LONDON: The launch of a new 250ml can size in the UK by Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, is a response to both consumers' health concerns and their economic situation, a leading executive has said.

Jon Woods, the general manager of Coca-Cola for the UK and Ireland, told the Sunday Telegraph that the company was a consumer-focused business whose objective was to connect its brand to consumers.

"Through the small can we are really trying hard to find the right connection," he said.

He noted that families' weekly disposable income had fallen 5% in recent years and that the new size was "our most affordable pack ever".

He also argued that consumers wanted different pack sizes for different occasions as they increasingly looked to manage consumption and expenditure. "We are making it easy to do that," he added.

Woods was also combative on the issue of obesity, noting that a standard 330ml can of Coke contained 139 calories. "That's less than the average chocolate bar and that's less than the croissant that you get from the coffee shop in the morning," he said. And the new, smaller cans will contain only 105 calories.

He pointed out that 40% of his business was already zero calorie, observing: "There are very few food and drink businesses that can claim that."

He rejected the idea that the new 250ml size was aimed at children, but suggested that 16-24 year olds were a good target market. "It is affordable," Woods said. "They tend to have less money in their pocket than when they get older."

This age group could also be attracted by the brand's tie-up with Spotify, the music streaming service. The new cans will carry the Spotify logo and, Marketing Week reported, Coca-Cola is working with Blippar to enable consumers to use the can to access music tracks via their mobile devices.

Referring to the recent debate over companies and how much tax they pay, Woods did not think it had affected Coca-Cola, but he acknowledged that there was a "broader issue around trust" which was forcing companies such as his to work harder.

"If I earn the trust of the consumer in the UK then they are more likely to pick me up and put me in their trolley," he said.

Data sourced from Sunday Telegraph, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff