Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pop Culture: Soft Drink Makers See Future in Widening Diet Drink Market

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pop Culture: Soft Drink Makers See Future in Widening Diet Drink Market

Article excerpt

There was a day when the makers of diet pop targeted women.

Today, it's not just her drink.

The diet pop industry took off more than 20 years ago, and the big pop makers - Coca-Cola and Pepsi - are still pushing the low- cal beverages when it comes to advertising campaigns.

The demographics have changed. The early targets were women trying to get into last summer's bathing suit. Today, everybody's fair game.

PepsiCo announced last week the vast portion of its ad dollars will be tossed in the direction of Diet Pepsi. That brand will be Pepsi's new flagship item, to the tune of $60 million in ad revenue.

So, if diet pop is so popular, why the excessive ad money? Competition. Diet pop is not only competing with regular pop, it's been hounded by a whole array of products.

Your supermarket's pop aisle isn't just for pop anymore.

And the scientists who created diet pop decades ago would probably be scratching their heads about the latest serious competition - water.

Wal-Mart Supercenters carry just about any brand of soda one would want, including its own Sam's Choice line of products.

But you might be surprised at what's selling.

That row right there turns over twice a day, said Belle Isle Wal- Mart Assistant Manager Chris Patrick as he pointed to a lineup of water.

Water. It's so successful, the big pop makers are now churning out their share of it. Coca-Cola has Dasani in its lineup and Pepsi has Aquafina.

The carbonated soft drinks industry grew in 2004, but by not as much as usual. The pop industry saw a 1 percent increase in sales. During the 1990s, companies enjoyed 2 to 4 percent increases each year.

Water and other products have provided ample competition.

In quantity, we sell more water than pop, and in money, we sell more pop, Patrick said. And it's not just the name brands. Wal-Mart routinely has to restock the shelves occupied by generic water jugs.

The traditional colas continue to reign.

According to Beverage Digest, Coke Classic was by far the largest- selling carbonated soft drink. More than 1.8 billion cases of Coke were sold in 2004, and the brand held a 17. …

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