U.S. Cola War Continues with Pepsi True Launch

Pepsi True

It seems the Cola Wars continue to expand across the calorie spectrum.  Where Coke and Pepsi used to spar over full calorie soda (Coke vs Pepsi) and zero-calorie soda (Diet Coke vs Diet Pepsi, Coke Zero vs Pepsi Max), the two beverage giants now go to war over the middle.  The contestants are Coca-Cola Life and Pepsi True, two sodas sweetened with sugar and stevia, with less calories, and green packaging.  That may be where the similarities end in this round though, because this iteration is very different from prior rounds.  Their product launch tactics differ greatly, and this particular fight appears to be highly contained with the United States.

What some people may forget is that Pepsi already has a stevia-sweetened mid-calorie soda on the market – just not in the U.S.  Remember Pepsi Next?  The American Pepsi Next contains artificial sweeteners whereas other countries with Pepsi Next have a stevia-sweetened version.  Unless Pepsi decides to discontinue the existing stevia-based Pepsi Next everywhere, this Cola War will only exist in the U.S.  And it is likely that the Pepsi True launch is primarily relevant to Americans given Pepsi Next’s presence elsewhere.  So in effect, this should be termed more of a Cola “battle” rather than a Cola “War”.  Pepsi Next against Coca-Cola Life in markets outside the U.S., while the U.S. battle will be between Pepsi True and Coca-Cola Life.

Related Post: Pepsi Next May Find More Success in Canada

Both companies are also more cautious in their launch approach.  Coca-Cola Life has experimented in multiple countries outside the U.S. first to measures its market viability, and only recently started rolling out in U.S. regions this past August.  The American rollout isn’t national and they have yet to provide marketing support welcoming Coca-Cola Life to America.  Pepsi True is taking a similarly conservative approach by not even stocking this product in traditional channels.  Pepsi’s mid-calorie soda variant is set to launch exclusively through Amazon, where shelf space is limitless, operating costs are lower, and product delivery does not come from their distributor network.  After all, Pepsi distributors work with limited storage space and a delivery system optimized for sales and profitability; carrying Pepsi Next could mean sacrificing sales of other better-selling products.  To satisfy American distributors, Pepsi indicated that they will reimburse distributors for Pepsi True sales in their regions.

Related Post: Coca-Cola Life Commercial Review: Open Your Good Nature

It makes sense for both beverage manufacturers to take baby steps first.  Launching anything in the mid-calorie segment has been challenging for over a decade.  The 2004 introductions of C2 and Pepsi Edge marketing sucralose as a sugar alternative proved unsuccessful.  The 2012 Dr Pepper Snapple Group TEN-calorie soft drink line-up hasn’t received marketing support to keep up its launch momentum.  Earlier this year, Coca-Cola’s vitaminwater reverted back to its original formula after consumer complaints about its stevia formula.  The beverage industry’s history is littered with more failures than successes when companies attempt to bring mid-calorie refreshments to the consumer.  And as much as Pepsi Next could be deemed a global success, the results undoubtedly vary between markets.

Going forward, the road will only become more difficult.  Consumer perspective toward mid-calorie soda in general has not been overwhelmingly positive.  Taste is always the first consideration and most stevia-sweetened beverages contain a bitter aftertaste.  Consumers have also persisted in choosing drinks that offer health benefits and less calories over mid-calorie soda.  Regardless of consumption trends, soft drinks are still a significant part of the beverage landscape.  Even though the Cola War has evolved, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi will find new frontiers to wage their battles.

“Freestyle” Flight Beverage, and a Thought Starter

On my latest flight trip, I decided to step away from my regular drinks.  Normally, I opt for Cranberry Cocktail, Orange Juice or Sprite.  But the flight crew was really comical and interactive, and even made a comment about mixing drinks together.  I decided, “Why not?” and opted to mix the Orange Juice with Sprite.  To which he replied that that mix is fairly common and told me to “Live on the Wild Side.”  So I asked for his suggestion on what would dial up the “wild” factor he was alluding to.

Given that there are finite options on an airplane and I wasn’t interested in paying for alcohol, he came up with the following: Coke Zero and Cranberry Cocktail.  In addition to the Orange Juice and Sprite.  I guess this really turned it into a Cranberry “Cocktail”.  Taste-wise it wasn’t bad because of the mix ratios (about 70% OJ), but it was nice to have a quick Coca-Cola Freestyle moment on the flight.  Here’s my drink on the flight.

Freestyle Flight Beverage - can you guess what's in this? Even though it looks like Orange Juice.
Freestyle Flight Beverage – can you guess what’s in this? Even though it looks like Orange Juice.

So my thought starter as a result of this interaction?

Would there come a day when flights are equipped with more than just the regular assortment of fast-selling canned beverages – like Coke, Pepsi, Club Soda, and Cranberry juice?  How likely is it to get Coca-Cola Freestyle (with over 100 different customizable beverage options) on a flight?  What would it take to make this happen?  Are we currently moving to this state already?

The simple answer to those questions: No.  Based on my observations & understanding, an airline’s beverage assortment is geared toward the top-selling and popular options.  For example, if a Vanilla Coke alternative existed, would it be “turn” fast enough to beat the expiration date?  Despite it having a cult following, this just isn’t a regular beverage option.  Keeping in mind that flight guests typically don’t know what the airline’s beverage assortment consists of.  This means that suggestive selling or flight-attendant input is heavily needed in order to move through slow-turning beverage options.

Operating a Coke Freestyle machine would involve many complicated moving pieces.  For example, how would the syrup be best stored to be protected from denaturing during different altitudes?  Which beverage options should the airline carry on board the plane?  Will they need more syrup cartridges of the popular flavors and less of the more niche offerings?  This also does not solve the problem of slow-turning alternatives.  And let’s not forget the most obvious problem: carbonated tanks.  Forgetting about all the various beverage options and the obvious hazards of carrying carbonated tanks through different air pressure, there is still too much equipment store needed to make this work.  And we haven’t even gotten to the financial part of this alternative.  Ultimately, my thought starter would end up being a non-starter.  Fountain units are not meant for air travel.

Another interesting observation: I never knew that planes had lemon and lime substitutes, but apparently they exist like sugar packets.  Feast your eyes on an image taken in flight (and posted later to BevWire upon arrival) of crystalized lemon and lime packets.  Now that would have been a party if I had added this into my new Cranberry Cocktail!

LemonLimeCrystalized

Powerade Continues March Madness Underdog Commercials

Powerade continues its underdog status with another March Madness #PowerThrough campaign

Have you seen the latest Powerade commercial?  It doesn’t explicitly say it’s for March Madness (which they did with their Coke Zero March Madness Campaign), but it’s still the same underlying message, and they are releasing this right when March Madness started.  It seems that I was wrong after only seeing a Coke Zero commercial for March Madness this year.  Coca-Cola is not only leveraging from a position of strength with their zero-calorie soft drink, but also continuing to capitalize on their underdog status with their sports drinks.  Why is there a need to also release a commercial and reminder for Powerade during March Madness, especially since they have already done an ad spot for Coke Zero?  Won’t this be conflicting, and hurt their overall business?

In the spirit of continuing their March Madness underdog theme, releasing a commercial that celebrates and glorifies the little guy is the right thing to do.  Consider also the tweets the Powerade account sent out to support the Harvard Crimson basketball team which won its first NCAA game over New Mexico.  Consider also the Sweet 16 round still involved three double-digit-ranking basketball schools in this year’s do-or-die tournament: Florida Gulf Coast University, Oregon, and La Salle.  Even the Final Four include Wichita State, which is the ninth-ranked seed for the West region.

Here’s the Powerade commercial below:

While the Coke Zero commercial focuses on the spectator, Powerade caters to the athlete.  A different target market, a different user.  That alone should imply minimal cannibalization since these are two different groups of people.  By implementing a dual brand strategy this year – instead of switching the focus to a broader audience base as I had previously believed – Coca-Cola is increasing their investment and support behind this event.  Although this should not hurt their business, there is minimal cross-benefit since these are two different beverage segment  and two different buyers.  In actuality, Coke Zero may simply be a blocking tactic to keep competitive soda messaging from dominating the tv screens during the tournament, and Powerade may be a investmentt tactic for their college messaging to show their collegiate athlete support.

At the very root of this commercial is Powerade’s message that they are still the underdog and they dare you to doubt them.  Which ultimately implies that Powerade may have some plans this year to trim Gatorade’s share leadership beyond March Madness.  Keep on the lookout for more Powerade activity.

Coke Zero Targets Men For 2013 March Madness

Have you seen the latest Coke Zero commercial?  If not, click on the link below, also found from Advertising Age’s article detailing Coke Zero’s new advertising agency, Droga5.

Unlike last year’s Powerade commercial, this year’s March Madness commercial by Coca-Cola features Coke Zero.  The question is why focus on a soda rather than the sports drink?

Inherently, the message and audience is geared toward a completely different type of beverage consumer.  The Powerade commercial was a signal to Gatorade that Powerade realizes that they are the underdogs in the sports drink segment, and they must work harder in order to compete with the sports drink giant.  It was targeted toward the athlete.  This year’s March Madness commercial broadens the reach by focusing on men, not just athletes in particular.

An office drinks a Coke Zero to confirm it's not his fault he's working on the March Madness brackets during work time.  From creativity-online.com.
An office worker drinks a Coke Zero to confirm it’s not his fault he’s working on the March Madness brackets during work time. From creativity-online.com.

Coke Zero wants to identify with the spectators, not just the athletes.  The message is that even the casual sports fan can enjoy everything and participate in March Madness by drinking Coke Zero and picking the winners.  The change in Coke Zero’s focus is understandable, given that CSDs (carbonated soft drinks) are a larger segment than sports drinks and offers greater sales potential.  Also, why would you fight from the position of an underdog (Powerade) when you can  fight from a position of strength, and build on your leadership (Coke Zero leads zero-calorie CSD market)?

Keeping in line with Coca-Cola’s theme on focusing on the intangibles, there is no mention of calories.  Notice how Coca-Cola’s tagline is “Open Happiness” and Diet Coke’s tagline is “Stay Extraordinary”?  There is no focus on tangible attributes, and tries to position the beverage as a lifestyle choice.  For Coke Zero, men do not want to be reminded that they can “Enjoy Everything” by consuming a beverage without any calories.  The less the messaging focuses on calories (and more on sports or happiness), the better it should perform.

All in all, the winning potential is great, and offers them the ability to leverage themselves from a position of strength.  Smart move to switch the focal point from athlete to casual fan and spectator.

Will You Sing For a Free Coke?

We’ve seen YouTube videos of Coca-Cola offering you a free coke by doing different things like hugging and dancing with the vending machine in the past.  Most recently we’ve even seen a video where thirsty consumers are told to accept a James Bond-like mission to get a free bottle of pop.  Now they have asked you to sing for a free Coca-Cola.  See the video below where students in Sweden sing karaoke to a Coca-Cola vending machine during the holidays.

The question is, why is Coca-Cola offering so many drinks for free?  What do they get out of giving away so many bottles of Coca-Cola?  Aside from the free media and overall feel-good behavior that these activities generate, it falls right in line with their tagline “Open Happiness”.  Notice that all these events take place in a collectivistic setting where many people gather together (school, train station, mall), so it can bring enjoyment to everyone.  The fact that these activities are recorded allows for online sharing indicate that it can bring even more joy for those that cannot immediately participate.  These vending machine videos entrenches the message that every time you are consuming a Coca-Cola beverage, you are feeling gratification.  It is also accepted by society since everyone else is smiling and feeling the same way you are.

What is also curious to note is that all these initiatives originated in Europe and Asia.  Will these media-generating activities happen in Canada and the United States?  From a business standpoint, maybe in the United States more than in Canada.  Vending machines typically don’t offer a strong investment return unless it is in a high traffic area and Canada does not have too many high traffic locations.  Consider this similar to the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, where they are more easily found in the U.S. than here.  These units must be placed in high traffic and high visibility locations in order to generate enough sales and/or media buzz.  And culture-wise, North American culture celebrates individualism more than collectivism.  That also play a role in determining whether these types of activities are imported.  While hugging, dancing, or singing are not culture-specific, the setting in which these activities take place are.  Singing and dancing in public are much less common here than in Europe.  People may also be less likely to do these things in public for fear of embarrassment.

This means that though the message of “Open Happiness” stays the same in North America as in Europe or Asia, the communication to deliver this message is different everywhere.  In the meantime, we can always look forward to these types of social engagement activities on the web.

Coke Zero: Unlock The 007 in You

Coke Zero has recently launched a video on YouTube in support of the upcoming James Bond 007 Skyfall movie.  Their claim to “Unlock The 007 in You” follows consumers in a Belgian train station looking to purchase Coke Zero and having to beat a series of obstacles in order to get free theater passes to watch Skyfall.  It looks to be a successful commercial, but why did it work so well?

First of all, readers and viewers should understand that this is in fact a commercial, not a viral video.  The liability of such an event inside a train station to have just about any regular consumer try this would be significant – given all the obstacles that the “Bond player” would have to complete.  And are all thirst-quenchers in Belgium male, or are the women not interested in completing this 007 challenge?  What about all the camera angles that show how the player tries to complete these challenges – there would definitely be a need for more than one camera, and certainly not security video.  So while this Coke Zero effort has generated a lot of interest and attention, remember that it is scripted and fictional (just like James Bond) and not real-life.  What it does offer is a chance for someone live like James Bond for a brief moment in their real life.

Now on to review the commercial.

The commercial’s success is purely rooted in its ability to build consumer interest and follow through on the challenge to get free Skyfall passes after getting their beverage.  First of all, a touch screen vending machine that asks men to enter your name and then offering you a chance to win a free pop is truly attention grabbing.  The first stimulant is the male consumer wanting to quench their thirst with a Coke Zero and approaching the vending machine.  While Canada and U.S. does not have touch screen vending machines, I’m not too sure what European vending machines look like so the touch screen itself may not be attention grabbing.  What is of note is the interaction between consumer (now a paying customer) and vending machine – when it offers you a chance to win free movie tickets.

Coke Zero Skyfall Cans - courtesy of popsop.com

This opportunity to win tickets is the hook and follow through for the customer.  The customer at this point must decide whether he wants to participate since he still has the chance to opt out.    Note how there was one customer that opted to not participate (around 0:15 sec)?  However, being in a society where “Free” changes behavior, how could most customers resist when being offered extra value for what they have just paid for?  It is akin to “Buy One Get One Free” or “Spend $10 Get Free X” offers.  Next, the customer accepts the challenge and must commit to finishing in time to win the tickets.

On the commitment aspect, the customer must complete the machine’s request to get the offer.  So he starts racing through the train station – under a time limitation and obstacles created by Coke Zero.  All this racing around in the train station is the so-called “James Bond experience” where the participant is unlocking their inner secret agent as they overcome obstacles and beat the clock.  As they reach their final destination, they find one additional challenge to link fiction with real-life.  By this time they has amassed a following of interested bystanders (most are paid actors – sorry for spoiling it if you have not seen the video) that goad the participant along.  And once this last challenge is completed – celebration ensues.

While this commercial is more fiction than real-life, it hammers home the point that the customer is willing to go to extreme measures to get yourself a Coke Zero.  And it beautifully ties in with the James Bond Skyfall movie with all the “extreme measures” implied during the participant experience.  Do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Mid-Calorie Sodas – Successful or Not?

Pepsi Next line-up - courtesy Robin Lee

It’s been over a year that Pepsi Next has first launched in test markets, and almost six months since it’s been available nationally in the United States.  Dr Pepper 10 will also soon be lapping it’s one year national launch in the market place.  These national launches proves that Pepsi and Dr Pepper both believe in the viability of the mid-calorie cola segment.  However, what are the results of this launch, and can it be considered a success so far?

For Pepsi Next, results so far can be considered average at best.   Wall Street Journal reported the Next to have gained 1% market share on US dollars (link here), although product reviews indicate that the aftertaste (end part of the Pepsi Next’s taste curve) is unpleasant and definitely feels like the artificial sweeteners (link here).  In spite of all this, Pepsi has launched two (limited for the summer) line extensions of the mid-calorie soft drink: Paradise Mango and Cherry Vanilla (pictured above).  That said, the launch can be considered a success so far, but the real test is converting these initial trail users into returning customers.

The line extensions and the continued advertising support for Pepsi Next would be much needed in order to help the brand sustain its momentum.  After all, it takes some time for a product to be accepted in the market – remember that it took Coke Zero & Pepsi Max a few years and some trying rebranding and repackaging before it caught on with consumers?  Beyond that, let’s hope for more products to enter the mid-calorie segment, and bring more attention to the category.

DPSG 10sFor Dr Pepper 10, test results have been similar to Pepsi Next.  On the Dr Pepper 10 alone, sales nationally have been strong enough to offset the declines across Sun Drop and 7UP.  And as the one year anniversary  for Dr Pepper 10 approaches, they have already worked on releasing five additional 10 calories colas.  The 7UP 10, A&W 10, Canada Dry 10, SunKist 10, and RC 10 are currently in test markets and some of these flavors should make it national (my bet is on the 7UP, A&W, and Canada Dry).

Overall, it would appear that there are two main players in the mid-calorie segment right now between Pepsi Next and Dr Pepper 10.  Coca-Cola has been reported to be trying a mid-calorie version of Sprite and Fanta in key test markets as well.  This segment will only continue to grow as consumers become more and more health conscious.  However, in order to make it a success, the main issue of taste must be addressed, since consumers likely wouldn’t sacrifice taste for calories.

And beyond that, let’s hope it makes it way up north to Canada so we don’t have to drive across the border to find some mid calorie beverages.

vitaminwater zero Quietly Arrives in Canada

vw+vw0 canada line-up courtesy of @vitaminwater_bc

Has anyone noticed the subtle changes to the low-calorie vitaminwater lineup in Canada?  There used to be three vitaminwater10 variants available: go-go, resilient-c, and recoup.  Now they have quietly replaced the go-go and resilient-c 10 calorie offerings with zero calorie offerings.  The recoup (peach mandarin) doesn’t appear to be on the market anymore, in favor of a zero calorie version of XXX, renamed as XOXOXO (acai-blueberry-pomegranate).  It appears that the United States’ transition in December 2010 has finally made its way north of the border this past April.  As it stands right now, there are 9 regular calorie flavors of vitaminwater, along with the three new low-calorie offerings.

One has to wonder why glaceau did not simply launch the zero-calorie offerings from day one, rather than wait a year to eliminate the 10 calories inside the bottle.  How did the 10 calories get eliminated after a few months’ launch into Canada?  Was it fear that Canadians would not adapt to the zero calories right away and needed to be transitioned away from calorie-filled beverages?  Was there a delay in getting approvals on the ingredients, particularly the sweetener?  In any case, the complete Canadian vitaminwater line-up still stands at 12 flavors.

Having 12 flavors makes it challenging to manage the product portfolio.  The benefit of this vitaminwater zero transition is that it will not impact the overall shelf spacing – only the existing area that vitaminwater product occupies.  However, 12 flavors for any product is quite significant, and getting a retailer to list all 12 at the same time will certainly be difficult.  Take for example Red Bull, which has found success with only three variations (Red Bull, Sugar Free Red Bull, and Red Bull Total Zero).  Or Coca-Cola, which also has three offerings (Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero).  Both these brands have fewer flavors and have been very successful.  Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy are also successful as a result of their broad portfolio of products – but not all products get listed in the retailer.  The most successful brands have fewer variations and can command more shelf space.  They also tend to be leaders in their respective categories.  vitaminwater seems to be buck that trend.

Is vitaminwater a leader in the enhanced or flavored waters category?  Sales data would almost guarantee it as such.  Why would they need so many flavors, when traditionally four or five flavors will be enough?  The answer is portfolio shelf space relative to sales.  If the vitaminwater portfolio commands 40% of the category sales, they should be allocated 40% shelf space.  After all, the argument is that the cooler space should reflect market conditions for the consumer.  This is why in the summer there are less shelf space allocated to juices, but more to water and sports drinks.  Having a broader portfolios always gives you more opportunities to create shelf space and in turn sales.  Just look at how Gatorade has been able to gain more shelf space following its prime/perform/recover extensions.  So while the majority of sales may come from the most popular flavors, the less popular flavors also have a significant role to play in creating and extending shelf space for the vitaminwater total portfolio.  Imagine that the sale for one vitaminwater flavor was marginal relative to the total portfolio, but had two shelf facings.  That flavor still remains on shelf to “hold space” for other better performing flavors, and allow the retailer to reduce that flavor to one facing while increasing facings for another better performing flavor.

Optimizing the shelf space ultimately falls onto the beverage category manager’s responsibility.  As long as vitaminwater’s broad portfolio keeps making sales, it makes difficult for other enhanced waters like Aquafina Plus to gain shelf space.  Once you secure the shelf space, it’s up to you to structure and space out your products to protect your shelf space.

 

 

 

Enjoy Everything with Coke Zero

Coke Zero’s latest TV commercial continues touting the taste aspect of a full-calorie Coca-Cola with zero calories.  Released during the 2012 BET Awards, it may have went over the top in proving its point.  Normally that would be true, but given the audience and the spokesperson featured Ken Jeong (from Hangover, TV’s Community, and other movies) it appears to be just right.

Tagging Ken Jeong to champion Coke Zero seems like a perfect match.  Jeong is easily recognized among the BET Awards viewers (demographic target are teens & young adults) and is over the top himself when it comes to proving a point.  So the first step of a successful ad campaign is there – the audience is paying attention and not tuning out (provided that they haven’t left their couches or changed the channel already).

