Why Is The Soft Drink Industry So Profitable?

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1. Why is the soft drink industry so profitable?
An industry analysis through Porter’s Five Forces reveals that market forces are favorable for profitability.
Defining the industry: Both concentrate producers (CP) and bottlers are profitable. These two parts of the
industry are extremely interdependent, sharing costs in procurement, production, marketing and distribution.
Many of their functions overlap; for instance, CPs do some bottling, and bottlers conduct many promotional
activities. The industry is already vertically integrated to some extent. They also deal with similar suppliers
and buyers. Entry into the industry would involve developing operations in either or both disciplines.
Beverage substitutes would threaten both CPs and their associated bottlers. Because of operational overlap
and similarities in their market environment, we can include both CPs and bottlers in our definition of the soft
drink industry. In 1993, CPs earned 29% pretax profits on their sales, while bottlers earned 9% profits on their
sales, for a total industry profitability of 14% (Exhibit 1). This industry as a whole generates positive
economic profits.
Rivalry: Revenues are extremely concentrated in this industry, with Coke and Pepsi, together with their
associated bottlers, commanding 73% of the case market in 1994. Adding in the next tier of soft drink
companies, the top six controlled 89% of the market. In fact, one could characterize the soft drink market as an
oligopoly, or even a duopoly between Coke and Pepsi, resulting in positive economic profits. To be sure, there
was tough competition between Coke and Pepsi for market share, and this occasionally hampered profitability.
For example, price wars resulted ...
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