Since 1980 there has been a continuing growth in UK consumption of soft drinks - Sociology Essay Example

Since 1980 there has been a continuing growth in UK consumption of soft drinks - Since 1980 there has been a continuing growth in UK consumption of soft drinks introduction. According to one of the market leaders Britvic, “the 31 million adults currently in the UK over 35 were the first generation to grow up with soft drinks. They make up over 50% of the population and control 80% of the countries’ spending. They grew up in the Coca-Cola, Robinsons and Ribena culture and continue to consume soft drinks, as they grow older. In addition, they introduce their own children to products thereby ensuring virtually universal penetration”. (www.keynote.co.uk)

Research studies in the US show that an increased consumption of soft drinks instead of the more traditional drink of milk has contributed to increased incidences of obesity and tooth decay.

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In the UK the consumption of soft drinks has increased over the long term due to many factors, such as:

* Negative publicity surrounding the anti-social aspects of alcohol, including drink driving restrictions

* The use of soft drinks as a substitute for caffeine-based hot drinks, partly due to health consciousness trends

* Demand from children for packaged drinks, driven by effective marketing by large companies, combined with general ‘snacking’ aspect of British culture

* Wide distribution and availability, large selections in supermarkets and corner shops, bars, cafes and fast food outlets

Overall the soft drinks industry has grown due to the willingness of consumers to experiment and try new drinks. The major categories to emerged over the last 23 to 30 years include cartooned fruit juice, bottled water, adult soft drinks sports and energy drinks.

We will look at what influencing factors affect the consumption of these soft drinks.

Demographics

One of the most important influencing factors, which can affect consumer behaviour, is demographic factors. Demographic factors are individual characteristics such as age, sex, race, ethnic origin, family life cycle, income and occupation. Demographic factors have relevance on who is involved in family decision-making. Increasingly children aged 6 to 17 are having more influence in the buying decision process, from breakfast cereals, ice cream, soft drinks, holidays to even the family car. “77% of teenagers urge their parents to buy specific brands, they influence $240 billion in household spending” (www.investopedia.com). This can be seen in the way these products are designed and marketed. For example holiday brochures have been designed with information and pictures aimed at children and teenagers.

Again age groups can characterize and influence buying behaviour. Typically consumers aged 18 to 30 purchase household basics and appliances as they set up their households. While those aged 45 to 54 are more likely to spend their money on luxury and leisure items. This may be a result of being able to use their disposable income for their own needs and wants, rather than on their children.

Coca-Cola would target all of these age group segments, however they would concentrate on the younger audience. “We know that teens are forming impressions of brands at a younger age. By being exposed to their advertising and marketing, they’re starting to form impressions that they’ll carry”. (Wood cited in Ebenkamp, 2002).

The questions of Coca-Cola’s on-line survey show how they target the younger audience. Question 5 asks the consumer to agree or disagree with the statements describing Coca-Cola, such as it ‘is cool’, it ‘is real’ and more specifically ‘is for teens and young adults’. Also the Coca-Cola web site offers promotions, which are targeted at young teenagers and adults. The promotions include collecting coke credits to receive CD singles and albums, and by registering on-line you can win back-stage concert tickets.

However, “many15 to 19 year-olds claim not to drink carbonated drinks, there is a higher penetration in the next group up, 20 to 24 year olds, with 81%”. (www.keynote.co.uk)

A consumer’s gender is another influencing factor. Women are considered the new ‘Shoppers in Chief’, as they influence or buy 80% of all products sold. (Gobe, M). This may be due to the fact that most women make the purchasing decisions for their family; this is an important factor to soft drinks manufactures when marketing their products.

Men buy more carbonates, colas, energy drinks and mixers than women, however women buy more concentrates, juice and water than women. (www.keynotes.co.uk)

Women are more likely to purchase Diet Coke than men are. This may be due to women being more health conscious or connected to their lifestyle, which will be addressed in more detail later. Coca Cola have therefore targeted women with there advertising campaigns, such as the ‘Diet Coke Break’ advertisement, which was directly, aimed this market segment.

The soft drinks industry is world wide it overcomes many cultural and geographic boundaries, for example Coca-Cola has become the most familiar consumer brand in the world marketing 230 brands in 200 countries throughout the world.

Income and Occupation also have little effect on the decision to purchase soft drinks, as they are inexpensive products, which will not greatly affect your spending budget.

Social Class

How you perceive yourself in society will affect your behaviour when it comes to consuming. Even though we like to think that class systems do not exist today. We are still put into grades of class from A – E. These social groups are:

* A – Upper middle class

* B – Middle class

* C1 – Lower middle class

* C2 – Skilled working class

* D – Semi-skilled and unskilled

* E Lowest level of subsistence

Social class A consists of high paid people in high paid professional jobs. These people would have expensive tastes and desires and fortunately have the money to do this unlike people who are considered to be in the social class E. In class E they are people who are unemployed and students. This is because they usually have no stable income and for students they may have nothing at all except a student loan. Therefore, they do not have substantial income to purchase all their expensive desires and wants and will turn to purchasing a cheaper brand or inferior goods.

