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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an interesting piece the other day about the differing strategies being employed by the Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo in the ongoing soft drink wars.

Pepsi, for its part, is big on short-lived products that can create an immediate buzz and then be pulled off the market in favor of yet another product that it is hoped will have the same impact. Take, for example, Pepsi’s recent introduction of grape-flavored Mountain Dew Pitch Black, themed to take advantage of pre-Halloween interest. But now that Halloween has passed, Pepsi has pulled it off the market…and replaced it with Pepsi Holiday Spice, a cola with a tinge of spice flavor.

It doesn’t always work, of course – witness Pepsi Blue. (Which you can’t, because it’s gone.)

Coke, on the other hand, is trying to take a longer-range view of product development…though this can result in a “too many eggs in one basket” problem. That’s what Coke found itself dealing with in the case of C2, its new mid-calorie soft drink, which hasn’t been as successful as hoped. Now, Coke is in the position of retooling its marketing approach to C2, lowering prices and coming up with new packaging to boost sales.

The problem, as the Journal-Constitution reports, is that Coke has to do a bit of damage control because it has more invested in C2 than Pepsi has in its mid-calorie soda, PepsiEdge. Pepsi simply had other drinks on which it could concentrate, which takes pressure off the company.
KC's View:
This sort of reminds us of what a University of California at Berkeley professor says is the difference between two kinds of retailing – a chess-style approach, which plans several moves ahead and in which all moves are linked, and a poker-style approach, it which you make a series of bets and collect on the ones that pay off and get over the ones that don’t.

The argument, and it seems legitimate, is that in 2004 and beyond, you have to abandon old-world marketing strategies and take a fresh approach.

Here’s the thing, though. As much as you can expect packaged goods companies to change their marketing stripes, retailers have to do the same thing. The same-old, same-old approach simply has to evolve in new directions.