USA: Dr Pepper Surpasses Pepsi

Coca-Cola continues to dominate the U.S. soda market, holding a significant lead over its competitors. As of 2023, Coca-Cola captured 19.2% of the market share by volume, maintaining its position as the top soda in America. However, there has been a notable shift in the rankings for the runner-up spot. Dr Pepper has surpassed Pepsi, becoming the second most popular soda in the country, each holding a market share of 8.3%, with Dr Pepper slightly ahead.

Dr Pepper's ascent to the number two position marks a significant change. Two decades ago, Dr Pepper's sales were less than half of Pepsi's, and it was only the sixth most popular soda behind brands like Sprite. Dr Pepper, which originated in 1885, a year before Coca-Cola, and eight years before Pepsi, has been steadily increasing its market share through aggressive advertising, the introduction of new flavors, and leveraging social media trends, particularly on TikTok.

The brand has effectively capitalized on the rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which often have exclusive deals with restaurant chains. Dr Pepper, however, benefits from distribution agreements with both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-affiliated locations, enhancing its presence in various establishments. This distribution strategy, along with its marketing efforts, has helped Dr Pepper gain popularity, especially among Gen Z consumers.

Dr Pepper is owned by Keurig Dr Pepper, a beverage company established in 2018 when JAB Holding Company, owned by the discreet Reimann family from Germany acquired Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS), an American beverage company renowned for brands like Dr. Pepper, 7UP, Snapple, and Bai, for USD 18.7 billion. Post-acquisition, DPS was merged with Keurig Green Mountain, a US-based specialty coffee and coffee maker company founded in 1981. The resulting entity was aimed at combining the strengths of both companies and achieving combined sales of approximately USD 11 billion at that time (, 29.1.2018).

Pepsi, despite its historical near-win in the 1980s cola wars and continuous strong presence, has seen a decline in its market share as consumers shift towards lower-sugar alternatives and other competitors. While Pepsi remains the second overall soda brand when considering its diet and zero-sugar variants, Dr Pepper's rise reflects broader trends in consumer preferences towards flavored sodas.

Dr Pepper's marketing campaigns, such as those targeting college football audiences and promoting unique flavors like strawberries and cream, have resonated well with younger drinkers. Additionally, viral trends on TikTok, including the "Dirty Dr Pepper" concoction and the popularity of filling Stanley cups with ice and Dr Pepper, have further boosted its appeal.


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