41% of people can identify Coke
In many taste tests, subjects prefer Pepsi over Coke. Some studies suggest that 90% of people in a double-blind test prefer Pepsi. It has been suggested that Pepsi is preferred because it is sweeter than Coke.
Another series of studies found that consumers found it difficult to differentiate these cola drinks in a blind taste test. This has been consistently replicated. One significant study found that:
- 41% of consumers successfully identified Coke
- 38% of consumers successfully identified Pepsi
Despite this, market share figures in the United States suggest a clear preference for Coke:
- Coke – 17% of beverage sales
- Pepsi – 8.9% of beverage sales
It is important to know the capacity of the target audience and the criteria they actually use to make decisions. For example, if they cannot distinguish the taste, it is important to identify and leverage what they can and will distinguish. It is also important to remember that, more often than not, consumers don’t buy a product – they buy a brand.
The point is that consumers don’t always buy what they like best. Very often, they don’t even know what they like best because they don’t know the difference. Very often, consumers lack the skills, or, in this case, the taste buds required to differentiate between products objectively. Instead, they buy on the basis of perception, and perception does not always relate to taste or other tangible characteristics of a product.
Time and again, research suggests that Coke buyers buy the brand and all it stands for, well ahead of taste, price, or packaging. They are buying into the Coke lifestyle or at least what they perceive to be the Coke lifestyle.
Some studies show a preference for Pepsi, and others show that the majority of people cannot distinguish the brand of cola they are drinking. However, Coke outsells Pepsi 2 to 1. This is a clear indication that consumers do not necessarily buy on the basis of taste or anything as rational as taste.
RECOMMENDATION – Understand the capabilities of your audience, the factors they can consider, and the factors they will use to make a purchase decision. Then, build a great brand around these factors.
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