Meghan Deichert, Meghan Ellenbecker, Emily Klehr,
Leslie Pesarchick, & Kelly Ziegler
Strategic Management in a Global Context
February 22, 2006
Industry Analysis: Soft Drinks
Barbara Murray (2006c) explained the soft drink industry by stating, “For years the story
in the nonalcoholic sector centered on the power struggle between…Coke and Pepsi. But as the
pop fight has topped out, the industry's giants have begun relying on new product flavors…and
looking to noncarbonated beverages for growth.” In order to fully understand the soft drink
industry, the following should be considered: the dominant economic factors, five competitive
sources, industry trends, and the industry’s key factors. Based on the analyses of the industry,
specific recommendations for competitors can then be created.
Dominant Economic Factors
Market size, growth rate and overall profitability are three economic indicators that can
be used to evaluate the soft drink industry. The market size of this industry has been changing.
Soft drink consumption has a market share of 46.8% within the non-alcoholic drink industry,
illustrated in Table 1. Datamonitor (2005) also found that the total market value of soft drinks
reached $307.2 billion in 2004 with a market value forecast of $367.1 billion in 2009. Further,
the 2004 soft drink volume was 325,367.2 million liters (see Table 2). Clearly, the soft drink
industry is lucrative with a potential for high profits, but there are several obstacles to overcome
in order to capture the market share.
The growth rate has been recently criticized due to the U.S. market saturation of soft
drinks. Datamonitor (2005) stated, “Looking ahead, despite solid growth in consumption, the
global soft drinks market is expected to slightly decelerate, reflecting stagnation of market
prices.” The change is attributed to the other growing sectors of the non-alcoholic industry
including tea and coffee (11.8%) and bottled water (9.3%). Sports drinks and energy drinks are
also expected to increase in growth as competitors start adopting new product lines.
Profitability in the soft drink industry will remain rather solid, but market saturation
especially in the U.S. has caused analysts to suspect a slight deceleration of growth in the
industry (2005). Because of this, soft drink leaders are establishing themselves in alternative
markets such as the snack, confections, bottled water, and sports drinks industries (Barbara
Murray, 2006c). In order for soft drink companies to continue to grow and increase profits they
will need to diversify their product offerings.
The geographic scope of the competitive rivalry explains some of the economic features
found in the soft drink industry. According to Barbara Murray (2006c), “The sector is
dominated by three major players…Coca-Cola is king of the soft drink-empire and boasts a
global market share of around 50%, followed by PepsiCo at about 21%, and Cadbury Schweppes
at 7%.” Aside from these major players, smaller companies such as Cott Corporation and
National Beverage Company make up the remaining market share. All five of these companies
make a portion of their profits outside of the United States. Table 3 shows that the US does not
hold the highest percentage of the global market share, therefore companies need to be able to
compete globally in order to be successful.
Table 4 indicates that Coca-Cola has a similar distribution of sales in Europe, North
America, and Asia. On the other hand, the majority of PepsiCo’s profits come from the United
States (see Table 5). Compared to PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes has a stronger global presence
with their global mix (see Table 7). Smaller companies are also trying to establish a global
presence. Cott Corporation is a good example as indicated in Table 8. The saturation of the US
markets has increased the global expansion by soft drink leaders to increase their profits.
The ease of entry and exit does not cause competitive pressure on the major soft drink
companies. It would be very difficult for a new company to enter this industry because they
would not be able to compete with the established brand names, distribution channels, and high
capital investment. Likewise, leaving this industry would be difficult with the significant loss of
money from the fixed costs, binding contracts with distribution channels, and advertisements
used to create the strong brand images. This industry is well established already, and it would be
difficult for any company to enter or exit successfully.
Three leading companies have prominent presence in the soft drink industry. The leaders
include the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Cadbury Schweppes. According to the Coca-
Cola annual report (2004), it has the most soft drink sales with $22 billion. The Coca-Cola
product line has several popular soft drinks including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Fanta, Barq’s, and
Sprite, selling over 400 drink brands in about 200 nations (Murray 2006a). PepsiCo is the next
top competitor with soft drink sales grossing $18 billion for the two beverage subsidiaries,
PepsiCo Beverages North America and PepsiCo International (PepsiCo Inc., 2004). PepsiCo’s
soft drink product line includes Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Slice which make up more than one-
quarter of its sales. Cadbury Schweppes had soft drink sales of $6 billion with a product line
consisting of soft drinks such as A&W Root Beer, Canada Dry, and Dr. Pepper (Cadbury
The carbonated beverage industry is a highly competitive global industry as illustrated in
the financial statements. According to John Sicher of Beverage Digest (2005), Coca-Cola was
the number one brand with around 4.5 billion cases sold in 2004. Pepsi followed with 3.2 billion
cases, and Cadbury had 1.5 billion cases sold. However, the market share shows a different
picture. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo control the market share with Coca-Cola holding 43.1% and
Pepsi with 31.7% (see Graph 1); however these market shares for both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo
have slightly decreased from 2003 to 2004. Coca-Cola’s volume has also decreased 1.0% since
2003, whereas PepsiCo’s volume has increased 0.4% (see Graph 1). Diet Coke posted a 5%
growth, but Coca-Cola’s other top 10 brands declined (Sicher, 2005). Overall, Coca-Cola’s
market position has declined in 2004. The strategic group map (see Graph 1) also shows the
growth of Cott Corp. of 18% which is significantly higher than that of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
The American Beverage Association (2006) states that in 2004, the retail sales for the
entire soft-drink industry were $65.9 billion. Barbara Murray (2006e) analyzed the industry
averages for 2004 and average net profit margin was 11.29%. The current ratio average was
1.11 and the quick ratio average was 0.8. These figures help analyze the financial statements of
the major corporations in the industry.
