Top Coca-Cola Competitors in 2019

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Coca-Cola needs no introduction. Of all of the soft drinks of the world, Coca-Cola has consistently been on top. Everything about this brand has gained global popularity and become iconic.  

Coca-Cola, also known as Coke, is manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. The production began 133 years ago in the United States. The formula was invented by John Stith Pemberton and was later purchased by Asa Griggs Candler who has a fundamental role in turning the company into the giant it is today. Back then, in 1948, Coca-Cola had about 60% of its market share. But by the end of 1984, the company’s market share dropped to 21.8% due to the arrival of Pepsi, one of the Coca Cola main competitors. 

The Coca-Cola Company has been particularly actively acquiring drink brands and other companies over the years. Starting from the year 1960, Coca-Cola acquired brands of soft drinks, colas, fruit juices and other beverages, such as Minute Maid, Thums Up, Barq’s, Odwalla, Fuze Beverage, Honest Tea, ZICO, Costa Coffee, Moxie and most recently Organic & Raw Trading Co. Pty Ltd producing MOJO. In the meantime, Coca-Cola also purchased the movie studio Columbia Pictures, which was then sold off to Sony.

1. Introduction 

After years of development and establishing its name, The Coca-Cola Company is one of the leading soft drink manufacturers right next to the giants like PepsiCo. The company sells a wide range of soft drinks, in numerous flavors and dietary versions, as well as energy drinks, bottled waters, and juices. With so much choice and variety, let’s see what Coca Cola competitors can offer that Coca-Cola can’t.

2. Top 11 Coca Cola Competitors

In this article, we will discuss Coca Cola competitors in depth. The Coca-Cola Company has a well-established position in the soft drink market, although the company still has to watch out for the new competition in the market and remain a safe distance from soft drinks that have been a threat for years.

2.1 Pepsi

Logo owner: Pepsi Co.

Our list of Coca Cola top competitors has to start with the top soft drink manufacturer, Pepsi. Pepsi is produced by PepsiCo, an American multinational corporation that also manufactures drinks of a few other Coca Cola competitors.

The Pepsi story began in 1893 when Caleb Bradham started to sell it in his drugstore as Brad’s Drink, the drink that would make digestion easier. Thirty years later, facing bankruptcy, the company was sold to Charles Guth. After the change of the company’s management, Pepsi’s profits have been only going up. Soon, the brand was renamed into Pepsi-Cola and in 1961, into Pepsi.

Pepsi has always been focused on intensive marketing campaigns. Also, the company’s logo has been upgraded many many times throughout the years. In earlier times, around the 1940s, manufacturers in the US were white-owned and completely ignored African Americans as potential customers. In those days, Pepsi, at that time known as Pepsi-Cola, was the first company ever to target this niche and its efforts were successful. The company formed all-black teams, launched ad campaigns that portrayed back Americans in a positive light. All in all, Pepsi was heavily involved in promoting anti-racism, which was not in favor back then. Nevertheless, black customers were not the only customers Pepsi wanted to attract; the company overlooked no group. Pepsi has also been featured in several films, including all-time classics like Back to the Future (1985), Home Alone (1990), Fight Club (1999), and World War Z (2013).

The Coca Cola and Pepsi competition has been known as the “Cola Wars.” Their rivalry began when Pepsi started blind taste tests in its stores, branded as “Pepsi Challenge.” These tests were hinting that more consumers preferred the taste of Pepsi to Coca-Cola. Despite the efforts, PepsiCo’s US market share is nearly one-third smaller than that of Coca-Cola’s. Also, Coca-Cola continues to outsell Pepsi in almost all areas of the world.

Revenue: $64.66B (2018, PepsiCo)

Number of employees: 267,000 (2018, PepsiCo)

Country of origin: United States

Year of foundation: 1893 (as Brad’s Drink)

CEO: Ramon Laguarta (PepsiCo)

Sector: Beverages 

2.2 Red Bull

Logo owner: Red Bull

Red Bull is one of the greatest of the Coca Cola competition. The brand pioneered targeting energy drinks to masses. What is relevant for our list of Coca Cola competitors, Red Bull is the only soft drink manufacturer among them that is not owned by Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

Red Bull belongs to the Austrian-based company Red Bull GmbH. The company was formed in 1987 in Thailand by its co-founders, Dietrich Mateschitz and Chaleo Yoovidhya. At the time of Red Bull GmbH founding, Yoovidhya already owned an energy drink named Krating Daeng that can be loosely translated as Red Bull. Both newly formed Red Bull and the Thai brand use the same logo though operating as separate drinks, the first one on the Western and the other on the Thai market. As of 2018, the company sells more cans than any other energy drink company in the world.

