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Wars have been occurring since the beginning of time. Wars between companies in the same industry also have a long history. One of the longest of these is the cola war, the battle between the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta and the Pepsi-Cola Company of New York. The marketing departments of these two companies have been dueling for decades in an attempt to become the number one soft drink in the minds of consumers. To protect their product's share, each company has introduced new products. The biggest of these have been the diet colas introduced by both Coke and Pepsi. As of 1991, Coca-Cola holds the number one position in the cola wars with a market share of 19.7 percent, followed by Pepsi with 17.8 percent, then Diet Coke with 8.7 percent and Diet Pepsi with 5.7 percent, (Beverage Industry Manual 90/91, p. 14).

Study of past wars is useful for determining how to go about preparing strategies for new battles. However, most marketers are so concerned with keeping their products up to date that they fail to review past history. Even when done, marketing histories tend to focus on what happened instead of why. Examining the past marketing history of the cola wars can provide an insight into key competitive moves and mistakes.

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©1997 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa



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