In the world of product marketing and competition between similar companies, there has likely never been a showdown like the ongoing battle between Coke and Pespi for market share in the cola industry. This industry is global, the customers are very diverse, and the profit base is huge and these are the two companies that have historically shared the vast majority of the market.
When it comes Coke or Pepsi, nearly everyone has an opinion about which one is better. There is really no arguing the fact that the two soft drinks are very similar in terms of flavor. The flavor difference between them is subtle at most, so it is interesting that so many people have such strong feelings about which one is better.
Global market analysis on the cola industry shows that Coke usually has a slight advantage over Pepsi in terms of market share. In some regions Pepsi is winning the battle, however overall it seems that more people are picking Coke over Pepsi. Looking at a wide range of data shows that Coke owns somewhere between 40-43% of the US market, while Pepsi gets in the neighborhood of 30%. Of course different studies will produce different results so it is difficult to get a truly accurate picture. The one thing that is certain is that Coke and Pepsi continue to blow away any other form of competition. The cola wars are truly a two horse race.
Being colas, Coke and Pepsi definitely taste very similar. Many people cannot even tell them apart if they don’t know which one they are drinking. However there are other people who are very adamant in their preference of either Pepsi or Coke. Some say that Pepsi is sweeter, others feel that Coke has a crisper flavor so they like it better. Some prefer the aftertaste of one over the other. There are even those who prefer one brand when drinking from a can and the other from a bottle. Most people find it more difficult to tell them apart when they are served as a fountain drink in a restaurant. It’s all about your own personal taste. Or is it?
Marketing and advertising are an integral part of the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi. Both Coke and Pepsi are smart enough to know that the beverage we choose to purchase may not always be based strictly on taste preference. It may be more subliminal than that. The fact that people can have such a strong preference between two such similar products shows how important and effective marketing is. There are of course those who really do favor the taste of either Coke or Pepsi, but you have to wonder how large of a role people’s sub-conscious emotional connection to their favorite cola plays into their choice.
A pivotal aspect of the Coke vs Pepsi battle has to do with where their products are available. Think about restaurants for instance. Restaurants, stadiums, airlines, and other businesses will typically offer either Coke or Pepsi products, not both. So securing contracts with within these industries to feature their line of products is very important for the market share of Coke and Pepsi. Much research also goes into the strategy of vending machine placement and often contracts regarding that. In some locations both Coke and Pepsi will have vending machines, whereas other times there may be a contract involved guaranteeing one company sole placement. It even goes right down to schools. Coke and Pepsi know that marketing to youth means long term business, and having vending machines in schools serves this purpose. This is somewhat disturbing and fortunately many school districts are now banning soft drink machines in their schools.
The battle for your cola choice has been going on for years and it isn’t about to slow down. It’s a huge market with customers spanning the entire globe and from all age groups and economic classes. Of all the corporate battles for market share in various industries, Coke vs Pepsi is probably the main draw. From which one tastes better to whose television commercials are more entertaining, almost everyone has an opinion. And it’s not just strictly to do with cola either. Both companies feature a wide range of competing products from diet cola to flavored sodas to sport and energy drinks. So the battle for cola supremacy rages on.