It is debatable which one is best known, the drink itself or the brand slogan. The company markets the drink using the ever-famous phrase “Red Bull gives you wings.” The brand continues to top the energy drink market through numerous sport event sponsorships and celebrity endorsement. Red Bull even owns several sports teams, like the Formula One team Red Bull Racing, to name the most notable one.

Revenue: $7.391B (2017)

Country of origin: Austria

Year of foundation: 1984

CEO: Dietrich Mateschitz 

Sector: Beverages

2.3 Diet Coke / Diet Pepsi

Logo owner: Diet Coke

The diet versions of cola by PepsiCo, and by its own manufacturer, The Coca-Cola Company, are at the same time the closest Coca Cola competitors. Following the health, the trend to avoid everything that includes added sugar, the sugar-free and no-calorie Pepsi and Coke have become preferred over the drinks based on the original formulas.

Sugar-free and calorie-free beverages target people who need to watch their sugar or calories intake. Such drinks cannot contain a gram of sugar. Instead, they are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame in most cases.

The idea of sugar-free cola was first introduced in 1963 when Coca-Cola launched a diet cola named Tab, which did not catch on. The Coca-Cola Company then introduced Diet Coke in 1982, while PepsiCo introduced diet Pepsi in 1964. Diet Pepsi had been long unbeatable; when Diet Coke came into play, Diet Pepsi has become the primary Coca Cola competition. Ever since their launches, these two drinks competed, both heavily advertising, changing formulas and redesigning their packages to enhance their appeal. Both Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke are sold as respectively Pepsi Light and Coke Lights in some countries.

2.4 Fanta

Logo owner: Fanta

Fanta is yet another brand from The Coca-Cola family that is one of the strongest competitors of Coca Cola. Fanta is one of the best-selling fruit-flavored carbonated drinks.

Interestingly, Fanta was created during WWI to substitute Coca-Cola when one of its main ingredients became unavailable as the result of the American trade embargo of Nazi Germany in 1940. Because of the shortage of sugar during the war, in the first years after Fanta was launched, the drink was mainly used as a sweetener added to soups and other dishes.

After the war, The Coca-Cola Company took over the Fanta drink, including its formula and the profits made during the war. Now, Fanta is the leading brand of fruit-flavored carbonated drinks and the top coca cola competition. In 1955, the first-ever orange Fanta was produced in Italy using locally sourced oranges. Today, there are nearly 100 flavors of Fanta across various countries.

In the fruit-flavored drinks market, Fanta competes with brands like PepsiCo’s Mirinda and Slice, Keurig Dr. Pepper’s Crush and Tango by British-based Britvic. Fanta ad campaigns are always upbeat and colorful, while the slogans often play on words, as in the jingle “Wanta Fanta!” from 2001.

Revenue: $31.85B (2018, The Coca-Cola Company)

Country of origin: Germany (beverage), Italy (orange version)

Year of foundation: 1940

Chairman and CEO: James Quincey (The Coca-Cola Company)

Sector: Beverages

2.5 Sprite

Logo owner: Sprite

Sprite is one of the strongest brands among the Coca-Cola competition in the market, despite coming from the same company. Sprite is also the main competitor of 7 up and Limca; the brand has managed to dominate the lime-flavored section of the soft drinks market.

Sprite, for one, is a colorless, caffeine-free soft drink. The most popular flavor is lemon and lime. The drink brand started out in 1959 in West Germany as a lemon variation of Fanta. Two years later, the new drink, branded as Sprite, was introduced in the United States where it turned out to be the main competitor to 7 Up. Unlike the other brands, Sprite has always been targeted to the younger demographics. In line with the Sprite’s target audience, the ads often feature big names from the rap music industry and the basketball world.

The sugar-free Sprite Zero was already introduced in 1974, but since 2012, the Sprite’s original formula is some countries have been changed several times in order to cut down on the sugar content. At first, the drink was sweetened with Stevia and artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame. Eventually, Sprite ended up containing only artificial sweeteners and zero sugar. This means that the Sprite we drink today is completely sugar-free.