As shown in Table 13, Coca-Cola has seen their net profit margin increase from 20.7% to 22.1%
from 2003 to 2004. According to Coca-Cola’s annual report (2004), 80% of their sales are from
soft drinks; therefore the total sales amount was used for their financial analysis. These figures
show that their profits are increasing, but at a slow rate. This is in line with what is happening in
the soft drink industry. The market is highly competitive and growth has remained at a stable
level. The slight increase in Coca-Cola’s profit margin is most likely from their new energy
drink product line. This industry is currently expanding rapidly, and is allowing the major
beverage companies to increase their profits.
Table 13 also shows Coca-Cola’s working capital was around $1.1 billion in 2004. This
is a large increase from 2003 at only $500 million. This shows that they have sufficient funds to
pursue new opportunities. However, their current ratio and quick ratio are a cause for concern.
A current ratio of 2 or better is considered good and Coca-Cola’s was 1.102. This number shows
that they may not have enough funds to cover short term claims. The quick ratio for 2004 was at
0.906 and is considered good when it is greater than 1. This illustrates that Coca-Cola may not
have the ability to pay short term debt without selling inventory. These two numbers are a
concern because they are not able to satisfy their short term obligations. The current and quick
ratios are in line with the industry averages, however (Murray, 2006e), Coca-Cola needs to
improve these ratios in order focus on long-term plans (Coca-Cola Company, 2004).
PepsiCo’s financial statements cannot be analyzed for only the soft drinks industry
because they do not distinguish between businesses. Over half their profits are from snacks or
other beverage items; however there are sales and profit figures for their two beverage
subsidiaries. These sales figures grew from almost $16.5 billion in 2003 to $18 billion in 2004
(Pepsi Co. Inc., 2004). Their operating profit margin also increased 1% from 2003 to 2004 as
illustrated in Table 13. This shows that beverage profits are increasing for them, but also at a
slow rate. The increase could be due to the increase in market share that the Pepsi products
gained in 2004 (Sicher 2004). The PepsiCo. Annual Report (2004) stated that beverage volume
increased 3% in 2004, but was driven by the high growth of the non-carbonated beverage
Cadbury’s current and quick ratios are very similar to those of Coca-Cola. The current
ratio and quick ratio for Cadbury Schweppes for 2004 were both 0.917 (see Table 13). Again,
the current ratio should be 2 or more, and the quick ratio should be over 1. This illustrates that
Cadbury also has difficulty paying short term debt and claims. Cadbury’s net profit margin has
increased by 0.7% from 2003 to 2004. This can be attributed to their market share growth in
2004 of 0.2% (Sicher, 2005). One ratio that is concerning is their debt to equity ratio for 2004 in
Table 13. They have almost two times as much debt as they do to equity, which means that their
funds are mainly provided by creditors as opposed to owners. This is concerning because they
owe a lot of money, and must make a decent profit to be able to pay it off. The industry average
for debt to equity is 81%, and Cadbury is far from that number (2006e). Also, Cadbury has a
negative working capital for both 2003 and 2004, meaning they have more liabilities than assets.
This shows that they do not have any funds to pursue new opportunities, as their current assets
are being used to pay off liabilities (Cadbury, 2004).
Overall, the financial statements of the three top competitors in the soft drink industry
show that the industry is highly competitive and has little growth. Net profit margins increased
for all three corporations, however only at a small rate. It also seems that all three companies
lack sufficient current and quick ratios, but are all within a reasonable range of the industry
average (2006e). This may be due to expanding their product lines to include energy drinks and
non-carbonated beverages in order to increase profits and diversify their business. The soft
drinks market is now in the matured stage of the life cycle. Growth in the industry has remained
stagnant, and the financial statements of the major corporations in the industry illustrate that their
sales and income are following this trend.
The companies are in good financial positions; gross profits and net profit margins are
continuing to increase each year. The leverage and activity ratios are all within reasonable
range. However, one area all three corporations need to improve on is the liquidity ratios. Their
quick and current ratios are low and need to be increased so they are able to meet short-term
Five Competitive Forces for Coca-Cola Company
The soft drink industry is very competitive for all corporations involved, with the greatest
competition being that from rival sellers within the industry. All soft drink companies have to
think about the pressures; that from rival sellers within the industry, new entrants to the industry,
substitute products, suppliers, and buyers.
