The Cola War: Coca Cola vs Pepsi

It’s a war that has spanned over a century. Two big brands who have blazed the trail for others to follow are locked in a supremacy battle as they constantly try to outdo each other and convince consumers that they are the better option.

Coca Cola are the undisputed kings of the carbonated beverage kingdom, with the advantage of being first, possessing a seemingly inexhaustible marketing budget and a fiercely loyal consumer base, while second placed Pepsi never relents in its efforts to upstage the giants.

From traditional media, and now to the new/social media, Coca Cola and Pepsi, the two carbonated soft drinks produced by The Coca Cola Company and PepsiCo respectively have taken their fight for the lion’s share of the market through different fora. And even though Coke had over a decade head start over its major rival, and is widely regarded as the leading soft drink brand, there’s no gainsaying the fact that Pepsi has done well for itself as it continues to give Coke a run for its money.

Both brands have evolved in every sphere: their logos, the shape of their bottles, their campaign jingles, the introduction of the diet options, and even in the caliber of celebrities that have endorsed them. They have also expanded across almost all countries of the world in a bid to the drinks accessible to everyone.

In Nigeria like many other countries, Coke is the leading soft drink. However, the competition from Pepsi has remained as stiff as ever. Most recently, Coca Cola introduced its 50cl Pet Bottle at N100 as a way of ensuring it remained affordable for those who cannot afford to buy at a higher price, but before they could get a chance to reap too much benefits from their initiative, Pepsi had their 50cl Pet Bottle in the market, dropping the price of its 50cl Bottle from N150 to N100 with the #NoShakingCarryGo campaign.

Pepsi had earlier somewhat become the toast of Nigerians when it introduced the 60cl Pepsi Long Throat Bottle which was a perfect way to give consumers more value for their money, especially has it was launched during the thick of the economic recession in the country. And in view of the fact that some consumers found new entrant, Big Cola to be of inferior quality even though it certainly ticked the quantity and affordability boxes.

While the “No Shaking Carry Go” and Pepsi Long Throat advertising campaigns have been successful, their effect still pales in comparison with the 2013/2014 “Share A Coke” marketing campaign, where the brand’s logo was replaced by popular names, and had everyone scrambling to find theirs and those of family and friends on the bottles.

The campaign remains one of Coke’s most successful yet in terms of revenue generation and even in recognition as it won many awards.

The “Open Happiness” and “Taste the feeling” global creative campaigns also fulfilled their aim of projecting Coke as a brand that creates happiness and pleasure regardless of the variant one prefers.

As the battle for the top of mind and market share between the two brands rage on, what is certain is that there’s too much at stake, and complacency on Coke’s part provides an opportunity for Pepsi to topple them.