5-1 Blog: Top Dog Versus Underdog

Coke vs Pepsi

What is the brand strategy being used by the top dog? What is the brand strategy being used by the underdog?

Coca-Cola and Pepsi share a long history of global competition, but Coke is still “top dog” with a market share of 17.8% (Bronner, 2018). So how do they continue to dominate the soda world? It’s simple. They have a powerful brand strategy that starts with consistency. This industry leader knows it’s vital, and they’ve maintained their iconic tell-tale red logo. Coke also puts the focus on their brand rather than the product by promoting happiness and bringing family and friends together, which can be seen in their “Share a Coke and Share the Summer” campaign. This tactic helps Coca-Cola to position themselves in consumer’s minds, so they see this brand as part of their daily lives. And as equally important, this allows Coke to be universal and understood across all cultures and languages.

Furthermore, Pepsi might be the “underdog” with a market share of only 8.4% (Bronner, 2018). But their brand strategy has allowed them to give Coke quite a challenge. For years, they’ve focused heavily on their products and have managed to maintain the “cool and refreshing taste” that consumers love. They’ve also kept a consistent image with their swirling red, white, and blue sphere-like logo. And today it’s considered one of the world’s most recognizable trademarks. In addition, Pepsi has positioned themselves as a unique brand that reflects youthful energy, which is also a key theme in many of their campaigns, including “Live For Now.” Essentially, their goal is to have a fresh and lively personality that every young person can relate to.

How can the underdog improve its strategy so that it can gain more market share and surpass the top dog? Provide three recommendations.

If Pepsi improves its strategy, it could gain more market share and possibly even surpass Coke. One way they could do that is through emotional branding in which they effectively inspire an audience to connect with their brand emotionally. This tactic is beneficial because when a brand’s message resonates with a consumer, top-of-mind awareness is amplified. Another way Pepsi could achieve this is by becoming consumer-focused. Instead of making it their mission to sell the product, they should focus on creating great customer experiences. That can be done by learning more about their audience’s behavior, needs, and desires. Also, this brand has brought back their loyalty program, which is a great way to reward customers for their purchase. I would recommend, however, that they offer more than bikes, LED signs, T-shirts, etc. as this may not appeal to everyone in their target audience whose ages range from 15 to 45 years old (Dudovskiy, 2016).

Why do you believe consumers prefer the top dog over the underdog? Which do you prefer, and why?

Consumers prefer the “top dog” over the “underdog,” even though Pepsi has won many taste tests. The reason for this lies in emotional branding. Coke never tells consumers how fizzy, sweet, or refreshing its soft drinks are but instead shows the kind of lifestyle the brand embodies, which surrounds happiness. This resonates with many people, including myself, as we are all in pursuit of it. Essentially, living a life that I feel good about might mean making some sacrifices along the way, such as working and going to school full time. But whenever I get overwhelmed and want to feel good for a fleeting moment, I take a break with a Diet Coke and remind myself that it’s all going to be worth it and I got this!

Diet Coke


Bronner, D. (2018, February 21). Why Coke Is Winning the Cola Wars. Retrieved from https://money.cnn.com/2018/02/20/news/companies/cola-wars-coke-pepsi/index.html

Dudovskiy, J. (2016, May 9). PepsiCo Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. Retrieved from https://research-methodology.net/pepsico-segmentation-targeting-and-positioning-2/

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