Kristen Marino


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Open Space in the Soda Market

Brands must have meaningful purposes and target specific niches. They must evoke positive emotional connections with consumers so shoppers will purchase them. While three soda brands – Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper and Pepsi – have unique messaging, there may be space for a new brand focused on individualism and defying the mainstream.

Coca-Cola’s Facebook messaging radiates with themes of closeness, warmth and nostalgia. It evokes happy emotions that create strong, positive affective links, which might persuade consumers. Its “#ShareACoke” hashtag reflects this, as well as its advertisements.

Coke’s planners probably discovered when, where and why people have soda. It probably learned that people have it when socializing and want to feel connected. Coke’s advertisements resonate with me because they remind me of memories with friends, leaving me more likely to remember those happy moments when I see Coke. These communications are probably not meant for those who do not enjoy socializing or soda.

Dr Pepper focuses on taste, necessity and craving. Its Facebook is filled with themes of wanting, relating to how people feel when they simply cannot go without the sugary beverage.

Researchers probably discovered when and why people want Dr Pepper and how they feel when they cannot have it. They might have found that people want it immediately and hate to wait. This could have led to copy about satisfying your craving, appealing to people’s physiological states and trying to evoke desire. This does not resonate with me because I strongly dislike Dr Pepper. Likewise, this strategy would not work for those who do not crave drinks or dislike Dr Pepper.

Finally, Pepsi’s messages are filled with celebrity, fame and football. They appeal to the need for social desirability, suggesting that if people drink Pepsi they will be popular, well-liked and trendy. For example, Pepsi recently did a massive sweepstakes.

Planners at Pepsi could have discovered that people drink soda to feel popular. They might have learned that people want to feel accepted and wish they could be like celebrities. This does not resonate with me because I prefer Coke, but it could work on those who want to be trendy and do not have strong preferences.

After evaluating these competitors, I think there might be an open space for a new brand. It could focus on individualism, being yourself without regard for what others are doing. While Coke focuses on camaraderie, Pepsi on being trendy and Dr Pepper on cravings, there might be a niche of those who want to be different and not stick to the status quo.