Coca-Cola and PepsiCo invented the cola category decades ago, sparking a global phenomenon as both brands became cultural trademarks. While the battle for market share has long been called “the Cola Wars,” the competition between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo has extended into the snack food space as well.
However, consumer preferences are changing the face of these historically unhealthy food and beverage giants. Whether you look at the War on Big Food, the War on Big Soda, or the War on Sugar, the trend is clear—consumers demand nutritional alternatives to the foods and beverages incumbents such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have thrived on for years.
For Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to remain the cultural and global leaders they have historically been, drastic changes to their strategies and product offerings are necessary to meet healthier consumer preferences. The current product portfolio evolution is defining the next generation of food and beverage leaders.
From a marketing perspective, incumbent food and beverage companies must shift their focus toward nutritional offerings as these organizations have, making an effort to rebrand existing products and develop innovative new products in response to consumer nutritional demands.
However, changing the public perception of companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo from unhealthy to leading nutrition companies is a massive undertaking.
These are just a few of the successes PepsiCo has created in the healthy food and beverage sector. Many consumers still might see the trademark Pepsi drinks as unhealthy; but rather than rebranding their core product, PepsiCo is succeeding as a nutritional food and beverage provider through mergers and acquisitions with healthier brands.
The food and beverage industry might not move as quickly as technology, but if companies don’t adapt now, they risk losing out to leading nutritional companies with healthier brand images. Coca-Cola seems to be struggling with the changing environment, as their attempt to rebrand items as healthy offerings has struggled (the Coke Life experiment seems to be failing).
A business model focused on nutritional mergers and acquisitions like PepsiCo’s will keep incumbent food and beverage companies at the forefront of the market for years to come and perhaps finally mark the winner of not just a cola battle, but a food and beverage war.
If you want to learn more about how food and beverage companies can keep up with the latest health trends, download our free guide on how to build a next generation beverage.
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Written by Erin Stavi
Erin Stavi is a Food & Beverage Senior Customer Success Manager at Signals Analytics, a Decision Science as a Service company, that enables global organizations to continuously experience the “aha moment” through Signals Playbook™, a cloud-based analytical intelligence platform that transforms the world’s unconnected data into actionable insights to enhance customer experience, optimize product portfolio health and propel innovation. Erin is a seasoned partner to Food & Beverage companies, devoting years to working hand-in-hand with leading F&B companies such as Kellogg and MillerCoors. She has a background in market research/analytics with a passion for growth and hunger for winning consumer preference.