The main message of reinforcing true Coca-Cola taste and zero calories resonates well among the viewers that want to have it all, but fails to inspire any call to action.  Beyond comedic entertainment and grabbing attention, the messaging may fall on deaf ears.  It’s important to remember that the targeted demographic are teens – an age segment where calories are not a main concern.  If you were a teen, calorie content may be one of the last things on your mind.  Teens want to have it all and given that taste and brand matters, but why go for a lesser-known brand like Coke Zero when you can have Coca-Cola instead?  Brand trumps taste in this scenario.  Even if the target consumer viewing the commercial understands the messaging, they may not be inspired to go out and purchase Coke Zero. The message communication simply does not apply to them.

Would Coke Zero be better off engaging in the zero-calorie Cola Wars with Pepsi Max?  Certainly not, because they are still the leading brand in this beverage segment and should not play down to their competition.

Does the commercial need to be to tuned?   Coke Zero could adjust their focus on the next older age demographic: young adults (20-30 year olds).  Consumers in this age range are at the time where they are faced with sacrificing taste for lower calories due to slower metabolism and stronger health focus.  However, doing so would alienate a profitable demographic and tying the beverage in with the beginning of their purchase life cycle.  The most probable case would be adjusting the positioning toward teens and young adults, where brand appeal is touted in addition to the zero calorie component.

Does this commercial make you want to buy a Coke Zero, and why?

Pepsi Canada Brings Back the Taste Test

Pepsi UTC - courtesy of facebook.com

Pepsi Canada has brought back the taste test, launching a Canadian-specific summertime promotion titled the “Pepsi Ultimate Taste Challenge” and supported through facebook both online and offline (link here).  Facebook offline support includes a map showing locations where Pepsi will be conducting the taste test and at which times. The online component runs a digital challenge testing you on various cultural components linked with Pepsi (slogans, word scrambles, celebrity endorsements, and more).

For those unfamiliar with the previous taste test formats, interested consumers would line-up and drink to cola samples (one Coca-Cola and one Pepsi) and guess which one was Pepsi.  The purpose of this test was to prove to consumers that in the absence of branding (red Coca-Cola packaging, blue Pepsi packaging), consumers actually preferred Pepsi more.  The test was a big success for the organization when they first ran it in the 1970s and 1980s, leading Coca-Cola to change its formula and launch New Coke (which has since become a worldwide case study on the company’s blunder).  Pepsi gained market share through its taste test and Coca-Cola’s reaction was to alter its formula, which led to pandemonium as consumers rushed to buy as much Coca-Cola as they could before it was phased out of the market.  Coca-Cola eventually caved to consumers and re-launched the original Coca-Cola (called Coca-Cola Classic).  So why would Pepsi Canada want to re-launch this taste test, have they not learned their lessons from the past?  Will this iteration of the taste test change anything?

The current taste test shouldn’t have the same adverse effects for Pepsi that they encountered in the 1970s and 1980s.  Times have changed and so have consumer soft drink preferences.  Both companies have learned their lessons and moved on from that point.  While the Pepsi Ultimate Taste Challenge is on display on a national scale, it is not in the United States.  This point alone isolates the effect that the taste test can have.  American consumption versus Canadian consumption has roughly a 10:1 ratio, therefore it would be equivalent to a 10% impact in the United States (similar to a large scale pilot test market in the United States).  Similarly, Coca-Cola has learned what would happen if they reacted to taste testing and changed their formula.  In this aspect, the Pepsi taste test should only affect Pepsi and the summer sales for both brands.

In addition, the current version’s taste test should deliver stronger results to the overall Pepsi franchise, rather than only to the Pepsi brand.  The 2012 version incorporates both Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max, pitting the entire Pepsi franchise against Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero (neither Pepsi nor Coca-Cola has a mid-calorie offering in Canada…yet).  This caters to the current beverage trends, giving calorie-conscious and sugar-conscious consumers a chance to take part in the taste test as well.

The underlying effects of this taste test should go a long way toward helping both brand’s summer soft drink sales.  The comparisons would not only increase exposure and sales for the Pepsi franchise, but also for Coca-Cola’s franchise.  Summer is definitely the season for sampling, and bringing awareness back to soft drinks at this time benefits everyone.  After all, if not promoting soft drinks during the summer, when else can it be promoted?