When discussing Pepsi’s 125-year history, it is important to acknowledge its role as a significant competitor to Coca-Cola. In fact, some could argue that Pepsi’s success helped elevate the Coca-Cola brand to new heights. Why?
While Coca-Cola has been around slightly longer, with a 12-year difference, Pepsi was also established in 1898 by Caleb Bradham, a pharmacist who initially created it as a remedy for heartburn.
Coca-Cola was created in 1886 by John Pemberton, a pharmacist who promoted it for digestion.
Both brands were initially marketed as “syrups” but were later sold as soft drinks.
In an effort to gain attention, Pepsi adopted the slogan “delicious and healthy,” while Coca-Cola marketed itself as “delicious and refreshing.” One of the most well-known competitions between the two brands occurred in 1975 with the launch of the “Pepsi Challenge.”
Both brands have a common label: “black cola.”
Three times offered for sale to Coca-Cola
During its early years, Pepsi experienced steady growth. The company’s first success came from selling its product in recycled beer bottles at a lower price. In 1922, the owner attempted to sell the company to Coca-Cola due to market fluctuations, but the offer was declined. A year later, when Pepsi was on the brink of bankruptcy, Coca-Cola was offered the company a second time but again refused to purchase it.
Despite facing rejection twice from Coca-Cola, Pepsi managed to survive and persisted in its efforts to win over consumers. It took ten years for the third offer to come, and Coca-Cola declined it for the final time. Its determination to gain consumer preference was unexpected by many.
Back in 1950, the soda brand focused on enhancing its brand image by participating in a media-wide advertising competition while Coca-Cola was already running a successful TV campaign. Pepsi’s heavy investment in advertising made it the preferred beverage in the US, but Coca-Cola changed its strategy to win back its market share.
In 1975, there was a big advertising competition called the “Pepsi Challenge.” Consumers were blindfolded and asked to taste-test two different cola brands. While many people preferred the taste of Pepsi, more consumers ended up purchasing Coca-Cola.
Despite the hype around the “cola wars” between the two companies, this competition actually showed that the title was just a marketing tactic to capture consumers’ attention.
Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are strong players in the global carbonated beverage market. Coca-Cola has a market coverage of 99%, with only Cuba and North Korea not consuming it, while Pepsi reaches 76%.
Recently, to mark its 125th anniversary, Pepsi unveiled a new logo, which is the twelfth change in the history of its brand. On the other hand, Coca-Cola has not made any significant visual identity changes since it was designed by Frank Robinson in 1887.
Congratulations to Pepsi on its 125th-anniversary celebration!
PS. Dedicated to Mery del Socorro Gómez de Ricardo, who, at 85 years old, is still loyal to Pepsi.