Increase Customization to Satisfy Soda Shopper Needs


It’s no surprise that carbonated soft drinks have been on a sales decline for the past few years.  Subjects such as stronger health-focus, lower calorie sodas, and government-proposed taxes are just a few examples of contributing factors toward the category’s decline.  So what has beverage conglomerates done to respond to this challenge?  Increase their product assortment – especially in the low calorie segment – and expand their package ranges among existing flagship brands.  One such example of proliferating the package range is delivering even more customization at a grocery retailer.

Over the last few months, we have seen examples of this customization from both Coca-Cola and Pepsi.  Beverage Digest tweeted about Coca-Cola’s partnership with Kroger’s to deliver a retailer-specific merchandizing strategy, where individual 12oz (355ml) cans of soda were lined up in racks for shoppers to choose their desired composition for an 8- or 10-pack.

Shortly after that, BevReview.com’s readers tip off a customized offering from Pepsi, offering a mix of both Pepsi and Mountain Dew in one 28- and 30-pack offering.

Both types of offering are examples of increased customization and are intended to satisfy more of the shopper’s needs.  Both are trying to ensure that the grocery retailer fulfills most (if not all) of their buyers’ soft drink requirements on that one shopping trip.  Coca-Cola’s offerings are also eliminating the fear of expired cans simultaneously.  After all, as a grocery shopper that previously had to buy a 12-pk of Tab but really only wanted 4 cans of Tab can now get these 4 cans, along with a couple cans of Fanta Orange and Fanta Grape.  Pepsi’s combo pack meets shoppers’ needs a little differently, but still offers customization since you can purchase both top-selling beverage brands in one case pack.

Coca-Cola Freestyle - courtesy of timeoutchicago.com

These custom offering are likely the end result of valuable shopper insights on consumption behavior.  What’s also interesting about Coca-Cola’s create-your-own-pack initiative is that it mimics their Coke Freestyle machine.  To remind some readers, the Coke Freestyle is the beverage manufacturer’s fountain unit that offers over 100 flavors of soda.  The important part to note for this machine is that in addition to allowing the thirsty consumer to create their own beverage mix, it also provides the Coca-Cola with information on what flavors are dispensed the most and possibly satisfy a previously unmet beverage need.  Creating your own multipack allows them to do the same thing, by monitoring shipment levels of individual cans and tracking the point-of-sale scanned data.

For Coca-Cola and Pepsi, this is an example of passing influence to the purchasers while maintaining their own product control.  By giving customers more choices and customization, they have effectively satisfied more of the shoppers’ needs and benefited themselves in the process with rich information.  Everyone wins in this scenario.

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