05/08/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Coca-Cola Gets Small with Precious Packaging

I'm a sucker for great package design. I'll buy products I neither like nor need if I am seduced by the aesthetics of the container. And though I haven't drunk soda in years, diet or otherwise, I am smitten with Coke's mini bottles and cans -- sexy, sophisticated, arresting little pieces of pop art. When I happened upon a bottle in an upscale deli, I "oohed" unexpectedly, taken in by the sleek, aluminum contours, ice cold and super smooth to the touch.

Visually, both the can and bottle are strong on uninterrupted swaths of color. The mini bottle is encircled by the logo but devoid of any other text save what's required by law. The logo takes a back seat on the can which, in a brilliant bit of whimsy, features a drop shadow image of the iconic contour bottle -- the diminutive logo on it is almost not needed, so recognizable is the shape.

Strategically, I imagine Coke is trying, like many food brands before them, to offer a low calorie alternative to their normal products. And also like others, instead of changing their product they are reducing portion size. The bottle seems destined for a nightclub or spa crowd, the cans for kids, women and the diet conscious man who prefers regular Coke (though Diet Coke is also housed in these gems). And for the refrigerators of design obsessed people like me.

As a brand marketer, I appreciate Coke's newest effort to stand out in the highly competitive beverage sector. Though the Coca-Cola company boasts a lot of billion dollar brands, the market has grown increasingly competitive in recent years, with new products coming to market with amazing speed. Gone are the days when Coke just had to worry about Perrier (the first fancy water we ever drank); the cola wars of the 80s and 90s may now seem like kinder, gentler times.

A trip to the refrigerated beverage section can now produce choice anxiety: waters -- plain old spring, fizzy, flavored, oxygenated, caffeinated, coconut; energy drinks; fruit based drinks; iced teas -- black, green, kombucha; and the hard to classify aloe. It is a constantly churning market, and though many of these products launch as small local and regional players with weak distribution, some gain momentum and are snapped up by the big boys, where wide distribution and key placement in national chain supermarkets can pose a threat to many of Coca-Cola's products.

So these bottles and cans are a very good move. They'll join the list of other soft drinks that please my my eye -- San Pellegrino's Limonata with its country lemon motif and delightful foil cover; Fuji water's little trip to the islands whenever I buy one; Martinelli's old time apple juice bottle.

So along with body lotion that makes me itch (housed in a marvelous bottle I must dust occasionally), and a unique, beat-up biscotti tin that holds odds and ends, there now sit inside my refrigerator a few jewel-like cans and bottles of Coke.