Revenue: $31.85B (2018, The Coca-Cola Company)

Country of origin: Germany

Year of foundation: 1959

Chairman and CEO: James Quincey (The Coca-Cola Company)

Sector: Beverages

2.6 Gatorade

Logo owner: Gatorade

Gatorade in the first of Coca Cola competitors we present that is marketed to athletes and sports amateurs. Gatorade, actually The Gatorade Company, Inc. is an American manufacturer of sports drinks and foods. The Gatorade drinks are the company’s most signature products.

The drink was introduced in 1965 by a group of researchers led by Robert Cade from the University of Florida. Gatorade was made with the athletic team of The Florida Gators in mind. The founders hoped that the drink would replenish the calories and electrolytes lost during sports activities. Gatorade targets professional athletes as well as the customers who lead active and healthy lifestyles. A big advantage is that the drink label contains the whole table of nutritional facts, including the amounts of proteins, calories, and carbohydrates.

Stokely-Van Camp had been producing Gatorade until the year 1988 when the Quaker Oats Company purchased the brand. In 2000, the brand was sold off to PepsiCo. Now, Gatorade is PepsiCo’s 4th best-selling drink in the entire world. The brand is a leader in the global sports drink market, owning around 75% of market share, and leaving behind Coca-Cola’s Powerade and Vitaminwater. That is why Gatorade ranked 6th in our list of the top competitors of Coca Cola.

Revenue: $5B (2017)

Country of origin: United States

Year of foundation: 1965

Sector: Beverages

2.7 Dr. Pepper (Dr. Pepper Snapple)

Logo owner: Dr.Pepper

Dr. Pepper is one of just a few brands outside the PepsiCo or Coca-Cola company that can be called the competitors of Coca-Cola. The group is also a proud owner of the other popular soft drinks, like 7 up and RC Cola.

Dr. Pepper is an American brand that specializes in the production of carbonated soft drinks. The formula of Dr. Pepper’s flagship drink was invented in the 1880s by pharmacist Charles Alderton. The first drinks in the United States started to be sold in 1904. Currently, Dr. Pepper belongs to the Keurig Dr. Pepper brands of soft drinks, which are sold via its Dr. Pepper Snapple subsidiary. While Keurig Dr. Pepper is responsible for producing Dr. Pepper for the United States market only, The Coca-Cola Company manufactures the drink to Europe and South Korea, and PepsiCo focuses only on Canada and Oceania. In total, Keurig Dr. Pepper owns around 50 brands of carbonated soft drinks, juices, teas, waters, and other drinks.

As already mentioned, it boasts a lineup of sub-brands which makes it a significant Coca-Cola competition, especially in the US market. Dr. Pepper has also developed multiple flavor variations; some are available exclusively in the US; some are launched as limited edition flavors. The flavors continuously being sold are the national variations, like German or UK version of the drink, or sugar-free Dr. Pepper Zero.

Revenue: $4,269M (2017)

Number of employees: 21,000 (2017, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group)

Country of origin: United States

Year of foundation: 1885

CEO: Robert Gamgort

Sector: Beverages

2.8 Mountain Dew

Logo owner: Mtn Dew

Mountain Dew is another carbonated soft drink manufactured by PepsiCo. Although the drink seems to be far away from the coke level of popularity, it is still a serious threat, and that’s why we place it among the competitors of Coca Cola.

The original recipe originated in 1940 but was revisited a few times, with the final touches put by William H. “Bill” Jones of the Tip Corporation in 1961. In 1964 the brand and its formula were purchased by the Pepsi-Cola company.

The drink started out as a single citrus-flavored and caffeinated product. Later on, following the other soft drink producers, Mountain Dew has introduced its Diet version as well. Since the success of the original drink, only the cherry-flavored Code Red, which debuted in 2001, managed to get similar traction.

In the US carbonated drinks market, Mountain Dew is doing well, holding a 6.6% share. The company is unmatched in the citrus soft drinks sector in the US. Mountain Dew competes with Mello Yello and Surge from the Coca-Cola Company and Sun Drop from Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. What is more, Mountain Dew and the above mentioned 7 up are the main sprite competitors.

