How Dr Pepper Popped Pepsi to Become America’s 2nd Favorite Soda Brand

After a century of battling America’s soft drink giants, Dr Pepper has officially overtaken Pepsi as America’s second favorite soda.

The Undisputed Second Best?

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Pepsi has historically placed second to Coca-Cola as America’s favorite sugary carbonated beverage. But now, another type of soda has taken its place – Dr Pepper. 

Outpacing Pepsi

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New data from Beverage Digest, which provides data analysis for the global beverage industry, shows that Dr Pepper has overtaken Pepsi to win the spot of America’s second most-purchased soda behind Coke.

A 0.03% Difference

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Beverage Digest reported that Dr Pepper had claimed 8.34% of the country’s soda market last year, compared to Pepsi’s 8.31%. While the 0.03% difference is minimal, it signifies the soaring popularity of Dr Pepper over the last few decades.

Hailing from Texas

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The classic soft drink was first created in 1885 in Waco, Texas, and was nationally marketed in the US in 1904. It is actually older than its greatest rival, Coca-Cola, which was not marketed as such until a year after Dr. Pepper.

A Favorite in the South

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Though it did not grab the nation’s attention as swiftly and effectively as Coca-Cola, it remained a regional favorite in Southern states, marketing itself as a “spicy” alternative to Coke with its signature blend of 23 different flavors.

Two Decades of Increased Success

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While it has long been considered a classic of America’s carbonated beverage catalog, this has only been reflected in the numbers in the last 20-30 years.

From 6th to 2nd

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24 years ago at the beginning of the century, Dr. Pepper was placed as America’s 6th favorite soft drink, according to data at the time. 

Improvements Year After Year

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It had the sixth largest market share in 2000, behind Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sprite, and Diet Coke. Since then, it has begun steadily jumping the soda ranks, taking 5th place in 2004 (tied with Sprite), before ascending to second place last year. 

Technical Tie, Marginal Win

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Dr Pepper and Pepsi’s numbers are technically tied as they both sit at 8.3% market share, but the thin margin for Dr Pepper is a notable blow for its competitors.

Pepsi Falling Behind

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Pepsi has held the second-place position, both in market share and in consumer hearts and popular culture, since 1985. It has long been considered the “next best thing” to Coke, but that perspective may now be changing. 

“They’re Meeting in the Middle”

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“Dr Pepper has been gaining, [Pepsi] has been declining, and they’re meeting in the middle,” said Duane Stanford, a Beverage Digest editor, about the latest data.

Interesting, Experimental Choices

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Some of Dr Pepper’s modern success can be attributed to its daring and experimental marketing. In particular, it has introduced a range of unique and unusual flavor profiles, several of which have been a hit with consumers.

Two Wildly Successful Flavors

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Most notable were the Strawberries & Cream Dr Pepper introduced last year and the Dr Pepper Creamy Coconut, both of which were very successful and even garnered viral attention.

“The Only Coconut-Cream-Flavored Dark Soda”

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The latter, which was introduced in May, was marketed as the “only coconut-cream-flavored dark soda on the market,” in a press release.

Soft Drink of the Summer?

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It is now the brand’s 24th flavor and one of its most successful. The release described it as “layers of tropical coconut flavor and a delicious, creamy finish,” and it is on its way to being the quintessential drink of the summer this year. 

A Huge Portfolio

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Stanford attributed Pepsi’s flagging success to the company’s diversification, as it has moved to focus on a range of other food brands that fall under the company umbrella, such as Quaker and Frito-Lay.

Focus on “Zero Sugar”

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Pepsi has also begun focusing on promoting “zero sugar” beverages rather than their classic recipe, which may have turned a section of customers away. “They’re leading with that now,” Stanford explained. 

No Competition for Coke

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Coke, on the other hand, is still facing very little competition in terms of market share, as it continues its century-long domination of the soft drink industry.

More Than Both Combined

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While Dr Pepper and Pepsi battle it out over an 8.3% market share, Beverage Digest data shows that Coke still raked in 19.2% of the soda market – more than both its competitor brands combined.

1.9 Billion Servings

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It’s not just America either – Coke remains the most purchased and consumed soda across the globe, with 1.9 billion servings issued across 200 countries last year, as shared by brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance. 

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The postHow Dr Pepper Popped Pepsi to Become America’s 2nd Favorite Soda Brand first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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