The soft drink story begins with marketing and ends with consumer satisfaction. Carbonated beverage marketing is big business and possibly the most visible product promotion campaign existing. Direct advertising on signs, motor vehicles, store displays, print ads, television, radio, clothing, and anywhere else a logo or jingle can be found constantly reminds us we are thirsty. From subtle placements in movies to giant skywriting over sports events, soft drink advertising is ubiquitous. From the early patent medicine purveyors to the latest extreme-sport computer-graphic commercials, the point is the same, sell more soft drinks. These are fun refreshing products, so the ads tend to be more attractive and enjoyable than most. Not many products have more appealing packaging graphics or vending machine decoration to be sure.

Although good quality advertising and packaging increase desire to purchase, the product must also consistently deliver the promised refreshment at a reasonable price. Competitive promotion pressures have kept the price of soft drinks quite reasonable. There are times during holiday promotions when products are sold at or below cost to increase market share and meet volume targets. This discounting has contributed to the demise of the small, inefficient bottler and the growth of the larger franchisors. Another factor in that evolution is the consolidation of supermarket chains, giving stores more control over which products get shelf space and end-of-aisle displays.

Soft drinks are marketed primarily to the young, from teenage years through the twenties, because early preferences often continue as people age. The brands want to be associated with the "in crowd" and good times. The brand confers status to those that are seen with a can. As the population demographics are aging, more ads will be seen with older people enjoying soft drinks, perhaps with nostalgia.

Not only do the advertising campaigns adjust to changing times, but new product offerings will be available for changing tastes and lifestyles. The recent proliferation of sports drinks, flavored waters, and good-for-you beverages are keeping up with the trends. The future is unpredictable, but you can be sure soft drinks will evolve to fill the niche for liquid refreshment.

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