to rate the different products and brands of carbonated cola they’ve purchased from a supermarket or grocer and consumed within the last three months. Survey respondents rated products independently on important factors like taste, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction. Brands that met the minimum required survey sample size (30 responses) are included in the results.
Aussies have rated Pepsi Max best for the second year running, giving it five-star reviews for all categories! These include taste, range variety, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Here are the best cola brands in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:
Pepsi Max once again slurped up a five-star review for overall satisfaction, while most other brands settled on a respectable four stars. The only exception was Diet Coke, which got three stars overall.
It’s worth noting that when it comes to variety, shoppers aren’t just pouring themselves a glass of Pepsi Max. Coke Zero and Diet Coke also scored full marks, similar to Pepsi Regular and Coca-Cola when judged on packaging design.
Pepsi Max is marketed as the low-calorie, sugar-free version of classic Pepsi. It’s crisp, refreshing and marketed as offering ‘max taste, no sugar’ and if our survey results are anything to go by, Aussies definitely agree. Pepsi Max comes in a few different flavours, including:
Prices for a Pepsi Max 1.25L bottle start from $2.35 in most supermarkets, though you can often pick up the 2L bottle variety for even less ($2.10). Supermarkets work in mysterious ways!
Pepsi is one of the most recognisable brands globally, thanks to its distinctive blue labelling, original taste and iconic marketing campaigns throughout the years. It’s long been a popular refreshment for any shindig and meals with friends. The Pepsi range includes:
Prices for a 1.25L bottle of Pepsi start from $2.35 in most supermarkets.
Everyone knows the taste of Coca-Cola. That’s why the recipe for the classic Coca-Cola has remained unchanged for more than 130 years. Coca-Cola comes in a wide range of original and limited edition flavours and also as an energy drink for that extra caffeine hit. Some Coca-Cola products include:
A 1.25L bottle of Coca-Cola costs about $3.15 from most supermarkets, but like with Pepsi Max, you can often pick up a larger bottle for less!
Coke No Sugar aka Coke Zero offers (nearly) the same classic Coca-Cola taste but without the… sugar, duh! Instead, it’s sweetened with the same sugar alternatives as Diet Coke. Coke Zero products include:
A 1.25L bottle of Coke Zero can cost about $3.15 from most supermarkets.
Diet Coke, sometimes also referred to as Coca-Cola Light, delivers a distinctively unique and lighter taste to classic Coca-Cola. It’s sugar-free and contains next to zero calories. Products include:
A 1.25L bottle of Diet Coke costs about $3.10 from any supermarket.
The refreshing ‘bite’ from cola might be the perfect way to finish off a burger and fries, but sugary drinks should only be consumed in moderation. Cola contains caffeine, which can have short-term benefits like increased energy and improved mood. However, regular or excessive consumption could cause anxiety and adverse effects on your health long-term.
Our research found that almost one in four people surveyed (23%) feel guilty about drinking soft drinks, while 16% of respondents have tried to give up the sweet stuff. Alternatively, 21% of consumers surveyed said they opt for sugar-free varieties because they believe they’re healthier.
Ahh that’s a question for the ages. As expected, our survey found that taste is the biggest driver of satisfaction for cola consumers. So, you’ll want to consider whether you prefer a cola with bolder notes of vanilla, cinnamon and citrus, or if you’re more attuned to sweeter cola syrupy flavours. The general consensus is that Coca-Cola products are distinctively bolder in taste, while Pepsi products and supermarket cola brands are usually sweeter in flavour.
Don’t forget though that cola syrups and soft drinks more broadly are high in sugars. So, if you’re looking after your waistline, you may want to opt for zero sugar or ‘light’ cola products. Look at the nutritional information label of different products and check out the calories per serve as well as the ratio of sugars and sweeteners, to food acids and carbonated water.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Pepsi Max dominated Canstar Blue’s latest cola ratings, ranking best in the majority of categories:
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased (from a supermarket or grocer) and consumed carbonated colas in the last three months– in this case, 958 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
Here is the past winner of our cola ratings:
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