Cola Collusion - Coke v. Pepsi

Every week, either Coke products or Pepsi products are “On Sale” for $5 to $5.50 per case at the local supermarkets (Indianapolis). All Coke one week, then all Pepsi the next week at all the stores. Regular price is $7 per case.

Why are they never both on sale at the same time at the same store, competing on price, dropping to $4 or less?

Have the cola companies agreed to take turns to keep prices higher and are the grocery chains involved?

Well, if they both were on sale the same week it would totally defeat the purpose of putting it on sale.

You put it on sale so that you get the people that just look for a deal and no real preference on brand and hope against hope that a few will then get a preference for your brand and no longer care about price.


They don’t take turns in keeping them lower. They take turns on which will be featured on any given week.

It usually comes down to which cola is interested in paying the grocery store the most to promote their product in any given week.

Then it becomes an issue between the cola’s on which week or two weeks or month makes the most sense. I.e., is it more worthwhile to promote during the heat and humidity of Labor Day? Well, yes. And the grocery store knows it, so, higher price to promote your product.

It’s a snaky, behind the scenes, game that is played out daily with pratically every item on the shelves.

A couple of things to note:

It’s not the Cola companies doing this. It’s the stores doing it. This way, they can get more people in. If every other week, they put both on sale, they’d be flooded one week and not the next.

Remember that these sales tend to be loss-leaders: the stor is actually losing money selling Coke or Pepsi for whatever they put it on sale for (here, it currently runs $2.66 a 12-pack (3 for $8) where I shop). They’re banking that they’ll make money from you shopping for other thigns while you’re there picking up your favorite soda.

Also, from what I’m told, this doesn’t happen in the Deep South. Down there, um, you don’t drink Pepsi. Especially in and around Atlanta. There’s no real competition, so neither ever goes on sale. Can anyone confirm whether this is still the case Down South?


Not in Raleigh, which is a Pepsi town for the most part.

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Pepsi is also a southern product… created in New Bern, North Carolina. And I’d say that Pepsi is King around there (friends always gave me strange looks when I had a coke).

Dr Pepper is ALSO southern. Texas, I believe. :smiley:

about RC Cola suing Coke and Pepsi in some market about these agreements with the stores, since RC was getting locked out. I don’t remember what came of it, but you rarely see RC around anymore.

I’ve got to think the cola companies are giving discounts to the grocers to run these “sales” since each week the same company’s drinks are in all the different stores.

From a loss leader perspective, you would think the supermarkets would want each brand at a lower cost to attract both the Pepsi people and the Coke crowd at the same time, but that isn’t how the drinks are sold.

Atlanta is definately a Coca Cola town. The Coca Cola Company is a huge corporate citizen here. That does not, by any stretch, mean that there is no cola competition. Pepsi would like nothing more than to gain market share in Coke’s back yard. By the same token, it would be a marketing coup for Coke to make significant headway in and around Purchase, New York, home of PepsiCo. Price competition is keen in Atlanta. Pepsi, in their desire to gain market share in Coke’s hometown, often undercuts their rival’s pricing. In general, Coke can be found for about $2.50 for a 12 pack at any given time. Pepsi can be had for a few cents less. Not that I would ever drink that nasty stuff. My taste buds are worth the extra change.

I was just wondering about this the other day. I just moved from the Philadelphia area to Saratoga Springs, NY. Where I used to shop always alternated weeks for which was on sale, but here, Coke is always cheaper (at least in the store I go to). I guess locale makes a difference.

> Can anyone confirm whether this is still the case Down South?

Does FL count as the South? Here we often have one brand or the other on sale at a given store. The regular prices are the same for each brand. Many of us have no preference for one or the other, so we’ll buy whatever’s cheaper.