October 10/New York/Reuters -- PepsiCo Inc. is making a major multi-year investment in its soft drink business to restore growth in a business that has declined as U.S. consumers seek drinks they view as healthier.

The first step of the plan is to change the graphics and logo on cans of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist drinks, said Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley. Pepsi plans to follow with a new marketing campaign as well.

Bradley declined to say how much the company was spending on the initiative but said the redesigned packages would be on store shelves early next year.

U.S. consumers had already been switching to drinks like bottled water or tea and are now buying fewer beverages overall as they grapple with a global financial crisis, plummeting stock market and weakening economy.

After decades of growth, overall sales of carbonated soft drinks have fallen in each of the past three years, hurting PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.

In a normal economy, the revamp of Pepsi's soft drinks' marketing could arrest their sales decline, chief executive Indra Nooyi said.

"Nothing will happen overnight. Instead of the (carbonated soft drink) business declining 3-4%, I would have hoped that we could reduce the decline and slowly bring it back to flat," Nooyi said.

"I don't know what the economy is going to look like next year. Irrespective of the economy, we want to give people a reason to come and grab a bottle of Pepsi," she added.

Nooyi also said the company was planning for a recession.

"I think all companies should plan as if we're going to be in that recessionary environment for the next 12-18 months, and that's how we're going to approach the business."

The changes include redesigning the well-known red, white and blue globe on Pepsi cans, calling Mountain Dew "Mtn Dew" on packages and streamlining the graphics.

From the October 27, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash