NITRO PEPSI™ is Pepsi’s Grand Slam to Dethrone Coke
On March 28, the multinational, politically powerful, #44 on the Fortune 500, nearly direct-to-consumer corn syrup distributor, PepsiCo, released an iteration of their “most popular” (We’ll get to the quotation marks later.) soft drink, Pepsi to the public.
It’s called NITRO PEPSI™. Seemingly, the only material difference between what PepsiCo is calling “the first-ever nitrogen-infused cola” and its progenitor (Pepsi) is that instead of being a carbonated mixture of acids, caramel color and fructose, it’s a nitrogenated mixture of acids, caramel color and fructose — with an “easy texture,” a “silky, frothy foam head” and of course, “The unapologetically Pepsi taste.”
Nitrogenation (or nitrogen infusion) has been used in the beer industry to keg beer for hundreds of years. Pasteurized kegging not only preserves beer, it’s also a convenient way for producers to distribute their product. Beer is naturally carbonated, so using carbon to pressurize the beer can misbalance the pH, changing the taste and stability of the beer and its foam.
So, producers use nitrogen to highly pressurize the beer while maintaining its intended qualities. Draft beers are famous for their foam “heads”. Beers like Guinness, rely on rich nitrogen foam as part of their brand identity (links to YouTube video of former Guinness head brewer Fergal Murray showcasing the “perfect pour”).
It’s no secret that the craft beer bros have taken over. Millions of millennials across the North American continent discovered craft beer in the 2010s, and the movement has been bubbling over into American culture ever since. According to an annual report by the Brewers Association (a not-for-profit trade organization operating in the US), a record number of 9,118 craft breweries are now operating in the US.
But you don’t need to see the numbers. You’ve heard it from the mouths of your friends, family members, and fellow drinkers. New words to describe beer have been burnt into all of our lexicons.
“It’s so hoppy.” (It’s bitter.)
“It has such a smooth mouthfeel.” (It’s a liquid.)
“This is a very complex beer.” (It tastes really bad.)
So what is driving this movement? Why is it continuing to grow? It’s certainly not because of the flavor. Men around the globe have had beer for centuries, what makes beer different now?
It’s simple. Drinking beer and knowing about your drink makes you seem smarter. More sophisticated. Worldly, even. It’s not surprising that beer was the cultural cornerstone that we’ve all converged upon. It’s the everyman’s drink. Wine is for snobs. Beer, we’re all drinking it anyway — why not make it cool?
I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I was curious enough to watch a video of NITRO PEPSI™ being consumed by a group of middle-class white men-children. I had to sate my morbid curiosity some way, and I certainly wasn’t going out to buy a can of it myself.
The first thing I noticed about the can is that it contains instructions. Yes, you now need instructions to drink a Pepsi.
Not only are there instructions, but the final step of the three step process is “Admire & Enjoy.” What the hell does that mean? Admire and enjoy my Pepsi?
Then I saw it. The detail that clarified everything. In the syurpy suds, there it was. The omen.
Finally, Pepsi’s logo made sense. The white wave that runs through the Pepsi Globe represents bubbles on top of a cold, refreshing Pepsi! I had long suspected this was the case, but it was not until NITRO PEPSI™ was released on the world did the the symbol and reality converge so clearly.
Just as symbolically, Pepsi has come into its own in its newly nitrogenated form, so too will the new beverage allow PepsiCo to come into its own.
But NITRO PEPSI™ isn’t the golden bullet to kill King Coca-Cola. It’s only one part of the final phase of corporate strategy that will lead PepsiCo to victory.
You’re PepsiCo. Here’s how you’re going to beat Coca-Cola and transform the market.
PART ONE: GET SQUARE WITH REALITY
First, understand that Pepsi (the drink) cannot compete with Coke (the drink). Coke isn’t just everyone’s favorite soft drink, it’s more than that. It’s the American way. Pepsi is an imitator. And everyone knows it.
