The Pepsi Challenge: Brand Positioning against the Brand Category Leader

Pepsi is taking steps to build its brand. According to a May, 2012 Advertising Age article, Pepsi has fallen from its place as the number 2 soda to become number 3 (behind Coke and Diet Coke), and has seen its market share fall by 0.3% and a sales volume fall of 4.8% last year alone.

The Pepsi Challenge

One of the steps that Pepsi is taking is the return of its iconic taste test, the Pepsi Challenge. In 1976, Pepsi launched the Pepsi Challenge blind taste test pitting Pepsi against Coke. The brand marketing genius of the taste tests was that, in blind taste tests, consumers were surprised to learn that they preferred Pepsi over Coke.

The new Pepsi Challenge is set to launch worldwide in the summer of 2012. According to the Globe and Mail, Pepsi is planning to have 1.5 million Canadians take the Pepsi Challenge. Pepsi will be modernizing the Pepsi Challenge using giant tablets and social media to reveal and share the results.

Taste Tests: Brand Position in Brand Marketing

The Pepsi Challenge is a good example of a position-driven brand marketing campaign. Position-driven brand advertising is all about positioning a brand, relative to a leading brand in the brand category. Two keys to brand positioning are:

  1. brand awareness (or increasing brand awareness) in a particular brand category, and
  2. differentiating the brand so customers will remember it.

Coke is the current and historic leader of the cola brand category. As a result, Pepsi can reap benefits from positioning itself against Coke, and Pepsi doesn’t need to be the hands-down winner in the taste tests to do that. Provided Pepsi enjoys a respectable taste test results, then the new Pepsi Challenge campaign will help build the Pepsi brand. Pepsi will be able to increase awareness of its brand in the cola brand category and use social media to increase the reach of its campaign.

For more on using brand positioning in brand advertising, please see our post How to use your Brand Strategy in your Brand Advertising. For additional information on Pepsi brand marketing, please see: (i) Pepsi Tackles Identity Crisis, May 7, 2012 Advertising Age, (ii) Pepsi reviving taste challenge, May 17, 2012 Globe and Mail and (iii) Candid Commercials: Real People in Advertising, January, 2011, CBC Age of Persuasion.

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