Revenue: $64.66B (2018, PepsiCo)

Number of employees: 267,000 (2018, PepsiCo)

Country of origin: United States

Year of foundation: 1893 (as Brad’s Drink)

CEO: Ramon Laguarta (PepsiCo)

Sector: Beverages 

2.9 Lipton

Logo owner: Lipton

The Lipton tea brand has to be included in this list as well, though it is no longer among direct Coca Cola competitors. It is particularly visible in countries where the consumption of tea is much higher, like in China, UK, and India. Another factor is that tea is, obviously, a much healthier choice than a soft drink like Coca-Cola.

Lipton is a British-based tea brand owned by Unilever. The company is named after its founder sir Thomas Lipton, who initially wanted to have a go at a grocery retail business. This resulted in the supermarket chain currently known as Presto, but later he switched his focus to the tea market. Sir Lipton got inspired while traveling the world. He thought that the prices were too high, though. That is why he purchased tea plantation in Ceylon to grow tea and oversee the production process himself.

Lipton teas really took off in the US. The company was gradually sold to Unilever; the final transaction took place in 1972. In 1991, Unilever and PepsiCo started a partnership for selling ready-to-drink beverages in North America. The newly created venture was named Pepsi Lipton Partnership, and it helped a lot with marketing bottled and canned teas. Over time, the new investment has expanded its reach to other markets, which was reflected in the new name – Pepsi Lipton International. Each company controls 50 percent of the shares of this joint venture.

The brand is globally recognized and praised for its variety of teas, green teas in particular. Lipton likes to experiment, and it regularly introduces many labels and sub-brands within the brand, like Lipton Yellow Label or Lipton Ice Tea. All of these healthier alternatives that Lipton offers and the right amount of marketing make it a strong competitor of Coca Cola.

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Year of foundation: 1890

Owner: Unilever and PepsiCo

Sector: Beverages

2.10 Nescafé

Logo owner: Nescafe

Some people simply prefer tea and coffee over soft drinks, and that’s all there is. That’s why regardless of what Coca Cola or PepsiCo are going to implement into their marketing strategies, they will have to face this simple truth. The coffee consumption is the highest in Europe, with record numbers in nordic countries and the Benelux region countries. This is why Nescafé and other coffee brands are also listed as Coca Cola competitors.

Moreover, Nestle bottled waters are the other Coca Cola company competitors. Bottled waters like Nestle Pure Life and Poland Spring are big in the market and fiercely compete with their equivalent from the Coca-Cola house, Dasani.

Nescafé is a brand of coffee produced by Nestlé. The brand was launched in 1938 in Switzerland, but the original idea dates back to 1930. Nestlé started working on its coffee brand to help utilize the surplus of Brazilian coffee harvest. The brand name is a blend of the words “Nestlé” and “café.”

Since its creation is 1938, Nescafé has been associated with soluble coffees. This includes freeze-dried coffees, like “Nescafé Gold” and “Nescafé Taster’s Choice.” In 2006, Nescafé started a new chapter by launching coffee machines and related products under the name “Dolce Gusto.” The machines allow preparing various styles of coffee, including hot chocolate and cold beverages. One thing to note here is that most Dolce Gusto uses roasted and ground coffee beans, not the instant coffee from Nescafé.

Revenue: 91.43B (2018, Nestle)

Country of origin: Switzerland

Year of foundation: 1938

CEO: Ulf Mark Schneider

Sector: Beverages

2.11 Tropicana

Logo owner: Tropicana

Tropicana is another fruit-based drink on the list. The beverage is both non-carbonated and caffeine-free, which makes it a healthier option and a includes in the list of coke competitors.

The drink is manufactured by Tropicana Products, Inc., an American international company. The company was created in 1947 by Anthony T. Rossi, an Italian immigrant. Later, Tropicana was sold to Beatrice Foods and The Seagram Company. In 1988, the drink was purchased by PepsiCo. The company is best known for producing orange juice. The oranges used in Tropicana juices are sourced from Florida, as it was initially, and Brazil.

In the fruit juices market, Tropicana competes with Minute Maid, Real Fruit Juices and Del Monte Foods. Tropicana also sells Fruit Snacks and makes smoothies in the UK.

Country of origin: US

Year of foundation: 1947

Owner: PepsiCo

Sector: Beverages

3. Summary

Which brand could become a real threat to Coca-Cola in the next years? Tell us what you think. Answer in the comments below! Visit Datantify to read more articles like this! Datanify provides a comprehensive database of international companies. Our databases are created through top-quality research, and we listen to individual needs. Start using our services and forget about doing your own research, save time and money! 

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