The Coke Pepsi Rivalry


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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG002
Case Length : 9 Pages
Period : 1997-2001
Pub Date : 2001
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Coca Cola India Ltd Pepsi India Ltd
Industry : Food, Beverages and Tobacco
Countries : India

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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V -Other Fronts

• Till the late 1980s, the standard SKU for a soft drink was 200 ml. Around 1989, Pepsi launched 250 ml bottles and the market also moved on to the new standard size. When Coke re-entered India in 1993, it introduced 300 ml as the smallest bottle size. Soon, Pepsi followed and 300 ml became the standard.

But around 1996, the excise component led to an increase in prices and a single 300 ml purchase became expensive. Both the companies thus decided to bring back the 200 ml bottle, In early 1996, Coke launched its 200 ml bottles in Meerut and gradually extended to Kanpur, Varanasi, Punjab and Gujarat, and later to the south...

• In May 1996, Coke launched Thums Up in blue cans, with four different pictures depicting 'macho sports'such as sky diving, surfing, wind-surfing and snow-boarding. Much to Pepsi's chagrin, the cans were colored blue - the color Pepsi had chosen for its identity a month earlier, in response to Coke's 'red'identity...

• There were frequent complaints from both the players about their bottlers and retailers being hijacked. Pepsi's blue painted retail outlets being painted in Coke's red color overnight and vice-versa was a common phenomena in the 1990s...

• Coke also turned its attention to Pepsi's stronghold - the retail outlets. Between 1996-98, Coke doubled its reach to a reported 5 lakh outlets, when Pepsi was present at only 3.5 lakh outlets.

To reach out to smaller markets, interceptor units in the form of mobile vans were also launched by Coke in 1998 in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

However, in its rush to beat Pepsi at the retail game, Coke seemed to have faltered on the service front. For instance, many shops in Uttar Pradesh frequently ran out of stock and there was no servicing for Coke's coolers...

Is The Rivalry Healthy?

In a market where the product and tastes remained virtually indistinguishable and fairly constant, brand recognition was a crucial factor for the cola companies. The quest for better brand recognition was the guiding force for Coke and Pepsi to a large extent...


 

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