Tag Archives: Cola Wars

Brand Loyalty or Habitual Indecision?

I was waiting in line at the supermarket the other day. I was buying a jug of orange juice, the fresh squeezed kind. The guy in front of me was buying six or seven cans of concentrate. We noticed each other, and naturally got into a discussion about the differences between frozen orange juices and fresh squeezed. Because it was a Sunday afternoon when most people do their shopping, we had time to discuss the various differences.

The plusses to using concentrate is that it’s cheaper, you can buy several at once and store them in your freezer, so you don’t have to go to the store as often. Interestingly, the benefits of fresh squeezed, although seemingly numerous are almost impossible to pin down. The drawbacks are obvious. You have to go to the store more often, it’s more expensive, it doesn’t stay fresh as long (you can keep cans of concentrate in the freezer for up to a year) and it really doesn’t have any more vitamins that the frozen stuff.

I suppose when asked, most people who prefer fresh squeezed would say it tastes more “natural,” its healthier, its got some special magic from the sun inside each bottle. None of these are things that you can actually measure. So what exactly are you paying for? Of course the most obvious answer is that it tastes better. That is probably the best reason of all if you are buying food, that it tastes better, but is that how the marketing strategies of these orange juice companies make it out to be? Based only on flavor?

“Buy fresh squeezed, it tastes better.”

I never really thought about it. I remember when I was a kid, Pepsi had their famous “Take the Pepsi Challenge” campaign where they set up stands in front of supermarkets across the country, in an effort to “prove” using scientific studies that Pepsi does indeed “taste better” than coke. They had frequent updates in their commercials of how people overwhelmingly chose Pepsi over coke in a blind taste test. But for some reason, Coke remained, and still remains the soft drink leader. (The whole “New Coke” fiasco notwithstanding.)

I’m sure know somebody, or may be one of these soft drink zealots yourself, who will refuse to drink soda in a restaurant if they don’t have “your” brand. I have a friend who is adamantly against Pepsi. If we go out to lunch, and he orders a Coke, and is told they only have Pepsi, he’ll act as if he’s been personally insulted. It’s kind funny to watch. Personally, I can’t really tell the difference one-way or the other.

Brand loyalty is a strange phenomenon, one that I’ve never understood, although I am an avid driver of Toyota’s, and proud wearer of New Balance. Every car I’ve ever bought is a Toyota, and every pair of athletic shoes, of any sort, has been New Balance.

So as we talked in line about the differences between fresh squeezed orange juice and juice from concentrate, a funny thing happened. The checker in the line opened up her register. And even though both of us could have gotten much closer in line had we moved over one row, we decided to stay where we were. Like once you make a decision on something, you stay with that decision despite all the logic that dictates otherwise. I guess people really are creatures of habit.