Magazine article Marketing

Tasting, Tasting

Magazine article Marketing

Tasting, Tasting

Article excerpt

Over confident and over here? Coca-Cola Schweppes believes it can mimic Dr Pepper's enormous success in the States on this side of the Atlantic. But does the drinks firm have enough marketing fizz to take on the cola giants?

You have to admire the enthusiasm of Coca-Cola Schweppes Beverages: the next addition to its soft drinks portfolio will be Dr Pepper, a carbonated blend of 23 flavours with a taste perhaps best described as unique.

CCSB has only been a major marketing force in soft drinks since January, when Schweppes handed it a [pounds]100m budget to take full marketing control over all Schweppes brands in the UK. It has yet to take over Dr Pepper. Food Broker's 14 year contract for marketing and distributing the brand will not end until January next year.

But already it is bullish about the drink's future. According to CCSB's commercial director Kevin White, Dr Pepper, which holds less than 0.5% of carbonated soft drinks sales in the UK, has the capability of being in our top four most favoured soft drinks brands.

"We believe we can make the same progress here as the brand has in the US," White says. This is a big claim. Dr Pepper outsells Diet Pepsi in the US and is the fourth best selling drink. Worldwide, it is the biggest-selling non-cola drink. Cadbury Schweppes paid $1.7bn in January for the Dr Pepper company and heralded the acquisition as a powerful strike in the soft drinks war against Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

In the UK, cola sales account for around 44 per cent of the market. For Pepsi and Coca-Cola the soft drinks war is against cheaper cola brands such as Virgin and supermarket own-brands, rather than non-cola rivals. But CCSB is confident its newest brand can become a serious player.

Its battle plan is to drop the low-key, low-budget on-pack and trade promotions which Food Brokers followed. Instead it will storm the market aiming Dr Pepper at 10-to-15 year olds. Its marketing spend is not confirmed but CCSB says it will spend a sizeable amount of the company's [pounds]100m budget on TV advertising and heavyweight sampling campaigns. CCSB's distribution strength will also be used, rapidly extending Dr Pepper's limited sales outlets and putting the drink into supermarkets.

A matter of taste

Heavyweight sampling is the key part of the strategy. As one UK soft drinks analyst puts it: "Dr Pepper just tastes so weird. …

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