Cola Wars Continue: Coke and P
In the late 1990s, Pepsi moved even further away from head-to-head competition and instead concentrated on emerging markets that were still up for grabs. “We kept beating our heads in nternationally and its operating
profit from overseas was up 37%. Market share gains were reported in most of Pepsi-Cola International’s top 25 markets, including increases of 10% in India, 16% in China, and more than 100% in Russia. By 2000, international sales accounted for 62% of Coke’s and 9% of Pepsi’s revenues. Concentrate producers encountered various obstacles in international operations, including cultural differences, political instability, regulations, price controls, advertising restrictions, foreign exchange controls, and lack of infrastructure. When Coke attempted to acquire Cadbury Schweppes’ international practice, for example, it ran into regulatory roadblocks in Europe and in Mexico and Australia, where Coke’s market shares exceed 50%. On the other hand, Japanese domestic-protection price controls in the 1950s greased the skids for Coke’s high concentrate prices and high profitability, and in India, mandatory certification for bottled drinking water caused several local brands to fold. 33 John Huey, “The World’s Best Brand,” Fortune, May 31, 1993. 34John Huey, “The World’s Best Brand,” Fortune, May 31, 1993. 35 Larry Jabbonsky, “Room to Run,” Beverage World, August 1993. 36The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 1991.
37 John Byrne, “PepsiCo’s New Formula: How Roger Enrico is Remaking the Company...and Himself,” BusinessWeek, April 10, 2000.
Cola Wars Continue: Coke and Pepsi in the Twenty-First Century
To cope with immature distribution networks, Coke and Pepsi created their own ground-up, and often novel, systems. Coke introduced vending machines to Japan, a channel that eventually accounted for more than half of Coke’s Japanese sales.38 In India, Pepsi found the most prominent businessman in town and gave him exclusive distribution rights, tapping his connections to drive growth.
Significantly, both Coke and Pepsi recognized local-market demands for non-cola products. In 2000, Coke carried more than 200 brands in Japan alone, most of which were teas, coffees, juices, and flavored water. In Brazil, Coke offered two brands of guarana, a popular caffeinated carbonated berry drink accounting for one-quarter of that country’s CSD sales, despite rivals’ TV ads ridiculing “gringo guarana.”
When the economy foundered in certain parts of the world during the late 1990s, annual consumption declined in many regions. Major financial quakes in East Asia in 1997, Russia in 1998 and Brazil in 1999 shook the cola giants, who had invested heavily in bottler infrastructure. From 1995 to 2000, Coke’s top line slowed to an average annual growth of less than 3%. Profits actually fell from $3.0 billion in 1995 to $2.2 billion in 2000. In Russia, where Coke invested more than $700 million from 1991 to 1999, the collapse of the economy caused sales to drop by as much as 60% and left Coke’s seven bottling plants operating at 50% capacity. In Brazil, its third-largest market, Coke lost more than 10% of its 54% market share to low-cost local drinks produced by family-owned bottlers exempt from that country’s punitive soft-drink taxes. In 1998, Coke estimated that a strong dollar cut into net sales by 9%. Pepsi, with its relatively lower overseas presence, was less affected by the crises. Nonetheless, Pepsi also subsidized its bottlers while experiencing a drop in sales. Despite these financial setbacks, both Coke and Pepsi expressed confidence in the future growth of international consumption and used the downturn as an opportunity to snatch up bottlers, distribution, and even rival brands. To increase sales, they tried to make their products more affordable through measures such as refundable glass packaging (instead of plastic) and cheaper 6.5ounce...