Who is worth more Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
Moreover, Coke still has a lead over Pepsi! However, a tiny lead! $250 billion vs $268 billion. As a result, that’s a close race!
Coca-Cola and Pepsi are two of the largest brand names in the beverage industry, comprising over 70% of the United States carbonated beverage market by combined volume share (see figure 1). Established in 1898 by pharmacist Caleb Bradham, the young Pepsi grew in the wake of Atlanta’s Coca-Cola, a primary competitor having been established twelve years prior by John Pemberton. Originally taking advantage of an economy in depression, Pepsi prided itself in selling large quantities of product for a reasonable price through the 1930s, creating demand around a product similar to Coca-Cola that appealed to a larger customer base because of its relatively low cost.
Moreover, the two brands remained confined in the industry of carbonated beverages through the 1950s, with Pepsi eventually taking steps to introduce the first nationally-distributed diet soda in 1964, Diet Pepsi, and Coca-Cola following with its own in 1984. Both firms demonstrated the ability to expand in respect to their products, as each company added different carbonated beverages to their repertoire through the 1980s; however, a decision made by PepsiCo in the late 1990s to further diversify their product line exists as an important point of focus in this examination, as it can likely be attributed to a large part of their present-day success.
Bottling plant of Coca-Cola Canada Ltd. January 8, 1941. Montreal, Canada.
In 1997, the firm took steps outside of the realm of carbonated beverages and launched Aquafina, a product that would quickly become America’s top-selling bottled water brand; the underdog was able to take a risky step in expanding their brand name, a key part in their success over the past few decades. Pepsi’s zeal for expansion and product diversity has given the company extensive opportunities for growth and has proven to be a successful business model in the past twenty-five years, allowing the firm to steadily inch closer to the success of the ever-mighty Coca-Cola.
Figure 1: Statista: Leading Carbonated Soft Drink companies in the United States, 2016-2021, based on volume share
Since the 1990s, PepsiCo not only demonstrated an expertise in expanding their brand name. But also found great success in their efforts to acquire and merge with various firms in which they saw potential. Following the 1961 merger of Fritos and Lays, two popular potato chip brands that conjoined in the creation of Frito-Lay Inc., Pepsi was able to follow suit in one of their most successful expansive decisions to date, a merger with Frito-Lay that would officially give the firm the name PepsiCo; selling two complimentary products, a salty snack and a refreshing beverage, the two companies saw mutual potential, potential that has since turned into immense success for PepsiCo.
In 2021, for example, 46% of the firm’s operating profits were derived from their snack and food-related products, the vast majority of which stem from the Frito-Lay merger; while this is clear evidence of the success that has followed Pepsi’s efforts to expand and diversify their product line, it is also information that lies in stark contrast to the 90% of annual profits that Coca-Cola generates solely from their carbonated beverages.
PepsiCo’s past mergers and acquisitions, such as the aforementioned merger with Frito Lay and their 2001 acquisition of The Quaker Oats Company, have proven to be pivotal in the firm’s success.
Furthermore, Pepsi’s various joint ventures accounted for over 40% of their total sales in 2021. So, if PepsiCo has seen such great success with their expansive business model, with their diverse mergers and acquisitions generating a large portion of the firm’s annual profits, why has Coca-Cola not taken the same route?
It is undeniable that Coca-Cola has been able to expand their brand name in the realm of beverages, having worked with firms like Walt Disney and Nestlé S.A. to market unique products that differ from their carbonated staples.
With their acquisition of Costa Coffee in 2018, Coca-Cola even gained ownership of the largest coffee company in the United Kingdom.
However, a trend seems to arise when looking at the Coca-Cola’s expansion.
Unlike PepsiCo, Coca-Cola made minimal progress in expanding outside of the beverage industry.
For instance, little success followed their 1982 acquisition of Columbia Pictures. An example of a poor use of capital. With their ownership of the film studio lasting a mere seven years before Sony purchased it. It is possible that Coca-Cola has applied their “think local, act local” strategy–an ambitious effort to restructure the firm, proposed in 2000 by former Chairman Douglas Daft–to their product line, as they have remained quite “local”, or confined, in respect to their staple products.
In conclusion, whether or not this correlation applies to the firm and its business model, evidence shows that, over the last twenty-five years, PepsiCo has kept a greater emphasis on branching out, looking to market a wider range of products with a wider range of partners; this practice, present within the firm since the late 1900s, has, and likely will, continue to give them an upper hand on the ever-mighty Coca-Cola.
Written by Thomas Heath
Is Coke Or Pepsi More Popular? A 25-year Tale of Two Cities
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Who is worth more Coca-Cola or Pepsi?