Tuesday, March 29

Positioning in the Cola Wars

If you are into marketing, you've probably been watching (at some level) the cola wars for decades now. The continual fight for #1 between Coca Cola and Pepsi, that is. There was a time when Pepsi used to bounce in and out of that position, although Coca Cola has had it now for awhile with Pepsi a close second. We're talking the full sugar versions here.

Just last week, there was a major change to that dynamic. Diet Coke took over the number two spot, bumping Pepsi into third place. If you are in the soft drinks biz, this is huge! The Coca Cola company has the two lead sodas with regular Coke and Diet Coke. Wow.

The truth is that the cola market is huge, and growing by the minute. With so many products that all seem kind of the same, how do you keep it all straight? Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, etc ... mind boggling.

One of my students from the class I taught at NYU weighs in on how the different versions are positioned. Give it a read below, I hope you'll find it interesting.

Oscar, what's your experience? Jim.

Recently I've been intrigued by two very similar Coca Cola products that offer the same physical benefits -- cola flavor without any calories. What I find so interesting is the two very different positionings, personalities, and marketing strategies coming from such similar products. In thinking it through, I instantly thought of the movie "Top Gun."

Diet Coke -- the Maverick of diet colas. The personality is young, successful, and confident -- "Stay Extraordinary." They used the Oscars as the initial marketing platform, but then have extended it beyond. Campaign is here.

Then Coke Zero -- the Goose of diet colas. This brand is funny and a bit of a goof ball. This has been the product personality since the Coke Zero / Mentos car viral video. Their most recent platform has been during March Madness with funny goof ball commercials and face painters -- gotta love 'em.

It is so fascinating to see products that are physically so similar yet can be marketed emotionally differently to meet the needs of different audiences. I guess just one question left unanswered -- who is Iceman here?

- Oscar Caicedo, student at NYU

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