Brandweek weekly column for BrandIndex: Soda wars, Yahoo, Target

Soda Brands Lose Fizz

Sept 3, 2010

With summer coming to an end, the buzz scores of the major soda brands have cooled off as well. Research firm YouGov attributes the drop to U.S. consumers' growing focus on healthier beverages.

The Brandweek BrandIndex Report by YouGov is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on buzz: The scores are based on weighing positive and negative perceptions of a brand. A +100 score is positive, a -100 score is negative, and a rating of zero means that the score is neutral. This week's report also examines whether consumers would recommend a brand to others.

YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of 1.5 million individuals.

The report spotlights:

• Soda brands
• Yahoo
• Target

Summer Soda Wars

The scores of soda brands with the highest buzz dipped modestly over the past 12 weeks, compared to the previous three months. The drop is most likely due to Americans growing more health conscious and Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign. Only one brand registered a positive tick: Dr. Pepper.

The top four brands -- Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi and Sprite -- remain perched in the same spots, compared to three months ago. Mug Root Beer and Sunkist also stayed put in the ninth and tenth slots, respectively. However, there have been small movements elsewhere: A&W and Canada Dry edged up a spot, while 7UP and Mountain Dew slipped one each.

Yahoo Powers Up Marketing
All summer long, Yahoo turned up the marketing for adults 18-34, and succeeded in matching Google’s recommend score by the end of August. Focusing on partnerships to generate traffic -- including recent deals with Microsoft (for search), Twitter and Gannett -- Yahoo has reached its highest recommend score since the beginning of the year.

Yahoo soared from a 52.6 score on June 1 to a current score of 83.9. During the same period, Google cooled down in the stratosphere, going from a 94.6 score, and settling at 84.7.

Target Buzz Plummets

Target itself in political hot water in early August when it was revealed that it donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a group that supports gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who has aligned himself with radical anti-gay groups. Despite CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s Aug. 5 apology on the company's site, Target lost one-third of its buzz score in the course of 10 days.

Although Target’s score recovered modestly from Aug. 12 through Aug. 24, it sunk again due to a rash of major newspaper op-eds, blog posts and publicity surrounding televised boycott ads from MoveOn PAC.