Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Soda Wars' Fizz as Bottlers Vie for US, World Markets Pepsico Pitches 'Stuff' to Americans and 'Project Blue' Overseas

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Soda Wars' Fizz as Bottlers Vie for US, World Markets Pepsico Pitches 'Stuff' to Americans and 'Project Blue' Overseas

Article excerpt

CALL them decaffeinated or diet, new or classic, the world is increasingly awash in soft drinks.

Americans already gulp 52 gallons of soft drinks a year on a per capita basis, well ahead of every other nation. And they are consuming more each year. Residents of nations such as France, Russia, China, India, and South Africa may not yet swig as much. But US soft-drink giants are scrambling to put more fizz into global guzzling habits.

Some wags refer to the current market-share shoot-out as "Soda Wars." At the least, it is a "more than spirited competition," says John Sicher, publisher and editor of Beverage Digest, an industry newsletter in Old Greenwich, Conn. "Both Coke {Coca-Cola} and Pepsi are trying to grow at a rate faster than the industry itself," and that is resulting in some elbowing in terms of access to retail shelf space, says Andrew Conway, an analyst for Morgan Stanley & Co. in New York. The soda wars are occurring on at least four fronts: Hundreds of millions of dollars are going into new advertising campaigns. Sodamakers are nudging each other for slots on retail aisles. The companies are rolling out new products. Administrative changes are under way at several top beverage firms. The ultimate objective is to boost sales in the US and abroad. "The consumption of soft drinks is growing just about everywhere, and will continue to do so," Mr. Sicher says. In the US, for example, industry data show sodas are now the drinks of first choice, according to Sicher, followed by beer, coffee, milk, bottled water, juices, and tea. Traditional beverage patterns are changing. In 1995, for example, both coffee and tea lost market share. Soft drink sales rose, in part as a result of heavy consumption by Americans under 30. The growth of decaffeinated sodas took a pause. This year, both Pepsico Inc. and Coca-Cola Company have unleashed massive ad campaigns: Coke is promoting its "official" linkage to the coming Olympic games in Atlanta. Pepsi is promoting "Project Blue," featuring a new blue-colored Pepsi can overseas, to boost sales in Europe and third-world nations. Pepsi is also launching another campaign, Pepsi "Stuff," in which buyers collect "points" that are redeemed for items such as clothing and sunglasses. …

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