jeudi 8 novembre 2012

Soft drinks: Consumer insight

We consumers are very demanding. We love to have choice, to switch from a flavor to another, from a brand to another. Companies had to adapt their products because it is definitely one of the most important thing in FMCG’s consumer behavior.  Customers are likely to buy a product according to their desire. Basically, a soft drink has to taste good, but it also has to respond to many other consumer purchasing criteria, that we are just going to talk about.


It can be various regarding the taste, but not only. The size of the bottles produced is also important. A family won’t buy the same shape as an individual. In order to respond to this specific needs, a lot of companies have adapted their bottle size according to their need. Of course, the bottle is not only about size but also about materials used and design.


The trend is for natural products, even with benefits for health. Cola market has suffered from the image of a product bad for health, and cannot rely on that criteria anymore (as they did at the beginning of the 20th century). The components are important for consumers to indentify how good/bad can the product be for their health. The percentage of sugar or oil is for example significant. Another criteria is the existence of a polemical component (aspartame in diet drinks and food). 


A lot of actors in the market use this criterion to improve their performance and sales (eg.private labels). People are attentive to the price regarding the benefits brought by the product. Products such as private labels base their strategy on the price because they give no more than the product itself, while top brands are seen as more than just are product. 


More and more people pay attention to the environment and the way companies manage their impact on environment and more generally CSR. Recyclable bottles, re-used bottles, production model, transportation… are things people may look at before buying a soft drink.


An external criteria that influences consumer choice is the weather. That kind of products are mostly consumed when customer is thirsty or want something fresh. France has experience a drop in soft drink’s sales because of the bad weather last summer. It is a very important criteria as the consumption has peaks during specific seasons.

Nowadays, major soft drink brands deliver a battle in this segment, with the Coke vs Pepsi historical war. Their main weapons: 


All well-known brands such as Coke, Pepsi or Schweppes have a specific position in the market and try to highlight it through their advertising, sponsorships, digital tools, consumer experience, limited edition bottles (designed by Jean Paul Gauthier, Fred & Farid for eg.) …that is to say marketing.


The notion of benefit is subjective and can be based on different things such as originality, belonging to a community, a social class, living an experience, effect on health…
If we take as an example Coca Cola, consumer’s will think “unique moment” or “happiness”. If it is Pepsi, it would be “youth”, “modernity”. 
The consumer recognizes itself in the product’s benefits and values and will be more likely to buy it.

We will focus on benefits expected in carbonated soft drink market further.

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