All soft drinks companies aim their products to all segments of the market. These would include the rich, poor, kids, health conscious, families and single people.

The companies offer people a wide variety of flavours such as raspberry, coke, pineapple, orange, lemonade and many more but with the awareness of health, these companies have introduced and promoted fruit juices and water, both flavoured and still. This is become more people are becoming aware of health problems such as diabetes and sugar rotting your teeth.

People are attracted to soft drinks as their packaging is usually vivid and bright. Coke use bright red labels to stand out, where as some companies use fancy calligraphy to illustrate their name. Some companies like Coke who produce Sprite cleverly use green bottles as the juice is clear and Tizer bottles are red due to the same reason.

Soft drinks usually come in a range of bottle sizes. The most common sizes are 500ml, 1 litre and 2 litres. The 500ml bottle would be aimed at people who have an expendable income. These people do not mind spending 80p per bottle even if they bought it two three times a day. People who do not have this money to spend would then opt for the cheaper option which would be a can, which would only cost 50p instead.

The 1 litre bottles have recently been revived lately. They used to be available in glass bottles but due to progress and technology they are now produced in plastic bottles and are now widely available. These are to target single people or people who live alone who would find that 500ml would not be sufficient and that a 2 litre would be too much and end up going flat quicker.

The 2 litre bottle would be aimed at families or people who would drink a lot of soft drinks. These are usually made more attractive for families as they offer special promotions such as twin packs at �1.85 or buy 1 get 1 free.

In society today, people are more health and body conscious. Due to this fact, they offer alternatives that are better than just a diet fizzy drink. The most popular fruit juices around at the moment would be Five Alive, Ribena, and small cartons of brands own name. These small cartons are aimed at kids and prove to be handy, especially for lunches and are a better alternative.

Due to the health craze that has arisen, companies are producing other products to suit the new lifestyle that people want. People no longer want to be drinking coke, coffee and tea which all contain ingredients such as sugar and caffeine but they want natural drinks such as water. This could come in the form of fizzy, still or flavoured.

Companies are also taking note that people are doing a lot more exercise and sport and are using this to promote energising drinks such as BPM, Red Bull and even Lucozade sport.

It does not matter what class you belong to in society it does not change your tastes. If you like something it usually does not matter how much it costs, you will find a way to buy it. Even people with money would not always buy brand labels and why should they if Tesco offer them the same value for money. Although own brand drinks are more popular for people with large families and a large amount of kids as it proves to work out cheaper for them and they usually end up buying more than two bottles a week.

Personality

An individual personality is the sum totals of those traits, which define his, or her individuality and which cause one person to be different from another. Personality traits are particular characteristics or aspects of this total personality. They give rise to behavioural responses to external stimuli that are enduring and consistent within a person’s psychological constitution. These traits are ingrained and stable dispositions to respond to certain situations in particular ways characteristic of that personality.

The traits, which make up the individual personality, have two main sources. Some of them are inherent, coming from our parents. This was the viewpoint of Freud and Jung. Others come from social conditioning and personal experience. This was the viewpoint of Alder. The emergence of the personality is a lengthy process, which continues throughout maturity into old age, with some traits becoming more developed or pronounced, whilst others mellow.

A description of personality traits may be categorised in a simple manner under three headings:

Role traits: which are those parts of the personality, which determine how an individual will react or behave in particular situations, and will react to the expectations of others in that situation.

Socio metric traits: which are those parts of the personality, which will shape individual reactions to the behaviour of other people, and their relationship to them.

Expressive disposition: which will determine an individual self-expression, both in response to particular situations, and towards other people.

The soft drinks industry may have to take into account of personality variables in the following way. Many people will have similar types of personality, or similar sets of traits. The market can be divided or ‘segmented’ on the basis of these typical personalities or stereotypes, and products and promotional activities targeted upon them.

Personality characteristics can be known as:

* Self-confidence

* Dominance

* Autonomy

* Sociability

* Defensiveness

* Adaptability

Personality is a useful variable when analysing consumer behaviour. Self- concept or self-image is related to personality. This often differs from the actual self-concept and others self-concept.

Beliefs and Attitudes

By doing and learning we acquire beliefs and attitudes. An attitude can be seen as a persons enduring or favourable evaluations, emotional feelings and action tendencies towards an idea or object. Attitudes make people act in fairly consistent way forward similar objects or situations. In order to change one single attitude you often have to make major adjustments in a lot of attitudes. Consequently it is difficult to change attitudes.

Depending on the product the industry want to sell whether drinks, or clothes (Coca-Cola) etc, each purchase will have different buying behaviour. There is also a diversity of change in that today’s people demand more. Coca-Cola for example, also produces radios, calendars, clocks, watches, magnets and many more collectible products. Even though many people may not even drink Coca Cola, they may still buy their product brand. Expensive, complex products such as their clothes range, that a consumer does not frequently buy calls for high involvement decision.

