Snapple is in a financial funk. Clearly Canadian is in a sales free-fall. Results are mixed for Pepsi's juice line. Coca-Cola's Fruitopia is off to a slow start.
These could have been headlines for these New Age beverages. They do accurately describe their performance. At the same time, "plain old" carbonated beverages were making a comeback after years of flat sales.
One reason cited for these results is the fading intensity of America's health kick. Consumers seem to have grown weary of sipping "all-natural" teas and juices. Many have returned to chugging sweet, fizzy colas. A second reason, according to taste researchers, is that people quickly get tired of the taste of distinctive juices and unusual teas. According to one industry expert, a third reason is that many consumers got caught up in the mystical, good-for-you, Generation X phenomenon. The phenomenon was cute and interesting for a while, but had no staying power.
A fourth reason cited for waning consumer interests is in consumer perceptions. Originally, many consumers believe that all-natural sodas, teas and juices were healthier than brown cola. However, it has been discovered that many of these alternative beverages contain more sugar than do traditional colas.
Finally, the new generation of soft drinks has not pleased bottlers. Many bottlers spend millions of dollars to overhaul their product lines or change their distribution systems to accommodate the new soft drinks. Despite the many new products, New Age beverages have resulted in only small sales increases.
Sales of these alternative beverages are still growing, reaching a level of USD 5.36 billion in 1999. In that same year, the soft drink industry had total sales of about USD 51 billion.
Some industry experts are predicting an industry shakeout. Their reasoning is that New Age beverage sales are driven by trendy young consumers who are constantly seeking the latest drink. Tapping into this young generation, over 100 companies introduced a New Age beverage into the marketplace.
- Describe the external factors that have an impact on the soft drink industry.
- How would you assess the competitive situation in the soft drink industry?
- What marketing strategies might be appropriate for soft drink marketers in order to improve sales of New Age beverages?