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Beauty and the Beast: US consumers ditch Pepsi, marry Monster

By Ben Bouckley+

01-Apr-2014
Last updated the 01-Apr-2014 at 15:16 GMT

Spilling soda volumes - Pepsi posted a 4.4% slump in CSD sales in 2013, according to Beverage Digest
Spilling soda volumes - Pepsi posted a 4.4% slump in CSD sales in 2013, according to Beverage Digest

PepsiCo was the biggest loser in US carbonated soft drinks in 2013, according to Beverage Digest, with worrying volume and market share loss data contrasting sharply with Monster’s stellar sales.

All three big CSD companies – Coke, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) – lost volume in 2013, but Coke and DPS suffered declines below the industry average and each gained share.

Diet soft drinks are struggling, and while overall CSD case sales of around 8.9bn 192oz cases in 2013 might suggest all is rosy, given the sheer scale of the category, this scale cannot mask a malaise whereby volumes have fallen by 1.2bn cases since 2003 (10.1bn cases).

Of the big three, PepsiCo alone lost CSD share (0.4%) to 27.7% while volumes fell 4.4%; energy drinks companies Monster and Red Bull growing above the industry average and gaining share.

Cott Corporation in the doldrums

Red Bull grew volumes 6.4% and increased its market share by 0.2% to 1.3%, while Monster was the star CSD turn with 7.7% volume growth driving a 0.2% market share improvement to 1.6%.

Cott Corporation was the heaviest Top 10 company loser in CSDs, with a 9% volume slump contributing to a 0.2% market share loss. Cott now holds a 4.5% share of CSD total sales although PepsiCo’s higher volumes mean they lost 0.4% in market share terms.

Turning to the brands themselves, Coke Zero edged out Diet Dr Pepper from the 2013 Top 10, with Beverage Digest blaming Dr Pepper TEN in part for its stablemate’s 6.3% volume decline.

While Coke Zero stole the No.10 slot from Diet Dr Pepper, Coke hogs the No.1 and No.2 slots with Coke and Diet Coke, followed by PepsiCo’s Pepsi and Mountain Dew brands at No.3 and No.4.

Elsewhere, Fanta volumes, which have grown over the past few years, fell by 4% and the No.9 brand’s CSD share remained flat at 2%.

Diet soda scapegrace, energy drinks darling

Coke, Moutain Dew, Dr Pepper, Sprite and Coke Zero all gained share, although tellingly, Sprite was the only Top 10 brand to gain volume, and even then only 0.1%.

The fact that a slight gain should be seen as cause for celebration shows the sticky situation for CSDs in the US, as shown by Beverage Digest’s 2013 statistics cited above.

While diet sodas are the scapegrace (with some pointing to consumer concerns over artificial sweeteners such as aspartame) the statistics show that non-diet CSDs also declined, with energy drinks the only bright spot – without Red Bull and Monster CSDs would have fallen 3.3% not 3%.

The gloomy volume story feeds into a related pricing narrative, with total CSD dollars across all channels down around 1% in 2013 to circa. $76.3bn, as against circa. $77.1bn in 2012.

“Last year was the first in which the overall retail value of the CSD category declined since Beverage Digest began tracking,” Beverage Digest said. You can consult the publication's statistics here .