Diet soft drink brands fall flat as regular sodas gain conversational fizz, report reveals

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Social engagement is strong for regular soda such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Pepsi.
Social engagement is strong for regular soda such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Pepsi.

Related tags: Soft drink

The passion people used to have for diet soda seems to have gone flat, but consumers are bubbling with interest in regular soft drink brands; according to a new analysis of consumer conversations by Engagement Labs. 

The company’s TotalSocial tool, which is used to examine the combined online and offline consumer conversations about brands and categories, finds that the talk of many of the most prominent diet soft drink brands is lagging – either on social media, or in real life. At the same time, regular soft drink brands are a loud topic of consumer conversation.

Diet soda brands underperform

Diet Pepsi, Coca-Cola Zero, and Diet Dr. Pepper are some of the TotalSocial underperformers. Their lack of conversational fizz is juxtaposed against the strong TotalSocial scores of their regular variety soft drink counterparts Coca-Cola, Sprite and Pepsi. In fact, all of the soft drink brands that have above-average TotalSocial scores in the category are the regular versions.

“Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial scores quantify the impact of these trends on consumer conversations which is clearly reflected by the fact that diet soda brands have a lot in their glass right now—including: health concerns about sugar and artificial sweeteners and balancing consumer interest in natural ingredients with backlash to formulation changes,”​ Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs, said.

“The question beverage companies need to ask is: how can they bring the positivity enjoyed by regular soft drink brands to their diet counterparts?”


Paying attention off online and offline chatter

“From a diagnostics point of view, each soft drink brand we examined has individual strengths and faces some unique challenges. But, one thing they have in common is an opportunity to market with an eye toward curating content and experiences that lead to more shares and positive consumer conversations,”​ Keller said.

Keller also recommends that beverage companies pay attention to both online and offline dialogues in order to positively impact consumer conversations about their brand. Engagement Labs realized the importance of in-person dialogue and conducted several person-to-person conversation studies.

“We find that roughly one-third of the total conversation volume that takes place about a given brand actually happens as a result of in-person conversations. And more importantly, what is being said on social media channels isn’t indicative of offline consumer chatter.” 

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