Turning a Liability into an Asset

December 21st, 2010 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

mmmmm... taste that freedomphoto © 2005 Dave Morris | more info (via: Wylio)
Coca-Cola has introduced a new bottle partially derived from plants.  It is ironic since the soda giants who are accused of using so much sugar are now utilizing sugar to make the bottle.

Obesity Challenge

Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola along with other producers of soda are under fire for their products leading to obesity.  The driver in the claim is the sugar content in the beverages.  Parents are attempting to restrict intake of these products. In fact, schools are now banning soda and other products filled with sugar and calories from vending machines and cafeterias.

How the two leading soda companies prepared for this day


1.      They have moved into bottled water and juices to diversify the brand line up.

2.      Expanded to new geography like Africa.  In many areas of Africa the water is not safe to drink.  Sodas are made from filtered water.  The product is transferred from a “nice to have” sugar drink in the US to a key source of liquids to keep the body hydrated in Africa.

Bottom Line: They are very dependent on drinks and “protecting the fort.”


1.      Years ago, they changed their view of themselves.  They are a snack and beverage company.  That mindset led to the acquisition of Frito Lay for snacks that can be consumed with Pepsi Cola or other beverages.

2.      They moved much more heavily into non-carbonated drinks with the acquisition of Gatorade, the launching of a variety of teas and bottled waters.

Bottom Line: They did not decide to “protect the fort.”  Rather, they built a new fort.

The Takeaway

If you do not re-imagine your business and consider possible threats, then someone else will do so for you.

That’s my thinking.  How about you?  Please comment below.

1.      Do you favor Pepsi’s approach or that of Coke?

2.      How have you re-imagined your business?

3.      When is the last time you performed a SWOT Analysis to consider your Weaknesses and Threats?

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  1. Living in Atlanta, where Coke is headquartered, I simply must support them and only them!! LOL. You raise a superb point that companies must rebrand to meet culturual demands. I really do believe that both Coke and Pepsi are doing this effectively. In the end it is up to the consumer to pay attention to current information, to make the best choices, and to stop passing blame on corporations for their self induced obesity.

    • Rob Berman says:


      You hit it. We must take responsibility for the self-induced obesity. My kids seem to be pretty unique in that they do not drink soda –ever. Perhaps, that is why they are thin.


  2. Jeff Clark says:

    Rob, Great post. While I favor the Pepsi model, the fact is both models work. A lot of underlying analysis is needed to decide which is right for me, or whether it is a blend, but I would always consider both.

    For example, one option may require more capital than is on hand. One option could be a stepping stone to another – what if Pepsi had purchased the biggest snack company in Africa as way to set up a distribution channel for beverages in Africa AND use the existing channel to push snack sales in the US down the road.

    • Rob Berman says:


      Glad you liked the post. Interesting idea about snacks in Africa for Pepsi. With two companies it is an either or for the post. However, your perspective of combining both makes sense.


  3. Lovely analogy, Rob. This WAS a great post. I admire when people can use real life examples as a parable. I have definitely re-imagined my business. I advertised myself solely as a graphic designer and now I advertise my illustration more. It’s been a rocky year, but one that I have learned from the most. Life is an interesting thing.

    • Rob Berman says:


      Thanks for the compliment. You need multiple strings of revenue to smooth out the peaks and valleys. Sounds like you have now embarked on a second source.


  4. Personally I’m for Pepsi’s approch. They are moving on and developing new and healthy alternatives. That’s the way of the future.

    The amount of Westerners, above all Americans, that are obese is staggering. Have never seen obese people in Sweden until now. Was swimming the other day and in the changing room one woman lifted her stomach to apply deo.

    • Rob Berman says:


      I agree with you about needing a larger world view for Americans. I have traveled to 20 countries over the years. It is amazing to look at the US from the outside. Obesity is now a large problem for children as well.


  5. If what you’re doing is not working, then I think it’s imperative to step back and see why not and why you need to do about it. I’m doing that evaluation myself right now. How can I move my business forward? What do I need to do? I’ve already been transitioning my focus to social media because that is where I’m getting traction.

  6. Paul Novak says:

    Great example of how to diversify in order to protect your relevancy and brand Rob. So many people fail to realize the full potential of their skills or products that when problems or setbacks arise they end up playing damage control rather than simply making a shift in emphasis.

    I am practicing exactly this sort of thinking in expanding my markets across a wide field. If my commercial copy work slows down or demand tanks, I can shift towards promotionals and affilate work. If those are not viable, I can emphasize web development instead.

    It’s all a matter of exploring the potential that your current capabilities offer.

    Great post.

    • Rob Berman says:


      I like your thinking. Not all sectors of business fire at the same time. Having multiple areas to focus smooths out the ups and downs.


      • Paul Novak says:

        Thanks. My goal is to have multiple income streams from the same basic fundamental skill set (writing) and not rely on any single one to support me. Hence, unlike a lot of freelance writers who “specialize” in only one or two areas, I plan on doing paper columns, writing commercial copy, editing, promoting products or services etc etc. All rely on writing, but spread the niche’ much wider.

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