The Clear Alternative

Colorless products aim to capture the clean generation

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Let's be absolutely clear about this: if you can see through it, it's got to be good. Take underarm deodorants. There's Ban Clear and Mennen Lady Speed Stick Crystal Clean. No more of that opaque green stuff. Dishpan hands these days go for Procter & Gamble's lucid Liquid Ivory -- clear soap in a clear bottle -- over white Ivory detergent. Booze? Vodka is in, or maybe a glass of light white wine, or a beer in a clear glass bottle.

The trend, a reflection of the nation's prohealth, proenvironment leanings, has also invaded the $48 billion soft-drink market. Coca-Cola has the latest entry: Tab Clear, a colorless, calorie-free version of its 29-year-old diet drink. Coke says it's being positioned as a "mainstream cola," though it will have to swim against Crystal Pepsi, a low-sodium, no-preservative version of the industry's second-best-selling soft drink, as well as a pack that includes 30 other transparent rivals, such as 7-Up, Sprite and, for the real back-to-basics crowd, water.