In fact, the soft drink giant rose 19% in value to $36.2bn, according to rankings from Brand Finance. While Pepsi maintains second place, the gap between the two has widened with the latter’s brand value decreasing by 8% to $18.5bn.
But PepsiCo has a stronger overall portfolio, coming behind Nestle as the second most valuable food and drink portfolio, having grown 7% to $58.9bn. A lot of growth comes from its food brands, such as porridge brand Quaker, which grew 57% in brand value, while its SodaStream acquisition has widened PepsiCo’s reach into consumer’s homes.
The Coca-Cola Company, meanwhile, takes third place, but a 19% leap in its portfolio to $53.6bn means it is closing the gap behind PepsiCo. Its acquisition of Costa Coffee and Australian kombucha maker Organic & Raw Trading Co show a similar diversification of its portfolio beyond soda.
The most popular soda in the world
With 1.9 billion servings across 200 countries every day, Coca-Cola is the most consumed soda in the world. While the brand is anchored by a huge volume of sales and a 127-year history, it has had to deal with challenges of the modern market place.
“As with all soda brands across the sector, Coca-Cola has had to contend with the perpetual decline in sales, which have fallen every year in the US since 2004, as well as the issues arising from the increase in health conscious consumers and governments imposing taxes on sugar-laden products," says Brand Finance in its Food & Drink 2019 report.
In 2018, Coca-Cola relaunched its Diet Coke brand in North America, with new sleek cans, contemporary packaging and flavour innovations. Three months later, it was reporting a return to volume growth for Diet Coke, and the revamp has been extended to other markets such as the UK.
“Coca-Cola's recent success can largely be attributed to the uplift in sales of Diet Coke, following a slump lasting several years, as a result of successful marketing and rebranding campaigns,” says Brand Finance.
Coca-Cola also offers other low or no sugar varieties such as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Coca-Cola Life and Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar (drinks vary according to market).
The top soft drinks brands
Red Bull takes third place in Brand Finance’s rankings, up 13.9% with a brand value of $8.7bn. Nestle’s Nescafe follows, growing 11.8% to $5.9bn.
In addition to their flagship Coca-Cola and Pepsi brands, The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have a further presence in the rankings with Sprite (TCCC, brand value $5.4bn), Gatorade (PepsiCo, brand value $4.1bn), and Fanta (TCCC, $3.5bn).
Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market. Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors.
Aside from calculating overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity and business performance.
According to these criteria, Coca-Cola is also the world’s strongest brand across the food and non-achohlic drink sectors with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.94 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA+ brand strength rating.
But the market is challenging for soft drinks, warns David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance. “The soft drinks sector is facing scrutiny like never before in the Western world. From high sugar content causing a stir, to the backlash over single-use plastic, brands are having to think fast to meet changing needs and circumstances.
“Although Coca-Cola always has its sheer volume of sales to rely on, the brand needs to evolve with society if it wants to maintain it dominance in the sector.”