Essay on 1. 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
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Power of buyers: The soft drink industry sold to consumers through five principal channels: food stores, convenience and gas, fountain, vending, and mass merchandisers (primary part of “Other” in “Cola Wars…” case). Supermarkets, the principal customer for soft drink makers, were a highly fragmented industry. The stores counted on soft drinks to generate consumer traffic, so they needed Coke and Pepsi products. But due to their tremendous degree of fragmentation (the biggest chain made up 6% of food retail sales, and the largest chains controlled up to 25% of a region), these stores did not have much bargaining power. Their only power was control over premium shelf space, which could be allocated to Coke or Pepsi products. This power did give them some control over soft drink profitability. Furthermore, consumers expected to pay less through this channel, so prices were lower, resulting in somewhat lower profitability.
National mass merchandising chains such as Wal-Mart, on the other hand, had much more bargaining power. While these stores did carry both Coke and Pepsi products, they could negotiate more effectively due to their scale and the magnitude of their contracts. For this reason, the mass merchandiser channel was relatively less profitable for soft drink makers.
The least profitable channel for soft drinks,
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