The Cola Wars

Today I was interviewed by Thomas Risch of Sunset Presse for a documentary titled “The Duel Between Coke and Pepsi. ”  The filmmaker asked me a number of questions about the New York City Soda Ban and social media activities of the two companies.

The soda ban is making news currently because Mayor DiBlasio would like to uphold the ban on large-sized soft drinks.  The ban approved by the New York City Board of Health would limit sales of soft drinks over 16 ounces in restaurant establishments.   Recently the mayor appealed a prior decision by a lower court to strike down the ban.  We are now waiting for the Albany court’s decision.

The question for consumers is whether there is a strong public interest in banning large sodas.  Mayor Bloomberg made clear that if someone wanted to drink more soda he or she could buy two.  The group New Yorkers for Beverage Choice argued that people have a right to decide which size soda to purchase.

Aside from this issue Coke and Pepsi are engaged in a cola war that has now extended to social media.  And, the fight can get intense with each side trying to steal share from the other in a saturated market here in the US.  The United States has a per capita consumption rate of 260.9 liters annually and the growth rate in carbonated beverages is expected to be .3% through 2018 according to Euromonitor.

Some examples of the head-to-head fighting in social media are:

1. Though Coke is sponsoring the World Cup, Pepsi is running ads with soccer stars.

2. Coke’s Ahhhh website features a video with Kina Grannis, the winner of the Doritos Crash the Superbowl campaign in 2008.  Doritos is a Pepsi product.

The war is likely to continue and move to the developing world where per capita consumption is lower.  People in India only consume 9.3 liters annually and in China 56.7 liters a year. In both countries growth rates are expected to be strong through 2018.


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