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Competitor Strategies in Soft Drinks

August 2022

This report examines the competitive strategies of the major brand owners within the global soft drinks industry as they navigate and shift their strategies in a post-COVID-19 environment. Competitive activity over the past year is discussed, focusing on the strategic direction of each major producer – from sustainability goals, evolving product categories and healthier beverage innovation, in addition to functional drinks offerings.

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Key findings

Sustainable packaging and product development is a key factor in future strategies

The top companies within soft drinks are coming closer to their sustainability targets. Innovation and investment in sustainable packaging and bottling remain a key priority as consumers continue to highlight unsustainable practices as a key concern. Multinationals have set clear goals to achieve sustainable practices and to eventually become net-zero in their greenhouse gas emissions, while introducing 100% recyclable and recycled packaging and bottled beverages.

Exposure in new markets benefiting from investment and growth in evolving categories

As companies identified new markets with potential demand for new products in terms of flavouring and energy boosting capabilities, increased investment specifically in energy drinks has benefited a few companies in particular, such as Monster Beverage Corp, Red Bull GmbH and PepsiCo with its Rockstar Energy brand. More affordable energy drinks brands in emerging markets particularly are gaining shares on brands that have traditionally dominated the market.

Less sugar and healthier functional beverages remain top of order

As consumer demand shifts more and more towards healthier and functional beverages, traditional carbonates brands have had to innovate by introducing less and no sugar alternatives and updating or revamping their flavouring. Apart from carbonates, sports drinks and energy drinks have been introducing exciting new flavouring combinations highlighted by less or no sugar variants as well as claimed functional benefits for sports drinks and functional beverages alike.

Scope
Key findings
Leading carbonates brands maintain dominant position in soft drinks
Consumer shift towards health and wellness brands drives category growth
Carbonates offerings still the leading brands, as low and zero sugar sustains demand
Focus on product innovation and market expansion boost energy drinks brands
Increased product portfolios in emerging markets ensures strong revenues
Fortified/functional beverages beneficial across subcategories
Private label with better for value offerings moving closer to the top 10
M&A activity set to pay dividends for leading companies
Strategic direction of Coca-Cola, leading player in global soft drinks industry
Coca-Cola’s sustainable World Without Waste agenda
Competitors’ approach to sustainable product offerings
Bottled water leading packaging innovation and sustainability
Coca-Cola’s investments and focus on evolving categories
Countries expected to lead forecast value growth for PepsiCo energy drinks portfolio
Strong value positioning for reduced sugar energy drinks
Less sugar and healthier, functional alternatives more relevant than ever
Leading companies’ healthier beverage brand initiatives
Balancing price premiumisation and health positioning
Blurring category lines as Coca-Cola taps into the hard seltzer trend
SodaStream appealing to at-home consumption convenience and sustainability
Suntory “Work Anywhere” marketing campaign
Key Takeaways: rest of the year

Soft Drinks

This is the aggregation of the following categories; Carbonates, Fruit/vegetable juice, Bottled water, Functional drinks, Concentrates, RTD tea, RTD coffee and Asian speciality drinks.

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