Top Dog vs. Under Dog

Epic Battles of Everything #5: Coca Cola vs. Pepsi a.k.a. "THE ...

What is the brand strategy being used by the top dog? What is the brand strategy being used by the underdog?

The brand rivalry I chose is Coca-Cola vs Pepsi. The top dog being Coca-Cola and the underdog being Pepsi.  It is apparent that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are successful companies. While they both have seen great success, they differ in their brand strategy efforts. Coca-Cola uses a proactive strategy. As the pioneers of the cola industry, Coca-Cola is the first brand enter the market, so it enjoys a long-term preference advantage over mimic brands. One of the important influencing factors in Coca-Cola sale is that Coca-Cola has a high power in the channel. Because Coca-Cola has is available globally, it is one of the most recognizable brands worldwide. Moreover, compatibility with consumers’ beliefs and lifestyles is another important factor of brand strategy. For example, Coca-Cola portrays a fun, happy and positive message through its advertisements. Because it’s secret formula, it has a great taste which gives consumers pleasure of refreshment, so consumers perceive Coca-Cola as a part of their lifestyle. Another brand strategy is using effective advertising, for example, Coca-Cola knows that majority of its purchases are made by female household leaders, so their advertisements focus on the functionality of their products as “daily life products” that suitable for the entire family.

 On the other hand, Pepsi pursues a reactive strategy, Pepsi has been successful in targeting a young audience. Pepsi is considered the drink for the new generation.  Therefore, their advertisements incorporate a combination of fun, sports and music. In addition, Pepsi’ s advertisements feature collaborations with popular musical celebrities. Another difference of brand positioning from Coca-Cola is that according to young consumers Pepsi taste sweeter than Coca-Cola.

How can the underdog improve its strategy so that it can gain more market share and surpass the top dog? Provide three recommendations.

In order to gain more market share and surpass the top dog, underdogs need to disrupt status quo and decrease ambiguity. For example, for Pepsi, marketers can encourage consumers to participate in blind taste tests. Another way to prevent consumers’ confirmation bias is to give free samples and give consumer the opportunity to compare tastes, prices and services. In addition, underdogs should have side-by-side shelf placements with market leaders in grocery stores. Moreover, underdogs can encourage consumers to challenge their current beliefs. For example, Pepsi might challenge a mothers habitual Coca-Cola purchase by saying that her kids might prefer Pepsi over Coca-Cola as it is considered the drink of the new generation. Last but not the least, unusual distribution channels and unusually educational approaches can also benefit underdog. For example, Pepsi could collaborate with local famous fast food chain by providing beverage exclusively.

Why do you believe consumers prefer the top dog over the underdog? Which do you prefer, and why?

Consumers prefer the top dog over the underdogs because top dogs are novel and interesting, consumers often are motivated to learn a lot about the features and benefits of the top dogs. Consumers tend to form more favorable and more confidently- held judgments about brands they know a lot about. As a result, they are more likely to form stronger preferences for top dogs. In addition, when consumers make a purchase decision, they often retrieve brand names from memory. Top dogs tend to be more memorable, therefore consumers are more likely to choose their products. I tend to pick more underdog products. I have a great curiosity for discovering new products. I find that a lot of the top dog products are generic and not specialized. I also feel more research and development go into underdog products. I have a sensitivity to a lot of ingredients also, so underdog products tend to be more suitable for me.


Cuofano, G., & Gennaro. (2019, August 25). Coca-Cola Vs. Pepsi: Who Has The Best Business Model? Retrieved April 01, 2020, from

Sievers, C. (2020, February 24). Pepsi or Coke? An In-Depth Look at Decades of Marketing Rivalry. Retrieved April 01, 2020, from

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