Posts Tagged ‘beverages’

Wherefore Pop Art Thou?It’s time for another look at the kind of CSD you’ve been drinking lately when you toss down a sweet LRB. And the results may be scarier than than you expect. (But hang on — the charts are better than ever!)

Beverage Digest has brought out their yearly summary, leading off with the ominous words, “2013 Was A Challenging Year for U.S. Beverage Business.” Among other things, note that this capitalizes “Was” and even “A” but not “for” in that spooky opening line. That may give you some idea that there’s trouble ahead.

First some terminology you need to know when discussing this topic as though you know what you’re talking about:

  • BD = Beverage Digest
  • LRB = Liquid Refreshment Beverage
  • CSD = Carbonated Soft Drink

I think insiders pronounce those bud, lurb, and cussed, as in, “Bud says the cussed lurbs are losing market share again.”


US CSD sales were down a bit to a mere $76 billion in 2013. That’s a big number even if you’re a billionaire, so to give it some perspective: If a country only made, bought/sold and drank that much CSDs and did nothing else, it would have a GDP of about the 85th largest country in the world. Imagine everyone in the country of Jordan doing nothing but buying and selling that much Coke and Pepsi all year long. They’d be as much of an economic powerhouse as they are now, except the people would probably burp a lot more.

On the other hand, that much money is only enough to give everyone on the planet a $10 bill. Once. So maybe it’s not so much after all. But on the third hand, it’s still comfortably above the comparatively meager $56 billion that Americans spent on their pets last year.

Per Capita Consumption

Things start to get scary with this factoid: BD says that US consumption per person was down in 2013 but still equivalent to just shy of two drinks each day for every man, woman, and newborn baby in the country. This could help to explain many, many things. But we won’t try.

 Soft Drink Pie

If you’re the kind of person who can’t help but go to the Google or Bing image search page and type in oddball search terms like “soft drink pie chart”, then for the last few years you will have seen the 2010 pie chart near the top of the results list. So obviously it’s time to provide another pie chart, for 2013, to try to get more of these images in the top of those searches. Because … well, because of some important reason that has temporarily slipped our mind.

These pie charts may show up for other image searches like the slightly more reasonable “soft drink market share” although performance is sporadic for such reasonable search terms.


2103 approximate relative market share for the top 10 soft drinks (CSDs)


CSD Market Share Can

The pie chart can be somewhat disorienting to the excessively logical types, who are disturbed by a food-based diagram used to depict drinks. So in yet another hopeless effort to appease such folks, here’s another look at 2013 CSD market. If you were a person with super-typical tastes who…

  • bought soft drinks in exact proportion to the rest of the country
  • selected the top ten most common flavors
  • mixed those all together well
  • and then poured the mixture back into all the empty cans

.. then each of the combo-cans that you drank would be composed as shown in the following picture. Bottoms up!We are what we drinkAnd if you’re not feeling good after drinking all that, go see the doctor and mention you suspect it’s cussed lurbs.


Data presentation tip: strive for charts and graphs that (a) communicate with a zing, or at least (b) make people hungry or thirsty. If a 6-year old can quickly grasp the message, you’re on the right track. In this case, the little tyke will soon be asking for some sugary drinks. Anyway send in requests for new ways to depict these things so we can help people to just get it. Finally.



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Your favorite soda newsletter, Beverage Digest, has just released data for 2010. It contains the shocking statistics showing that Diet Coke is now the #2 drink, pushing Pepsi down to #3. This is troubling and demands some further serious investigation. Especially since Beverage Digest is one of the self-described authoritative publications covering non-alcoholic drinks. Let’s assume they deserve to be listened to.

But I’ll leave the investigating for someone else. Instead, I’ll look at the exciting subject of how to communicate through the effective presentation of data — with a focus on how to transform people who are innocently viewing data into people who think they are thirsty and need to buy a soft drink. Now.

To increase thirst levels, you should be clicking on links and pictures (for larger views) throughout this post.

Here is the data from the Beverage Digest (BD) study graphed in a variety of ways. The first two graphs show a rather dull way to present the data of which carbonated soft drink (that’s CSD to the BD people) sold the most in 2010. The graph on the right is slightly better because it has a mild 3D look and the bars may rather weakly invoke images of soft drink cans in the mind of the reader – albeit very tall and skinny cans in some cases. But the winners and losers don’t just immediately jump right out at you. We can do better.

The following graph is a big improvement. You don’t have to be a mathematician to instantly grasp where people are spending their soft drink money and which drinks contribute the most to tooth decay.

Pop Chart

Another possibility is just to stretch or shrink the size of the can to represent its sales numbers. The following chart does this, in a mildly deceptive way. While sales are relative to the can height, its width also grows (or shrinks) with the height, so that the apparent sales numbers are exaggerated for better or for worse. The little guys really drop off rapidly in this approach. This is a good example of data that’s not only accurate but at the same time intentionally distorted. That’s a trick some good marketing people strive for. The rest don’t bother with the accurate part.

No data presentation is really complete without a pie chart, even though it’s about liquids in this case. Here’s the relative market share of the top 10 soft drinks, where the slice size and owners are quickly identified.

Relative market share, top 10 soft drinks in 2010

Next up is a personal twist, my relative soft drink preference. I add in some Root Beer players even though they didn’t make the top 10 for Beverage Digest. Maybe their non-alcoholic market analysis got confused by the ‘Beer’ part. Vote for your favorite, on the off-hand chance it’s not Dr Pepper.

Finally, those interested in more on visual data presentation should check out the book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. It contains the famous (for the few who know of it) chart of Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812, created by one Charles Joseph Minard in 1869. It is probably safe to claim that this is the only chart you’ll ever see that combines army size, location, time, direction of army movement, and temperature while readily communicating the devastating losses Napoleon suffered on the campaign. The book also contains amusing examples of data distortion in graphs and charts, and even quantifies the amount of deception.

And speaking of devastating losses, let’s all go buy a Fanta to give it a boost in its battle against the mighty Coke products.

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