Image pilfered from Pepsi Japan's web site
Since many of my readers also read "The Impulsive Buy" (and if you don't, you should), this product's existence should not come as a surprise to you. I'm not sure why this is called "Black" except that darkness appears to be associated with adults. The Adult Sweetness KitKat comes in a black box and is darker chocolate, after all. I guess there may be some vague connection between darkness and adulthood because that's when grown-ups do all sorts of nasty and embarrassing things that they can't do in the bright harsh light of days when judging eyes might witness their actions and unfairly condemn them. You know, things like watching Jay Leno, eating entire boxes of powdered donuts, or picking their noses. Admit it, you thought I was talking about sex there, didn't you? That's how I know you all read "The Impulsive Buy". Great dirty minds think alike.
Of course, Pepsi takes all the fun out of things by saying that the "black" labeling means "not sweet". I'm not sure how that relates to anything in reality. Sweet is a taste. Black is a color. Unless you've got Synesthesia, you're not going to be able to taste a color. It's not like there are no black sweets in Japan with black sesame treats, so this is a connection I'm missing (and talking about this has made me hungry for black licorice).
The main selling point of Pepsi Black, despite the prominence of the lemon flavoring on the label, is that it is half as sweet as regular Pepsi. This makes it essentially a duplicate effort of the previously released "Pepsi Dry." They appear to have smoothed out the aftertaste and given it a lemony bouquet but other than that, it's a re-run of a previous attempt to grab a market which should be just drinking Canada Dry ginger ale. Personally, my guess is this will be the equivalent of watered down Pepsi as a lot of cola flavor comes along with the sugar. Sugar, like salt, is a flavor carrier/booster. I doubt that more cola flavor was added to make up for the short-fall, but I could be wrong.
The strange thing about this is that it is sold in 490 ml. bottles, not the standard 500 ml. bottles. They're gypping people out of 10 ml. It will be released on June 19, 2012, but I must point out that this is not what I'd consider to be a "weird Pepsi" release. This is an expansion of the existing product line with something which, if it sells well, will likely be available for a long time to come.
The last strange flavor was Pepsi Pink and was out in November of last year. Prior to that, there was Pepsi Mont Blanc in October 2010 and Pepsi Baobab in April 2010. You can see that the time lag between strange flavor releases is starting to get longer. My guess is that they don't sell especially well because none of them taste particularly good. My feeling has always been that they do the strange flavors as a PR move to improve the name recognition of their brand relative to Coca-Cola, not because they're testing the market's thirst for esoteric flavors. Despite the impression people abroad have that Pepsi is creative and flooding the market with funky flavors, they clearly release them twice a year at most. I expect that the next odd flavor will show up in the late summer or early autumn (my money is on September), but it's not like I have an inside line at Pepsi Japan.