A new health initiative by soda brands is not what it seems.
So, what does it mean to consumers when Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and Snapple (read about 7-Up here) signed an intent to reduce the caloric consumption of sweet carbonated beverages by 20%? Is it a form of altruism? Are these global soda brands concerned about the health of the general population and are willing to forgo sales in the desire for better, healthier lifestyles? Nah.
It has been all over the news as the PR spin is trying to position the brands as partners in our desire for healthier choices. Is this a subtle change or is it a major reshuffling of brand promises? Is it as important as CVS Pharmacy not selling tobacco products? After all, cigarette sales was a major profit center for the pharmacy. CVS made a lot of money on tobacco sales and it is taking a risky stand in defense of its brand. But this is not true with soft drink makers.
The real issue is that sales of carbonated beverages are declining a bit, year over year. The soft drinkers are just not spending as much at the vending machines that seem to populate our world like so many weeds.
So how does the business of soft drinks respond? Simple. They encourage consumers to drink more water. Not tap water, by the way, but bottled water. Brands owned by the same companies that sell us Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Pepsi and Coke. This is a PR move and not altruism in support of any brand promise.
What this means is that, in its monopolized brand vending machines, Coke wants you to buy Dasani water. Pepsi wants you to buy Aquafina.
What does this mean to the manufacturer? How about higher margins per purchase? Which do you think it costs more to make, soda water with flavorings, sugar (or corn syrup) and color or tap water filtered through osmosis?
No doubt we are on to them. Soda brands don’t care about our health. They care about taste and profits. No soft drink brand has the inherent brand position to be about our health.