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Soft Drinks Insights

Under pressure, category still sells enormous volume


In understanding the category, marketers are looking at colas, then CSDs, then the overall category, which includes other drinks such as juices. We’re seeing consumers continue to fall out of love with colas and with other sparkling drinks, but having said that, we need to be clear, the brands are still selling a lot of soda. It’s a big job to change people’s perceptions of these categories and change the messaging to bring people back in love with the product. Soft drink manufacturers are additionally looking where else to innovate to make sure they are winning overall in the category.


Nigel Birch

Senior Client Director

Kantar Millward Brown








Consumers love

the brands, not

the health effects


The category remains under pressure, certainly in developed markets. Marketers continue to balance the impact of category health concerns and erosion of brand affinity in younger generations. The food category (e.g. Dolmio) has started to directly acknowledge health concerns with moderation messaging, and soft drinks manufacturers are paying close attention – as finding the right balance between addressing concerns and brand building is the key to managing future growth. As in many other categories, there is also a degree of fragmentation as the range of functional beverages and niche offerings proliferate – so a  challenge for the category giants as is to get the relationship between their masterbrands and their expanding portfolios right.


Rob Vance

Vice President

Penn Schoen Berland






Many factors shape consumer choices and brand responses


The soft drinks people choose are influenced by lots of different factors, some of which brand owners can control – like the brand. Other factors they have some control over, like the corporate reputation. And some they have little control over, like attitudes toward the category. All the brands face these challenges. Pepsi, and perhaps some of the other brands, are more suited for this competitive environment because of a history as a challenger brand. And PepsiCo has a more balanced portfolio and is in numerous categories at scale.


Graham Staplehurst

Global Content Director







New natural drinks become popular, as artificial declines


We talk about the end of artificial. We’re seeing alternatives gradually becoming the norm. Alternative dairy is booming. It’s small but growing. Sparkling, apart from soda, is doing well. People are moving away from soda, but they still want some kind of interesting beverage. Iced teas are doing well. They have a health halo, so we’re seeing a lot more tea brands emerge. We’re talking about healthier beverages, better options. Although plant-based beverages can be quite fatty, they’re natural. It’s similar to the way people see avocado as healthy, even though it is fatty. Millennials are a tough crowd. They want fewer ingredients, but they want more from their beverage. They want to know what the beverage is going to do for them.


Harriet Taylor

Consumer Insight Director

Kantar Worldpanel






Young reject diet

Options, but accept

energy drinks


The diet drinks are the least acceptable, especially to young people, because of the artificial ingredients. Millennials are much more interested in craft alternatives and even energy drinks are interesting. While some energy drinks have artificial ingredients the functional benefits they provide seem to offset concerns and people see them as perfectly appropriate for certain occasions. The largest growth opportunities are in water and tea. To grow, brands need to understand how best to communicate effectively to younger consumers and get them excited about the products.


Michele McDonald

Vice President, Client Management

Kantar Millward Brown