Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You Can't get a Pepsi at McDonald's

Really, you can't.

McDonald's carries Coca Cola products, so the idea of the 'other' brand showing up within the Golden arches is nil.

The Minnesota Twins only serve Pepsi in their Target Stadium.
No Coke to be found there.

But certainly no one chooses their Fast Food restaurant or favorite ball team by the soda they serve, or don't serve.

Cola, despite millions of dollars on branding, is unfortunately indistinguishable amongst the masses. Sure, when they are side-by-side you can tell the difference in a taste test, but the difference is NOT so drastic that it would ruin your meal.

A waitress at a diner I frequent recently insisted that she has had customers walk out of the establishment because they wanted a Coke and was served a Pepsi.

Even my favorite China Buffet serves soda in tall red glasses that have the Pepsi logo on them.
(surely you can see the irony...why not Blue glasses?!)

In fact, when I order a 'Coke with no ice, lemon' with my meal, the waitress will ask me if Pepsi is "OK" if that's all they serve. (Surely they are concerned that I'll make a fuss like the before-mentioned senior citizen did...). No need to worry. I can tell the difference, but it wont ruin my meal.

Do folks in Atlanta feel pretty strong about the flavor differences? I understand they do more so there than elsewhere. Atlanta prides itself on being the home to Coca Cola, and has been drinking the product for over a century. Those taste buds are pretty well tuned in.

But when Average Joe makes a stink in a New Jersey restaurant because he wants a Coca Cola and not a Pepsi, I'm confused.

Or maybe I'm just so in love with soda that it's made me more accepting?
Hell, don't we always accept the flaws and short comings of those we love?
I'm a huge fan of contact sports, even though I know it's violent and sometimes bloody.

But alas, I digress...

Coca Cola and Pepsi are smart to form agreements with fast food chains and other establishments, but I don't think it's an issue of 'conversion'. If you can only get Pepsi at Taco Bell, and you eat at Taco Bell once a week, it doesn't mean you'll in short time stop drinking Coca Cola because you are 'conditioned' to.

No, in fact the smartest part of the exclusivity arrangements is that it ensures you 'x' cases of soda will be sold each week...because a LOT of people order a soda with the meal! So why give the customer a chance to NOT buy YOUR soda? Keep the competition the hell outta there!

Soda exclusivity in fast food restaurants.
Score one for good business, score none of cornering the market of one's mouth.

Footnote - my thanks to Seth Godin for the title. His recent blog post inspired me to write the article, even though it wasn't the basis of HIS thesis.

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