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Food Brand Wars: a marketing and branding case study

We have some iconic food brand rivalry stories with their creative marketing and promotional strategies. The wars were evident, and each food brand kept evolving as we grew up. Who would have thought there is a cold war between the products we absolutely love and are also playing with our minds and choices simultaneously?

Marketing has been a challenge in the food industry. Every food brand fights for its product’s market dominance. While every product has brand equity, the company focuses on making them memorable and recognized in the minds of the consumers. We have some iconic food brand rivalry stories with their creative marketing and promotional strategies. The wars were evident, and each food brand kept evolving as we grew up. Who would have thought there is a cold war between the products we absolutely love and are also playing with our minds and choices simultaneously? I am intrigued by some of these stories and decided to write about them.

Coca- Cola Vs Pepsi

We all know there were two kinds of people starting from the 80s: Coke drinkers and Pepsi drinkers. In 1886, John S. Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist developed the Coca- Cola recipe. In 1902 Caleb Bradham, a North Carolina, pharmacist founded the Pepsi-Cola Company with his original recipe.

Although their chemical compositions and flavors are similar, Pepsi is sweeter than Coke. And this was proved by Pepsi with its marketing campaign “The Pepsi Challenge” in 1975. This marketing gimmick was set up to do a blind taste test between participants to determine if Pepsi was better than Coke. As per the research people preferred Pepsi in a single sip test because of its sweet test. In response to this campaign in 1983, Coke decided to mimic this challenge and tweaked its formula making it sweet in taste creating the “New Coke”. However, the company lost the sales and market share to Pepsi at the time. In the 1990s, Coca-Cola re-branded New Coke as “Coke II,” but then discontinued the drink in 2002. In 2019, Coca-Cola did bring back New Coke and featured it in Stranger Things Season 3, putting 500,000 cans on sale across the US.

Over the next several decades, Coke emerged as the more popular soda and continued to top Pepsi’s yearly sales going forward. Although Pepsi may have gone through its ups and downs with the beverage brand, its savory snack market is very successful. Today the major soda brand remains Coca-Cola followed by Diet Coke and Pepsi competing for second place. Both brands have also changed their logos throughout their histories, but their colors are the same. As per the psychology of color marketing, color blue slows human metabolism, causing a calming effect while the color red increases appetite.

All said and done, the two beverage giants have competed, failed, succeeded, and advanced over the years. What are you, A coke drinker or a Pepsi drinker?

Dunkin Donuts Vs Starbucks

Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are the two largest coffee chains in the US. Boston-based Dunkin’ Donuts created a delightful range of donuts 20 years before Starbucks was even born. But now this Seattle- based company (Starbucks) has a coffee house at every corner in the world. When the first Starbucks opened in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971, it only sold beans.

Starbucks has built a more premium food brand over the years than Dunkin’ Donuts. It offers a more extensive menu and product personalization, writing each customer’s name (usually misspelling) on their cup. While there have been speculations that the baristas misspell the names on purpose, Starbucks has denied the accusation saying they had no such intentions. Starbucks generates over $26 billion a year in revenue, while Dunkin’ Brands’ annual revenues are under $1.5 billion. Well, whatever it is, it has worked for them so far, at least the numbers say it all. We must agree it does offer a quiet and comfortable space with free Wi-Fi to study, work, or kill time.

While Dunkin’ Donuts launched in 2012 and expanded to 77 stores across India, it failed to understand the Indian breakfast routine. We Indians are skeptical about our food in general and we do not like anybody messing up with our staples. Kellogg’s had to face a similar challenge with their breakfast cereal when they started out in India. So, they focused on the kid’s breakfast cereal menu. It worked because the target audience was easy to please with great health effects and nutritional value, every mother would want that for her child. But living in Europe myself for a couple of years and being a tea lover first, I did get a fresh cup of coffee at Starbucks every morning before class. A company should know whom to, when, and how to target its audience. Yet, in 2018, Jubilant Food Works brought down the number of Dunkin Donuts stores to 37.

Cadbury Vs Nestle

It is quite the irony that two confectionery companies are bitter rivals. Cadbury (Mondelez) is one of the most iconic confectionery brands in the world. Nestle’s confectionery segment was its sixth-largest in 2019. While both the companies have a wide range of products, their cold war is beyond aggressive marketing campaigns.

One of the iconic wars was between Cadbury’s Perk and Nestle’s Munch. While Cadbury’s Perk and Nestle’s KitKat were still on a stagnant cold war, Nestle launched Munch in the wafer chocolate category in India. The idea behind Cadbury’s “enhanced Perk” was to emphasize on the unmindful chocolate-eating amongst the youth. In response to Perk’s ad, in 2000 Nestle launched the “Munch ka punch” ad tweaking the storyline to mock Cadburys Perk. In the year 2014, Perk took a dig at Munch calling it a paperweight. It became a trending topic on social media where Munch gained more awareness.

This is the famous ad that got viral during the golden days of Perk and Munch.

What is in the color?

In 1995, Cadbury had registered the trademark on the purple shade on the chocolate bars. In 2004 Cadbury filed the application to revise the trademark on the purple color (Pantone 2685C) to the UK IPO, for use on the packaging of its milk chocolate products. Nestlé opposed the trademark registration on the grounds that color cannot be protected under the Trade Marks Act, 1994. But, in 2013 UK High court rejected the 1995 trademark protection after Nestle raised objections.

What is in the shape?

In 1935, Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp launched KitKats. Nestle took ownership of the food brand when it bought Rowntree’s in 1988. Nestle wanted to trademark the four-finger chocolate snack to prevent competitors to create their own versions. Nestlé lost the case which would have protected the KitKat shape across the European Union. This was sweet revenge for Cadbury. Mondelez got lucky and have protected the Toblerone bar’s distinctive triangle shape.

Are you nestled into Dairy Milk yet?

Read: Nestle-KitKat Case Study

Also: Cadbury-Chocolate Case Study

Read more: Case Studies-Fortifygen

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