- Coca-Cola is the top-ranked non-alcoholic beverage brand in the U.S. for consumers' face-to-face and social media conversations, according to the latest research from Engagement Labs, which looked at the past six months. Pepsi was pushed out of the top 10, dropping from #7 in March to #11 now.
- Besides Coca-Cola (#1), other brands gaining position compared with the last analysis in March include Tropicana (#2), Dr. Pepper (#5), Lipton (#7), Folgers Coffee (#8) and Canada Dry (#10). Two brands making their debut in the current top 10 rankings are Folgers, propelled by a skyrocketing online influencer score, and Canada Dry, largely due to an improved offline influence score. Rounding out the list: Gatorade (#3), Simply Orange (#4), Minute Maid (#6) and Ocean Spray (#9).
- Engagement Labs' rankings are based on the research firm's proprietary TotalSocial technology, which tracks social media (online) and word-of-mouth (offline) consumer conversations of 500 brands across 16 categories in the U.S. and 350 brands across 18 categories in the U.K.
As consumers become increasingly health-conscious and beverage companies try to better align product offerings with their needs, it is more important than ever for beverage marketers to understand what consumers are saying about their brands in both online and offline conversations, according to a statement from Engagement Labs.
It’s no surprise Coca-Cola climbed from second place six months ago to claim the top spot on the research firm’s latest ranking of non-alcoholic beverages based on consumer conversations. The company has been creating quite a stir lately with its launch of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which replaced Coke Zero on store shelves in August. Coke Zero Sugar has no calories, no sugar and a caffeine load comparable to Coke Zero. This is the latest move by Coca-Cola to boost expansion and awareness of its non-sugary drink options, and it seems to be working. Two of the company’s juice brands, Simply Orange and Minute Maid, made the list as well.
Consumer sentiments surrounding the Pepsi brand have fallen flat, not a huge surprise given the company’s most recent quarterly earnings report that saw snacks performance well outpacing beverages. Pepsi took the biggest fall of the brands presented on Engagement Labs' rankings, dropping four spots. This was due in large part to negative conversations surrounding its controversial ad featuring Kendall Jenner, which launched in April. PepsiCo's Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston said in interviews that the company had also not concentrated on marketing its flagship brand during the previous three months. Still, PepsiCo garnered two slots on the list with its Tropicana and Gatorade brands, reflecting the importance of a diversified drinks portfolio.
Leaping onto the chart was Smucker’s-owned Folgers Coffee, which moved up three spots since the March study, and Dr Pepper Snapple’s Canada Dry, up six slots. Folgers’ advancement was in large part due to marketing efforts that teamed the coffee brand with country music star Chris Young to promote a jingle contest. Consumers were asked to record and upload their own videos singing a jingle with voting taking place through social media.
Canada Dry’s breakthrough was related to the extension of its “Relax Harder” campaign, in which the brand introduced a new slogan: “Busy Is a 4-Letter Word.” The drink maker leveraged owned social media, paid digital ads and influencer outreach to generate consumer buzz.
“A lot of the shifts in our beverage ranking are due to improved performance among everyday influencers,” CEO of Engagement Labs Ed Keller said in a statement. “Influencers are not to be underestimated, and most importantly, they should be engaged with. They’re also not necessarily mega-stars — rather they are our friends and neighbors who keep up with what’s new, and are often sought out for their advice and recommendations. Everyday influencers are receptive to brand messages, and when they find it interesting, they share what they learn. This is a significant opportunity for consumer goods brands to take note and learn the lessons from these beverage leaders.”
It’s especially interesting to note that just three of the top 10 beverage brands in Engagement Labs’ consumer conversations rankings are carbonated soft drinks. Of the seven other drinks making the list, four are juice brands — Tropicana, Simply Orange, Minute Maid and Ocean Spray — reflecting the shift in consumer demand away from fizzy, sugary drinks toward fresher and healthier alternatives.