Some months back I wrote about how Dr Pepper was releasing a 10 calorie version of their popular soft drink in select markets, trying to create their own niche market by targeting men specifically (link here). It looks like the launch was successful, as they are now planning on expanding their 10 calorie portfolio to include five other beverages: A&W, Canada Dry, Sunkist, 7up, and RC Cola.
Larry Young, the beverage manufacturer’s chief executive was quoted,
Chief Executive Larry Young who said, “Now they [consumers] can come back, drink our ‘Ten’ products and enjoy the full flavor of our brands and not worry about the caloric intake. You have to keep the doctor happy.
While Dr Pepper 10 successfully targeted men and gained significant media exposure with their recent campaign, will these five other sodas have the same positioning? Should the 7up 10 calorie offering or the A&W 10 calorie offering target men specifically? Or would the company exclusively target women with these 10 calorie products? Dr Pepper came under fire for making fun of female consumers when they released Dr Pepper 10 nationally, so having history repeat itself in such a short time – even all in over-the-top good humor – may not be a good idea. However, the free media and the conversation starter of whether the drink was for men only cannot be under estimated. At the very least, Dr Pepper 10 may have gained trial when shoppers bought the beverage to see if it was really anything special, so it can be considered successful in that regard. If given the chance to repeat the same marketing strategy, Dr Pepper may have chosen differently so female consumers are not alienated.
That said, it’s also unlikely that the company will be targeting men specifically for the five other 10 calorie beverages. The more 10 calorie offerings that are specifically targeted at men, the more probable that Dr Pepper earns a reputation as a men’s only beverage organization and cutting off the company from half of the potential customers. Something else to keep in mind would be that females are the shoppers for the family unit and if the beverages does not appeal to the female shopper, the end consumer (the husband or son) will likely be drinking something else that she approves of, and the 10 calorie beverage will remain on store shelves. So while the research indicates that men do not want to be associated with the word “diet”, keying in on males when females are the main shoppers are not likely to help them move product unless the shopping list has “Dr Pepper 10” written on it.
How should Dr Pepper target and position these upcoming products? Is there a specific age group or ethnographic that they should go after? Or should it be aimed toward the general calorie-conscious consumer, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity? Since Dr Pepper’s initial advertising platform for the Dr Pepper 10 raised the profile for their 10 calorie offerings, there is no need to continue on this line of positioning if it alienates shoppers from them. Their upcoming focus should be on the product’s benefits. The 10 calorie sodas should focus on the sweeteners that give them the 10 calories and the closest taste profile to the full calorie versions.
Since the news of the line-up expansion broke not too long ago, Dr Pepper may be in the infancy stages of releasing these other products. Let’s hope that they gain media exposure for the right reasons this time.