The competitive pressure from rival sellers is the greatest competition that Coca-Cola
faces in the soft drink industry. Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co., and Cadbury Schweppes are the largest
competitors in this industry, and they are all globally established which creates a great amount of
competition. Though Coca-Cola owns four of the top five soft drink brands (Coca-Cola, Diet
Coke, Fanta, and Sprite), it had lower sales in 2005 than did PepsiCo (Murray, 2006c).
However, Coca-Cola has higher sales in the global market than PepsiCo. In 2004, PepsiCo
dominated North America with sales of $22 billion, whereas Coca-Cola only had about $6.6
billion, with more of their sales coming from overseas, as shown in Table 4 and Table 5.
PepsiCo is the main competitor for Coca-Cola and these two brands have been in a power
struggle for years (Murray, 2006c).
Brand name loyalty is another competitive pressure. The Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty
Leaders Survey (2004) shows the brands with the greatest customer loyalty in all industries. Diet
Pepsi ranked 17th and Diet Coke ranked 36th as having the most loyal customers to their brands.
Refer to List 15 for the brand loyalty rankings of the various competitors. The new competition
between rival sellers is to create new varieties of soft drinks, such as vanilla and cherry, in order
to keep increasing sales and enticing new customers (Murray, 2006c).
New entrants are not a strong competitive pressure for the soft drink industry. Coca-Cola
and Pepsi Co dominate the industry with their strong brand name and great distribution channels.
In addition, the soft-drink industry is fully saturated and growth is small. This makes it very
difficult for new, unknown entrants to start competing against the existing firms. Another barrier
to entry is the high fixed costs for warehouses, trucks, and labor, and economies of scale. New
entrants cannot compete in price without economies of scale. These high capital requirements
and market saturation make it extremely difficult for companies to enter the soft drink industry;
therefore new entrants are not a strong competitive force (Murray, 2006c).
Substitute products are those competitors that are not in the soft drink industry. Such
substitutes for Coca-Cola products are bottled water, sports drinks, coffee, and tea. Bottled water
and sports drinks are increasingly popular with the trend to be a more health conscious
consumer. There are progressively more varieties in the water and sports drinks that appeal to
different consumers’ tastes, but also appear healthier than soft drinks. In addition, coffee and tea
are competitive substitutes because they provide caffeine. The consumers who purchase a lot of
soft drinks may substitute coffee if they want to keep the caffeine and lose the sugar and
carbonation. Specialty blend coffees are also becoming more popular with the increasing
number of Starbucks stores that offer many different flavors to appeal to all consumer markets.
It is also very cheap for consumers to switch to these substitutes making the threat of substitute
products very strong (Datamonitor, 2005).
Suppliers for the soft drink industry do not hold much competitive pressure. Suppliers to
Coca-Cola are bottling equipment manufacturers and secondary packaging suppliers. Although
Coca-Cola does not do any bottling, the company owns about 36% of Coca-Cola Enterprises
which is the largest Coke bottler in the world (Murray, 2006a). Since Coca-Cola owns the
majority of the bottler, that particular supplier does not hold much bargaining power. In terms of
equipment manufacturers, the suppliers are generally providing the same products. The number
of equipment suppliers is not in short supply, so it is fairly easy for a company to switch
suppliers. This takes away much of suppliers’ bargaining power.
The buyers of the Coca-Cola and other soft drinks are mainly large grocers, discount
stores, and restaurants. The soft drink companies distribute the beverages to these stores, for
resale to the consumer. The bargaining power of the buyers is very evident and strong. Large
grocers and discount stores buy large volumes of the soft drinks, allowing them to buy at lower
prices. Restaurants have less bargaining power because they do not order a large volume.
However, with the number of people are drinking less soft drinks, the bargaining power of
buyers could start increasing due to decreasing buyer demand (Murray, 2006a).
Porter’s Five Forces Model identifies the five forces of competition for any company.
The recognition of the strength of these forces helps to see where Coca-Cola stands in the
industry. Of the five forces, rivalry within the soft drink industry, especially from PepsiCo, is
the greatest source of competition for Coca-Cola.
The soft drink industry is affected by macroenvironmental factors of the industry that will
lead to change. First, the entry/exit of major firms is a trend in the industry that will likely lead
to change. More specifically, merger and consolidation has been prevalent in the soft drinks
market, causing some firms to exit the industry and then re-enter themselves. Several leading
companies have been looking to drive revenue growth and improve market share through the
increased economies of scale found through mergers and acquisitions. One specific example is
how PepsiCo acquired Quaker Oats, who bought Gatorade which will help expand PepsiCo’s
energy drink sector (Datamonitor, 2005). This trend has increased competition as firms’
diversification of products is increasing.
A second trend in the macroenvironment is globalization. With the growing use of the
internet and other electronic technologies, global communication is rapidly increasing. This is