Posted by: | 24th Feb, 2011

The Cola Wars – 2011 Edition

I came across a thought-provoking post “Too much taste to be called a Zero” from Raissa Cheu’s blog , detailing the latest ad for Pepsi Max (a 0-calorie drink) with not-so-subtle blows at its main competitor, Coca-Cola. She raises some interesting observations about how the ad differentiates Pepsi from Coca-Cola (who sells an almost identical product) by using Snoop Dog endorsement, the image of the Coca-Cola employee drinking Pepsi, and also the slogan “TOO MUCH TASTE TO BE CALLED A ZERO” – another direct attack at Coke’s “Coke Zero” product. I do believe that Coke and Pepsi are among the companies that employ the most blatant brand comparisons in their advertising in order to differentiate themselves. Currently, according to Beverage Digest’s 2008 report, PepsiCo’s U.S. market share is 30.8 percent, while The Coca-Cola Company’s is 42.7 percent.

Let’s take a look at a chart I’ve made detailing some major initiatives by both Brands to differentiate themselves – sometimes using direct measures to discredit the competition.

The position of these two companies is that they are constantly competing for market share in a sort of “Tug-of-War” or “Cola War”. Almost identical product, identical prices, and similar marketing strategies that often are made in direct response to the other’s strategy. Perhaps new strategies are needed to reinvigorate and add innovation to the cola brands – perhaps brand extensions such as merchandise, or products such as sparkling fruit soda, cider, ice cream, stylish reusable bottles, etc ?

On an side note, some food for thought: in relation to Tamar’s lecture today on the disadvantages of having a Genericized brands (i.e. Kleenex) – Is Coca-Cola (or Coke) a genericized brand, as carbonated soft drinks are sometimes referred to as ‘coke” by the general population? And what effects did it have on Coca-Cola as a brand?

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