The Great Debate: Coke vs. All Other Soft Drinks

Did I mention the open bias in these posts? You were warned in the first post of this category! Today’s Great Debate focuses on soft drinks, and as the title indicates, my favorite is Coke. Most people would pit Coke and Pepsi against each other, but being from the South, I feel that Dr. Pepper has a huge following as well. Then there’s the diet drink fans, who often separate themselves into a whole different category than their full-calorie counterparts. Thus, to avoid an extensively long title, I just lumped all the lesser soft drinks into one category 🙂

Coca-Cola Classic

I love Coke, and I’ve always loved Coke… and I assume I always will. There really is something about that first sip that makes you say, “Ahh”. It’s a completely refreshing moment, just like the commercials show! It’s not too sweet, and the flavors blend wonderfully, without overwhelming your palate like some of the competitors’ offerings. What’s their marketing secret? They’ve made themselves a classic, a staple of the all-American way. The taste of Coke classic hasn’t changed, and the brand remains a consistent, tried-and true experience. I know that a Coke in Spain will taste the same as a Coke in China, and that both of these experiences with the product will be just as good as my experience here in the States. (Yes, I have had Coke in all 3 countries mentioned).


Alright, it’s my responsibility as a marketer to perpetuate the Coke vs. Pepsi war, so I’ll include it. One notable marketing endeavor was the taste challenge a few years ago. Pepsi set up taste tests to see which drink consumers preferred. Pepsi won their own taste challenge, and promptly plastered this win all over their marketing campaign. However, I found some interesting information related to this win. Pepsi is much sweeter than Coke, and the first sip of Pepsi triggers the pleasure center in the brain due to the sugar rush, thus producing a “preference” by consumers. The problem is, after the first few sips, the pleasure center of the brain is no longer stimulated, and actually starts to be over-loaded. So, for people who want to drink a whole can of Pepsi, it’s often too sweet for the brain to handle. Thus, if Pepsi really wanted a true representation of preference, they should have had taste testers consume a whole can of each beverage.

Dr. Pepper

This is a favorite here in Texas, as this beverage started out in Waco. It has a very distinct flavor, which I find to be a bit biting and over-powering. I will give them props for their marketing efforts, though. There’s a Dr. Pepper museum in Waco that features the stories, packaging, and serving of the product, and they’ve created a culture among fans that view Dr. Pepper as a Texas loyalty. With Texas’ intense state pride, branding yourself as a “beverage for real Texans” is a surefire way to garner a strong fan base.


I’ll also include Sprite in this list, as there’s nothing like a Sprite when you’re stuck at home, sick. My mom always gave me Sprite and Saltine crackers when I wasn’t feeling well, and to this day, I’ll still grab those same remedies for a sick day. Sprite is also the one soft drink allowed backstage in my theater circles, as it’s clear coloring won’t mess up costumes if it spills! Sprite has also done a great job with their marketing, taking a young, fresh approach. They usually come at you with some kind of in-your-face music, animation, and colors to keep their image updated. And, I don’t feel too bad promoting Sprite, as they are owned by Coke 🙂

Care to weigh in on the Great Debate: Soft Drinks? I love Coke, and this topic has spurred many a fight among marketing undergrads, so I have no problem contending that this is a serious topic for debate among marketers!

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