As Dr Pepper invests more support to highlight their “1/1″ campaign for Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper, are they providing less support to Dr Pepper TEN? The beverage manufacturer continues to feature their core soda offerings and exclude the low-calorie Dr Pepper TEN soft drink. As much as the company says that this segment is growing, neither Pepsi (makers of Pepsi Next) nor Dr Pepper Snapple Group (makers of Dr Pepper TEN, RC Cola TEN, 7UP TEN, Sunkist TEN, Canada Dry TEN, and A&W TEN) have provided the same media support levels since the 2012 launch period. Given consumer trends of shifting consumption away from soft drinks, what will happen to these Dr Pepper low-calorie sodas if they are not supported by Dr Pepper?
As seen above, the commercial’s final scene shows both Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper but not Dr Pepper TEN. The marketing message for Dr Pepper TEN is clearly different from Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper, but it is concerning that there has not been additional support behind Dr Pepper TEN. With market activity, consumer trends, and expert opinions all suggesting a continued decline toward carbonated beverages, it is understandable to support Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper since it delivers the biggest return. Conversely, not supporting these two brands will also provide the most detrimental effects to the business. This is why Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper will continue to receive the majority of funding.
With the low-calorie products receiving less funding, sales decline should be expected. But by how much? While the initial repeat levels were above expectations and more than half of all sales were sourced from outside the carbonated soft drink business, these early wins were not sustained. Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s SEC 10-K filing from February 2014 indicated as much:
Our Core 4 brands, which included the impact of the launch of our Core 4 TEN products, decreased 1% compared to the year ago period. This result was driven by a a 5% decrease in 7UP, a 7% decline in Sunkist soda and a 2% decrease in A&W, partially offset by a 6% increase in Canada Dry. Crush, Squirt and RC Cola declined 7% , 4% and 4% , respectively.
The entire 2013 annual report can be found here. So while it’s possible that other soft drinks within the 7UP, Sunkist, A&W, Canada Dry and RC Cola portfolio also declined, the fact that these TEN products sales did not balance the other beverage losses indicate that they were also losing sales thselves. Times are tough within carbonated soft drinks right now, especially when you’re not a Coca-Cola or Pepsi with a broader more diversified beverage (or food) portfolio. And even these two global conglomerates recently released results that were slightly less positive.
Dr Pepper TEN and the other TEN products still stand a chance at survival, because it is keeping in line with trends toward lower calorie consumption. However, delivering growth with less marketing support and when everyone is pushing full calorie offerings makes it challenging. At some point, Dr Pepper Snapple Group will have to make a decision whether they will re-invest in Dr Pepper TEN, or turn their attention toward other initiatives. Let’s just hope they make this decision sooner rather than later.