Special Report

10 Brands That Will Disappear in 2018

Source: yonolatengo / Flickr

6. Diet Pepsi

Changing tastes, health concerns regarding obesity and diabetes, and higher taxes are the main reasons for soda sales draining away in recent years. Diet sodas have not been spared, and sales of Diet Pepsi in particular have tumbled precipitously — and that could lead to its demise in 2018.

The overall trend of declining soda sales has been most problematic for Diet Pepsi, which reported a 9.2% decline in sales volume last year, compared with a 4.3% drop for Diet Coke, according to beverage industry publication Beverage Digest.

Diet sodas were introduced to attract consumers who balked at sugary and full-calorie sodas. However, in recent years, concerns were raised over possible health effects of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame in the zero-calorie drinks.

Pepsi tried to address the concerns over aspartame as well as the drop in volume in 2016 by introducing a diet soda without aspartame. The new product failed to live up to expectations.

Soda’s image was not helped when former First Lady Michelle Obama promoted a campaign to encourage kids to consume more water and drink less soda.

Soft drinks have also been in the crosshairs of politicians. In recent years, cities such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Berkeley, California, have passed taxes on sugary drinks to discourage their consumption.

Source: Montgomery County Planning Commission / Flickr

7. Aetna

Aetna is as good as gone as an independent company. Pharmacy and managed care company CVS Healthcare announced in early December that it agreed to buy Aetna for $69 billion in what would be the biggest acquisition in 2017.

CVS wants to buy Aetna to get millions of Aetna members to CVS’s retail pharmacies and minute clinics. CVS is also making the deal to give it more leverage in the event Amazon enters the retail pharmacy business.

Aetna, the nation’s third-biggest health insurer, reported third-quarter revenue of $15 billion and net income of $838 million. Aetna has nearly 47 million customers. The predecessor to the managed health care and health insurance operation was founded in 1853 as Aetna Life Insurance Company.

One person who might not be unhappy about the demise of Aetna is current CEO Mark Bertolini, who could make as much as $500 million in stock and cash when the deal closes.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

8. Sears

The cratering of the Sears brand is not that different from Sears Holdings’ stablemate Kmart. However, Sears is in worse shape. Its same-store sales in its fiscal third quarter fell a breathtaking 17%.

Like other legacy retailers, Sears has been crippled by a crowded bricks-and-mortar industry and the rise of e-commerce, particularly Amazon. While competitors like JC Penney and Macy’s have largely halted their dropping sales, Sears has not come close to a bottom.

Sears’ primary solution to its sales challenge has been to close stores. Most recently, parent company Sears Holdings shuttered 18 Sears locations. The company said it will have to shrink its store count further next year. Some portion of Sears stores could in theory survive a breakup of the company, but the brand is so badly tarnished, it is hard to see the value of it for a new owner.

Source: fiatusa.com

9. Fiat

Fiat is one of six brands parent Fiat Chrysler sells in the United States. Although the brand sells well in its native Italy, with a market share of about 20%, Fiat sold only 1,733 units in the U.S. market in November, down 28% from the same month in 2016. That is barely a fraction of the 154,919 cars and light trucks Fiat Chrysler sold in America last month. A recovery of sales is nearly impossible.

The brand consistently receives poor quality reviews from well-known consumer research firms, particularly Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. Consumer Reports recently named the Fiat 500 one of its 10 “least reliable” cars.

Consumer Reports editors conceded that the headroom in Fiat was good, but they thought the ride was “choppy” and the cabin “noisy.” They also felt the steering wheel was place too far away from the driver and said the vehicle’s rear seats were tight and difficult to access. They derided the cargo area as “minuscule.”

Source: M 93 / Wikimedia Commons

10. Volkswagen Touareg

The Volkswagen Touareg made a splashy debut in 2004, winning Motor Trend magazine’s SUV of the year award. More than a decade later, Volkswagen is focusing on newer models such as the Atlas SUV, so the carmaker is going to phase out the Touareg next year.

When the Touareg arrived 13 years ago, the car industry lauded its smooth ride and responsive handling that made it feel more like a car than an SUV. As an SUV, the vehicle has sufficient cargo space, ample ground clearance, and is known for its off-road drivability. The Toureg also offers a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Touareg’s base cost is $49,495 and it aims at a more premium audience.

Critics like its safety features and comfortable and upscale interior, but say the Touareg’s V6 engine feels underpowered and its fuel economy is left to be desired. They also criticize the fact that the vehicle only seats five and has no third row, unlike the next-generation Atlas.

Lately, the vehicle has been having difficulty finding its audience. VW has not sold more than 1,000 Touaregs in a single month since December 2012. So far this year, sales have been down nine out of 11 months from the same period of a year ago.

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