Diet Coke vs Coca-Cola Zero – Brand Positioning

A friend recently asked me what the difference is between Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero.  I don’t think he realized it, but this is a very good question from a marketing perspective.

Coca-Cola’s Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero both claim to be calorie and sugar free – why then would a firm want to produce almost identical products?

The answer, I believes, in the way that the drink’s have been positioned and differentiated as brands.

‘Positioning’ is how consumers view your product in the market place.  It is often valuable to map out positioning, relative to competitors and your other products in a perceptual map, such as below.












It is clear from above that Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero are viewed as very similar products.  Yet despite the similar positioning, differentiating the two drinks enables Coca-Cola to avoid cannibalizing sales and, in fact, make a profit.

Diet Coke has long been aimed at a Women, with the ‘Diet Coke Break’ advertisements forming a fundamental part of this.


Unfortunately for Coca-Cola, it is no longer women that are worried about calories and sugar.  The recognition of the importance of healthy eating means that men now also want a healthier alternative to regular Coca-Cola.  Hence, the firm needed to introduce a new ‘Diet Coke’ with branding and an integrated marketing communications plan to differentiate the product to appeal to men.  This prevents consumers defecting to Pepsi Max or Diet Pepsi.

In contrast to Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero is far more masculine, with darker packaging and Lynx-esque (or Axe-esque for US readers) advertising.


© Josh Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 22/10/2013

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