Pepsi is not something people just buy. Individual consumers are coerced to buy it when it’s on sale. Here’s how that thought process goes:
“I have to pick up some sodas for the party later. Oh nice, Pepsi products are on sale, I’ll grab Mug, Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper…hmm…I need a cola, too. I’ll grab a case of Pepsi.”
Restaurants, strip clubs, bars, bowling alleys and all the like will continue to serve Pepsi. Many of these places have contracts with PepsiCo, making it much cheaper to serve its products over its competitors. How many times have you wanted a Coke and heard “Is Pepsi okay?”
“It’s fine,” you reply. But a jack and Pepsi just isn’t the same.
Despite its actual and perceived inferiority to Coca-Cola, through individual and private business purchases, you’ve maintained a steady stream of sales and thus Pepsi’s brand power.
You’ve tried the cheap tricks: add more sugar to Pepsi than is added to Coke and reduce the price in comparison to Coke, but to truly change minds, you’ll need to take advantage of something you already have.
PART TWO: BUILD MARKET SHARE
Start pushing Mountain Dew HARD. Drop most of the letters, you only need six. Mtn Dew. Rebrand — make Mtn Dew the drink of the youth, of the gamers, of the Funko Pop buyers. It’s EXTREME GAMER FUEL!!! Who cares if they make fun of you? Doritos and Dew, broski! Allow post-ironic culture to do the rest.
All the while, retain your loyal customer in America’s heartland. According to a 2017 report by Jillian Berman of Huffpost, 20% of Mountain Dew drinkers are responsible for nearly 70% of its volume. Most of them are concentrated in middle America and the South.
I believe anyone who’s willing to regularly drink Mountain Dew must be under some kind of mind control. Perhaps you could say it’s an addiction. Either way, these zombies can be counted on to continuously consume your sweet neon nectar generationally.
PART THREE: RELEASE NEW DEW
Give consumers what they want. Mountain Dew. Release a shitty new flavor of Mountain Dew each month for a decade or two. If they’re willing to drink Mountain Dew, they’re willing to drink anything. Any flavor will do. It doesn’t have to be good — it doesn’t even have to sound good. It just has to be different.
Each of these new Dews will technically count as a different…uh… “refreshment,” so, as I alluded to earlier, you can continue to claim that Pepsi is your “most popular” beverage, thus maintaining the illusion that Pepsi is PepsiCo.
PART FOUR: THE GRAND SLAM
The final part is the riskiest. But with what you now know about consumers, culture and your own products, you’re ready for it.
Release a nitrogen-infused drink to appeal to the novelty-driven sophisticates of the middle class.
PART FOUR-POINT-FIVE: WAIT, WHAT?
Around the same time as you release NITRO PEPSI™, start putting alcohol in Mountain Dew for some fucking reason. It’s for adults. It’s mature. They’ll laugh, oh they’ll laugh. But they’ll try some, too.
A VISION OF THE FUTURE
A few decades later, you’ve pulled it off.
You’re at a bar. It’s 2050. President West is making on the TV. You’re sitting on your stool, Rolex on and dressed to the nines, and you spot an attractive young woman. She’s looking at you. You walk over and say “Hey.” You can feel her warmth. You know what to do.
“Can I buy you a Pepsi?”
In 2045, regular old Pepsi isn’t only being enjoyed by the underclass in their homes, but also in all their establishments, and for every meal. Excess Coke is used to water fields due to the fresh water shortage. The elites are sitting back in their communal-isolation chambers, laughing over pints, enjoying the rich, fizzy heads of your black syurp, keg after keg. Instead of birthday cakes, children blow out the candles in the NITRO PEPSI™.
Beer? What’s that? I’ll have NITRO PEPSI™.
Cocktails? No thanks, I’ll take a Hard Mountain Dew — zero sugar, please.
In 2050, they’ll be enjoying Pepsi Kombucha and Pepsi-Milk. By 2060, Pepsiman is president.