Pepsi vs Coke: Which is Better?

If you enjoy soda, you’ve probably encountered the age-old argument between Pepsi and Coke. Both companies have been operational for more than a century and are well-known. Despite their apparent similarity, the two are very different from one another. To better comprehend how Pepsi and Coke differ from one another, we’ll examine their respective histories, brand identities, market shares, product variations, and advertising techniques in this article.

Closeup shot of a coca-cola in can

Long and illustrious is the history of Pepsi and Coke. Following their creation in the late 1800s, both brands have faced off against one another.

They have created distinctive brand identities and advertising campaigns over time to appeal to various populations.

While Pepsi has a reputation for being a more youthful and entertaining brand with celebrity endorsements and catchy jingles, Coke is known for its famous polar bear advertisements and classic red and white logo.

Understanding the variations in brand identities might help you comprehend why certain individuals like one over the other.

Pepsi’s Origin

A pharmacist by the name of Caleb Bradham invented Pepsi in 1893.

Stylish woman holding can of pepsi

It was originally known as “Brad’s Drink,” and it had sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other natural flavorings.

Bradham started selling the beverage at his drugstore in New Bern, North Carolina, on the grounds that he thought it would improve digestion and give him more energy.

The beverage was so well-liked that Bradham changed its name to “Pepsi-Cola” in 1898.

The name was created by combining “pepsin,” an enzyme that aids in digestion, and “cola,” a nod to the usage of kola nuts in the beverage.

Incorporated in 1902, Pepsi-Cola had grown to 24 states by 1910.

Coke’s Origin

On the other hand, a pharmacist by the name of John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886.

Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants

It was initially marketed as a drug and distributed at soda machines in Atlanta, Georgia.

The beverage, which was produced from kola nuts and coca leaves, was thought to have therapeutic effects.

Asa Candler bought the rights to the Coca-Cola formula in 1892 and started actively promoting the beverage.

He unveiled the enduring Coca-Cola logo, and the corporation started selling the beverage in bottles. Coca-Cola was offered in every US state by the early 1900s.

Even though they had different beginnings, Pepsi and Coke both rose to fame in the early 20th century.

Both of these were promoted as revitalizing beverages that could both slake your thirst and give you more energy.

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In the 1970s and 1980s, when both businesses started to aggressively market their goods and fight for market share, tensions between the two businesses grew.

Brand Identity

Both Pepsi and Coke have established themselves as legendary brands with distinctive identities when it comes to brand identification.

Pepsi can and glasses with straws on a wood background.


The core of Pepsi’s brand identity revolves around being a young, vibrant, and fashionable brand.

The brand’s logo, with its striking blue and red hues and modern design, has come to represent Pepsi’s essence.

With slogans like “The Choice of a New Generation” and “Pepsi Generation,” the brand has also concentrated on appealing to the younger generation.

The advertisements for Pepsi frequently include well-known people, like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Beyoncé.

The brand’s reputation as a hip and trendy option for the younger generation has been strengthened as a result.


On the other side, Coca-Cola’s brand identity is focused on being a traditional, timeless brand that inspires joy and nostalgia.

The company’s enduring red and white emblem as well as its distinctive bottle design have gained worldwide recognition.

The brand has also been known for its warm holiday campaigns, like the iconic “Holidays are Coming” ad with the Coca-Cola truck.

Coke’s marketing campaigns have also been focused on evoking feelings of happiness and togetherness, with slogans like “Taste the Feeling” and “Open Happiness.”

Overall, Pepsi and Coke have both developed distinctive brand identities that resonate with various populations.

Pepsi seeks a younger, trendier demographic, whereas Coke focuses on being a traditional and timeless option.

Market Share

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are two of the market’s top companies when it comes to the beverage sector.

Cold glass of Coke bottle

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo jointly control 70% of the world’s beverage market, according to Investopedia.

The two biggest soft drink producers in the US are Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

Statista estimates that in 2021, Coca-Cola held a market share of about 46% for carbonated soft drinks while PepsiCo held a share of about 28%.

On the other hand, PepsiCo outsells Coca-Cola in the market for non-carbonated beverages.

