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Mind Hack: Why do we prefer coke over pepsi?


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I think there are two reasons.  First, the brand for Coke is stronger -- Coke has associated its brand with basic happiness and satisfaction.  I don't think that Pepsi's branding is as strong.  Can you summarize Pepsi's brand in one word?


Another is something that Buffett mentioned some years ago that I thought was very interesting.  When you drink a Coke, ironically, your thirst isn't really satisfied.  Coke has no "taste memory" which means that an hour after drinking a coke, you can drink another one and it will taste just as good.  I think this is an intentional part of Coke's taste profile, which some say is less sweet, which I think is part of it.  This is also part of the key to the success of Diet Coke and the other low-calorie options, because you can drink many of these without ingesting a lot of calories.


Think about other soft drinks that you might have such as Gatorade or fruit juice.  It is hard to have a 12-20 ounce serving of that and then a half hour later have another.  But with Coke you can keep on chugging...

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I did a blind test many years ago, and knew which was which but had to admit to myself that I liked the Pepsi taste better, even though I was (and remain) a Coke guy.  What I didn't know then but was told later was that these blind tastes are done with 'warm' beverages. Since the two have differing levels of sweetness, it impacts the average answer - and most people (at least in North America) like their drinks to be ice-cold.


Finally - and I don't know if it was a fluke - the testers did not update their results after we came.  Say it advertised "43 prefer Pepsi, 28 prefer Coke".  My friend liked Coke better, I liked Pepsi.  The score-sheet should have said "44 prefer Pepsi, 29 prefer Coke", which would have the result of slightly decreasing the comparative advantage (%) liking Pepsi over Coke; yet they did not update this and kept their 43 & 28 numbers.  I have always wondered how truthful their ad was as a result.


Again - I like Pepsi better, but will always chose Coke if given the choice.  Well actually, I like Dr. Pepper best and both companies sell that product through their bottling operations :)

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I can attest to this.  All my life I was an ardent Coke drinker.  About 10 years ago at a music festival I saw the Pepsi Challange booth and said to my friends, "I can definitely tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi and Coke is much better!"


I tasted both sodas, exclaimed which one was better, and too my shock found that i had picked Pepsi.  Oops!


But for whatever reason, I still am a "Coke drinker."

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  • 7 months later...

The Pepsi Challenge taste tests back in the 80's led Goizueta to do a foolish thing: replace sucrose in Cokes with cheaper, sweeter tasting high fructose corn syrup.  People will generally prefer the sweeter tasting sip of  comparable products in a brief taste test.  But that doesn't mean that that will be their preference in the long run.  


The higher amount of sweetness, calorie for calorie in high fructose corn syrup, compared to sucrose, means that the pancreas will secrete more insulin in response to high fructose corn syrup than to sucrose.  The delayed reaction from the excessive insulin secreted in response to the more numerous molecules in fractionated high fructose corn syrup than to an equivalent mass of sucrose, eventually drives the blood sugar down to a lower level than after consumption of sucrose, causing people to be grumpy or hungry.  The reason this happens is that the smaller, more numerous molecules, gram to gram, in the high fructose product than in cane sugar attach to more sweetness receptors and stimulate the secretion of a greater amount of insulin.  Therefore, the perking up effect from the lift to blood sugar will be less, briefer and ultimately less satisfying after consuming an equivalent amount of high fructose corn syrup than sucrose.  


The high fructose product is less satisfying in the long run.  Were it not so, people would sweeten coffee not with cane sugar, but with fructose products; relatively poor mexicans would not pay much more for Cokes imported into the US from Mexican bottlers, made with sucrose, compared to Cokes bottled in the USA, made with high fructose corn syrup.  And both Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola would not have seen their US soft drink profits decline dramatically, compared to profits from other areas.   :P

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I remember doing the Pepsi challenge and choosing Coke.  After the fact I swore I thought I could taste the difference.  It wasn't until a friend of mine told me how she knew, most people when taking a gulp of Coke, get almost immediate gas (the need to burb obviously).  After she said that, I noticed when I drank Coke I had the same reaction.


I'm also trying to visualize the locations of Coke coolers in relation to Pepsi coolers.  My local Mac's convenience store has Coke closer to the front, Pepsi beside.

I wonder if Coke pays to have their coolers in prominent locations too?

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