Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi

The Top Dog

As the market leader, Coca-Cola’s strategy should include preventing change. The market leader is successful for a reason, and the success will breed more success, given constant market conditions. The market leader aims to convince customers that they can depend on their product, and do not need to switch brands (Kardes, Cronley, & Cline, 2012).

Coca-Cola has mastered this strategy by staking themselves as a fundamental part of the American family. Coke’s strategy is to create a brand that instantly creates an emotional attachment. Their campaigns focus on diversity, happiness, and family. (Johnson, 2011). They promote kindness too, like in their Share A Coke campaign.

Coca-Cola recently reestablished their brand by introducing the glass shaped bottle both into the shape of their packaging, and logo. This builds on the emotional brand strategy that connects with those who have a nostalgic feeling about Coke. They grew up with the classic glass bottles, and perhaps have an extensive collection of Coke memorabilia.

The Underdog

While Pepsi is considered the underdog in this rivalry, the race has always been tight. As the follower, Pepsi has had to try and disrupt the status quo, and change the direction of the market in their favor (Kardes, Cronley, & Cline, 2012).

One way Pepsi may have done this in the past was in the 1940’s. Pepsi adopted their red, white, and blue design as a sign of patriotism during WWII (Johnson, 2011). This was in irrelevant attribute, as it did not affect the product at all, but maybe lead the consumer to believe they were American for supporting Pepsi.

Pepsi also tries to increase ambiguity by addressing a different market in their advertisements. Pepsi ads are target more towards younger audiences, and appeal to their interests in sports, fun activities, and musical entertainment. Pepsi endorsements like Britney Spear, and Katy Perry help create a brand that is more edgy than Coke.

Their more recent take on Coca-Cola’s Share A Coke campaign involved placing cartoon emoticons on their bottles. This, coupled with a sweeter taste than Coke creates a more kid-friendly brand image.

Taking on the Top Dog

One way Pepsi could challenge Coke for the top dog spot is to go directly after the consumers, and offer the comparison information between Coke and Pepsi. Holding a blind taste test allows the consumer to try a product with out bias, and then associated the higher quality with that brand.

Pepsi also needs to take after Coca-Cola and try to unify their brand. Coke has adapted a One Brand strategy. They use almost identical bottles and cans to package their four varieties of Coke. Each drink has the traditional Coke logo, and red disk, with an accompanying color for each variety (Brown, 2016). Something like Pepsi’s emoticon bottles creates so much distraction when looking at a display, that the constant brand image may be lost.

Pepsi could also change their brand strategy by marketing towards the family as a whole. While young audiences may be more exposed to advertising, the adults in the family are the ones ultimately doing the shopping. Instead of single celebrity endorsements, advertisements could feature entire celebrity families enjoying Pepsi. Branding the drink as something for the entire family to enjoy would make it a part of the household.


I believe Coca-Cola is the top dog because it has stuck to the basics. It originated back to a simpler logo, and continues to push the emotional side of its brand. Coke spreads a message of diversity and togetherness in its advertisements that really resonates with people in an increasingly divisive world.

However, I am not one to judge either of these because I am not a cola drinker. I enjoy Mountain Dew, so technically I support the Pepsi brand. I will say that I remember Coke’s brand image more though. I see it when I go to the movies, I think of it when I see a polar bear, and you can bet I stood in line to get my own name on a Share A Coke can.



Brown, E. (2016, April 28). #CreativeBranding – Coca Cola’s “One Brand” Strategy –                          Branding for a Reason. Retrieved from                cola-one-brand-strategy/

Kardes, F. R., Cline, T. W., & Cronley, M. L. (2012). Consumer Behavior (2nd ed.). Stamford,             CT: Cengage.

Johnson, J. (2011, March 24). Pepsi vs Coke: The Power of a Brand. Retrieved from                     




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