According to Market Trading Essentials, PepsiCo had a market share of around 25% of the non-carbonated beverage market in 2021 while Coca-Cola had a market share of about 18%.

Market share can change from year to year and is influenced by a number of variables, including consumer preferences, marketing tactics, and product innovation.

Product Variations

Coca-Cola and Pepsi both have a wide range of products available. There are numerous flavor and packaging variants available for both companies.

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Can of Pepsi on grey table

Some of the most well-liked versions are listed below:

Coca-Cola Flavors

  • Classic Coca-Cola
  • Diet Coke
  • Coca-Cola Zero Sugar
  • Coca-Cola Cherry
  • Coca-Cola Vanilla
  • Coca-Cola Caffeine-Free
  • Coca-Cola Life

Pepsi Flavors

  • Pepsi
  • Diet Pepsi
  • Pepsi Zero Sugar
  • Pepsi Wild Cherry
  • Pepsi Vanilla
  • Pepsi Lime
  • Pepsi Mango

Both manufacturers occasionally offer limited edition varieties in addition to the aforementioned tastes.

These flavors are typically only available for a brief time and are frequently associated with a particular occasion or festival.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi both provide a selection of packaging choices. You may get Coca-Cola and Pepsi products in nearly any shape you want, from cans to bottles to fountain drinks.

Glass bottles, which are well-liked by collectors, are also available from Coca-Cola.

Overall, a variety of product options are provided by Pepsi and Coca-Cola to suit a variety of tastes and preferences.

There is a flavor and packaging option for everyone, regardless of whether you favor Diet Pepsi or the original Coca-Cola.

Advertising Strategies

Both Pepsi and Coke have a long history of developing memorable and successful advertising campaigns.

Group of young people drinking coke at a party

They have used the following principal tactics over the years:

Emotional Appeal

Both brands frequently employ the strategy of forging an emotional bond with their customers.

For instance, Coke has consistently emphasized happiness and community in their advertisements.

You’ve certainly seen their well-known “Share a Coke” ad, which prompted consumers to purchase personalized Coke bottles to present to friends and family.

Because it tapped into people’s desire to connect with others and share pleasant experiences, this campaign was highly successful.

Pepsi has utilized emotional appeal in their advertisements in a similar way.

In the 1960s and 1970s, its “Pepsi Generation” marketing centered on luring in young, hip consumers who yearned to fit in with an exciting, cool crowd.

In more recent campaigns, such as the “Live for Now” one that depicted Kendall Jenner presenting a can of Pepsi to a police officer during a demonstration, they have emphasized themes of empowerment and social justice.


The use of humor in soft drink advertising is another popular strategy.

Both Coke and Pepsi have produced advertisements that are designed to be humorous and entertaining in order to grab viewers’ attention and increase brand recall.

A prime example of this is Coke’s “Happiness Factory” marketing campaign.

In the advertisements, little animals produced Coke bottles in a fanciful universe inside a Coke vending machine.

The colorful and humorous advertisements boosted Coke’s reputation as a lively, enjoyable brand.

Glass of Coca-Cola with ice, can and bottle

Pepsi has also included humor into their advertising, as shown in the “Uncle Drew” campaign, which featured NBA player Kyrie Irving playing basketball while disguised as an elderly man.

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The advertisements raised awareness for the brand since they were humorous and unexpected.

Celebrity Endorsements

Finally, in their advertising, Coke and Pepsi have both leveraged celebrity endorsements.

This strategy can be particularly successful since it enables brands to capitalize on the fame and influence of well-known individuals.

From Michael Jackson to Selena Gomez, Coke has a long history of including celebrities in their advertisements.

The “Mean Joe Greene” advertisement from 1979, in which the well-known football star drank Coke and threw his jersey to a young admirer, is one of their most well-known commercials.

The endearing and endearing advertisement strengthened Coke’s reputation as a company that unites people.

As in their most recent campaign with Cardi B, Pepsi has also used celebrity endorsements in their advertising to appeal to young, diverse consumers who are fans of the rapper.

This has helped to establish Pepsi as a brand that is up to date with current trends and cultural movements.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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