Low involvement decisions or routine problem solving follow a somewhat different buying pattern, this can be evident in the purchase of a can of coke. The consumers know what he or she wants and do not evaluate different alternatives.

When using the behavioural influence perspective, the soft drinks industry may try to influence the consumers before the consumers have formed an opinion about the product or service.

A definition of attitude:

“The amount of affect or feeling for or against a stimulus”

(L.L Thurstone)

I feel this quote is one of the most interesting and important for any marketers.

Attitudes towards a company create a company image. People tend to act according to these patterns when buying. A strong company image gives good business.

Attitude is often said to reflect people deep values meaning that the attitudes are used as an evaluative instrument. We often evaluate products, people, and events and so forth by using our experiences and attitudes. This can be known as the Tripartite Theory of Attitudes, or the A-B-C Theory.

The attitude is divided into three elements that are not separated from each other. The first parts of the process are the base that leads to the consumer’s final decision making.

A-B-C THEORY

(Rosenberg and Hovland)

From the diagram, it is easy to see the link between the theory and the consumer behaviour process. Consequently one sees why it is important for any soft drinks industry to know about the consumer’s attitudes.

When dealing with attitudes it is of greater importance to be concerned with the predisposition of behaviour rather than the behaviour itself.

Are we the ‘coke drinkers’ or are was it our parents generation? I feel that the younger generation today recognise the need to consume a wide variety of beverages, including milk, water, juices and sports drinks. We feel that women are now more body conscious and help maintain a healthy weight with the help of daily physical activity and low calorie diet.

There is an increase in overweight young people – twice as many children and three times as many adolescents are overweight now as in 1980. This is causing particular concern. Physicians are alarmed at the number of youths being diagnosed with type II diabetes, previously a largely adult condition brought on by excess weight and inactivity.

Soft drinks are perceived as a threat to health and some parents believe they’re addictive and can cause adverse effects. Others say they’re the main cause of dental problems as well as ulcers.

Some parents also believe that soft drinks make kids hyperactive. Children who have this condition have trouble paying attention, cant concentrate at anything they do and generally have disruptive behaviour.

But it is evident from the overall sales decline in the soft drinks industry and the increase consumption of fruit juices and water that people are becoming more conscious of the health aspects related to fizzy soft drinks.

Psychological

Consumer Learning

As Coca-Cola’s carbonated soft drinks and coke classic brand continue to fall dramatically, there are many questions need to be asked to discover the reasons why?

On the other hand Diet Coke, Caffeine free coke and vanilla coke make up approximately 60% of total volume at the company. This may suggest that consumers are becoming more health cautious and are moving away from sugary soft drinks to bottled water. Sales of bottled water have rose by nearly 40%. This may be down to parental influence especially when young children are involved. Parents may not allow their children to drink coke because it makes them hyper due to high sugar levels, never mind other issues such as tooth decay, obesity etc.

In this day and age it appears to be trendy to drink bottled water and water flavoured drinks. This may be so because they feel the water tastes better. It also enables drinkers to project a healthy image and suggest that they are well off has they are paying for a free commodity.

Learning through schools, colleges and universities who promote healthy eating may also convince the consumer that it is much healthier to drink water than fizzy drinks. As non-carbonated drinks such as Powerade (sports drink) and Dasani (bottled water brand) has doubled over the past two years, analysts suggest that growth may slow this year as those markets mature.

In my opinion I believe coke is going out of fashion. Researcher’s found that consumer’s had an emotional connection to the drink: a connection based more on nostalgia and sentiment than on physical attributes. Coca-Cola had been an all American icon, which consumers had grown up with. Observing people’s drinking habits would suggest to me that bottled water and diet drinks are much more popular. A generation ago, coca-cola was much more popular, but as people’s perception’s change, coca-cola has become less popular

Motivating Consumers

Today, much of Coca-Cola’s advertising is based on reminding the audience that Coke is a part of the American culture, as well as part of the spread of that culture around the world.

One of Coca-Cola’s new advertising campaigns is the use of the “Harry Potter” character. We can tell from this that the advert will be mostly directed at children. In my view this is a technique used so that children will pester their parents to purchase the product, just because they can relate to the character.

However, non-profit organisation’s have criticised Coca-Cola because they claim children’s health will suffer due to sugary drinks. On the other hand Coke claims they are promoting the vote of writing and magic.

The use of pop stars promoting their products would also boost consumer motivation as consumers may relate to them, say for instance age group or type of music they desire. Promotions would also boost consumption along with television and print ads.

Pepsi one of Coca-Cola’s major competitor’s also launch major advertising campaigns. Recently they set up with Paramount Pictures in relation to Tomb Raider. This was to publicise its Wild Cherry Pepsi drink with the “Raid the Pepsi Promotion”.

As MTV attracts teenagers Pepsi looked to them to promote it fruitworks beverage. The MTV/fruitworks electronic sweepstake was ongoing for one month and consumers had a chance to win a trip to MTV’s New Year’s Eve party.

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