Dr Pepper has surpassed Pepsi to become the second most popular soda brand in the United States, according to market share data from Beverage Digest. Dr Pepper has surged ahead with a combination of marketing strategies, new flavors and social media popularity.

Dr Pepper Overtakes Pepsi to Become America's Second Largest Soda Brand

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Coca-Cola remains the leader in the US soda market, holding a 19.2% share by volume as of last year. Both Dr Pepper and Pepsi captured 8.3% of the market with Dr Pepper inching ahead to secure the second spot.

Following these brands are other beverages from Coca-Cola’s portfolio with Sprite capturing 8.1% of the market and Diet Coke at 7.8%.

“Dr Pepper has been gaining, [Pepsi] has been declining, and they’re meeting in the middle,” Stanford said in an interview with CNN.

Founded in 1885 in Waco, Texas, Dr Pepper has a long history predating both Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Initially a regional favorite in the American South, Dr Pepper began marketing itself to a national audience in the 1970s, promoting its unique blend of 23 flavors.

The company’s growth has been fueled by its innovative approach to flavors and marketing. Last year, the brand introduced Dr Pepper Strawberries & Cream, which was described as “a standout success” by Timothy Cofer, CEO of Keurig Dr Pepper, during an analyst call in April.

The company’s has experimented with limited-time flavors like Dr Pepper Creamy Coconut inspired by TikTok’s “dirty soda” trend which involves mixing soda with milk or cream and other flavors.

The brand’s identity as a spicy alternative to cola has resonated with consumers as “swicy” (sweet and spicy) items have gained popularity in the food and beverage market.

Even Coca-Cola has recognized this trend, introducing Coca-Cola Spiced as a rare permanent addition to its flavor lineup in February.

Pepsi has been focusing on its zero sugar lines at the expense of its classic Pepsi brand. According to Stanford, PepsiCo has been leading with its zero sugar products which align with broader consumer trends towards healthier beverage options.

PepsiCo has a diverse portfolio that includes food brands like Quaker and Frito-Lay. This food business might have diverted attention away from its classic soda offerings.

The company’s success is also attributed to its strong presence in soda fountains and its viral social media marketing.

The beverage is available in both Pepsi and Coke soda fountains enhancing its accessibility. Viral social media trends such as TikTok videos of people making “Dirty Dr Pepper” have boosted the brand’s visibility and popularity.

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Keurig Dr Pepper has seen positive financial results with its stock rising slightly following the announcement of Dr Pepper’s new ranking.

The company’s net sales for the first quarter of the year were $3.47 billion in both U.S. and international markets.

The company was invented in 1885 by Charles Alderton, a pharmacist in Waco, Texas. Coca-Cola followed a year later in 1886 and Pepsi was introduced in 1893.

The company has always been a unique player in the soda market with a distinct flavor profile described as a blend of 23 flavors including cherry and vanilla.

The Cola Wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi intensified in the 1960s with aggressive marketing campaigns.

Pepsi’s “Pepsi Generation” campaign in the 1960s targeted younger consumers positioning itself as a modern alternative to Coke.

The rivalry continued with advertisements including Pepsi’s famous commercials featuring Michael Jackson in 1984.

The company’s sales were less than half of Pepsi’s. Pepsi accounted for one in nine sodas sold in the US, while Dr Pepper was the sixth most popular soda.

The company has achieved a market share of 8.34%, slightly edging out Pepsi at 8.31%. Coca-Cola remains the dominant player with a market share of 19.18% more than double that of any other soda brand.

Pepsi’s popularity has been slipping among younger consumers who are shifting towards low-sugar versions and brands like Dr Pepper.

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The company has invested heavily in marketing including college football campaigns and other high-visibility advertisements.

Dr Pepper has introduced new flavors such as Dr Pepper Cherry Vanilla, Dr Pepper Strawberries and Cream and Dr Pepper Creamy Coconut. These new variations have resonated well with consumers looking for unique and exciting soda options.

The company has capitalized on social media trends on TikTok. Viral trends like the “Dirty Dr Pepper” (a mix of Dr Pepper with lime juice and coconut-flavored coffee creamer) and videos featuring Dr Pepper-filled Stanley cups have boosted the brand’s visibility.

Unlike Coca-Cola and Pepsi which often have exclusive contracts with restaurant chains, Dr Pepper is available through both Coke and Pepsi distribution networks. This availability has allowed Dr Pepper to reach a wider audience.

Dr Pepper’s strategy includes maintaining presence in various restaurant chains regardless of their affiliation with Coke or Pepsi.

For example, McDonald’s serves Coca-Cola products, while KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell serve Pepsi. Dr Pepper can be found in many of these establishments.

Younger consumers those in Gen Z have shown a growing preference for flavored sodas and unique beverage experiences. Dr Pepper’s flavors and marketing strategies have tapped into this trend.

As health consciousness rises, many consumers are shifting away from traditional sugary sodas to low-sugar or diet alternatives.

The rise of Dr Pepper introduces a new dynamic to the cola wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. With Dr Pepper now tied for the second spot.

Analysts predict that Dr Pepper’s market share may continue to grow if the brand maintains its innovative marketing and product development strategies.

The soda industry is valued at $97 billion in the US, will likely see more shifts as brands adapt to changing consumer preferences.

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