Coke vs Pepsi: The Innovation Winner

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Coca-Cola (herein referred to as “Coke”) and Pepsi have both been in business since the late 1800s selling their respective brands of carbonated beverages (Zmuda, 2011). In 1975, Pepsi began the “Pepsi Challenge” that pitted Pepsi against Coke in taste tests across North America. This “challenge” continued into the 1980s and has been coined the “Cola Wars” (Zmuda, 2011). Zmuda (2011) states that in 2011 Pepsi lost the “Cola Wars” when Diet Coke took the number two spot from Pepsi. While it is still debatable how long this will last, there are some key differences in management and how innovation is viewed by these two companies that may provide some insight into why this happened. Upon reviewing the two companies’ websites, glaring differences immediately present themselves. To begin, the Coke website appears very inviting and links for innovation are everywhere. There is a strong emphasis on the consumer, employees and global partners and less emphasis on products or shareholder information (Coca-Cola Website, 2011). The Pepsi website, on the other hand, is more product and shareholder focused and speaks very little about its innovation processes (Pepsi Website, n.d.). Interestingly, the information contained within the sites appear to be good indicators of each of the respective companies’ views and values. The attitudes each company holds towards its consumers, employees and shareholders appears to influence their innovation strategies. One analyst noted that Pepsi “emphasizes innovating to find what the consumer will want next, while Coke focus on innovation within its core brands” (Zmuda, 2011, p. 2). Pepsi has made attempts to redefine its brand by changing logos, slogans, and campaign directions numerous times over the ... ... middle of paper ... ...r innovation winner! References Coca-Cola Website. (2011). Davila, T., Epstein, M. J., & Shelton, R. D. (2013). Making innovation work: How to manage it, measure it, and profit from it (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. O’Toole, J. (2009, September/October). Connecting the dots between leadership, ethics and corporate culture. Ivey Business Journal, 73(5), 3. Retrieved from Pepsi Website. (n.d.). PepsiCo Strategy: Marketing, International, Competitive, Jobs 2013. (2013). Retrieved from Zmuda, N. (2011). How Pepsi blinked, fell behind Diet Coke. Advertising Age, 82(12), 1-6. Retrieved from

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