An initiative sponsored by the Association pour la santé publique du Québec

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Translation of this website has been made possible through financial support from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Health Canada.

The views expressed herein represent the views of the Weight Coalition and do not necessarily represent the views of the project funders.



A lucrative market at the expense of healthy products

Do we really need to consume soft drinks or energy drinks? Or is it the industry itself that, by constantly launching new products and distributing them far and wide, creates this need in the population?

The 4 Ps of marketing =
product, price, 
promotion and placement, in the sense of distribution 

Product: Something for everyone

Water, sugar (or a substitute) and, at times, natural or synthetic caffeine: This is essentially what goes into making SSBs.

In order to conquer new markets, the industry bets on an ever broader variety of products. So much so that the supply of SSBs today is enormous.

Targets are carefully studied
By targeting each sliver of the market and broadening product lines, companies seek to stand out from the field. There is a SSB for each type of consumer.

To learn more about it...

See the Volume 1 of the report Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Marketing Unveiled:

Price: A decisive element

Price is a key factor in the purchasing process.

  • For young people, price constitutes the second most important determinant (after food preferences) of food consumption [1, 2, 3].

Soft and energy drinks are usually sold at cheap prices or at a discount.

Price increase relative to staple foods
In Canada, while the price of staple foods (e.g., eggs, bread, butter, oil) has risen sharply since 1995, the price of soft drinks has registered only very moderate increases. From January 1995 to August 2009, prices climbed:

  • 98% for bread,
  • 53% for butter,
  • versus 11% for carbonated cola drinks and 6% for lemon-lime-flavoured soft drinks.

These price increases bear witness to the profit margin on these products and to the low cost of manufacturing these beverages.

Taxing SSBs to diminish their appeal and availability
Numerous governments already have identified taxation as a means of preventing problems associated with obesity. Moreover, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity have all pointed to the introduction of a “soda tax” as one of the most promising strategies for governments in terms of health-related costs and benefits.

In this regard, the Weight Coalition proposes implementing a tax on energy and soft drinks that would be imposed on bottlers similarly to what is already done with alcoholic beverages.

To learn more about it...

See the Volume 2 of the report Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Marketing Unveiled:


[1] Taylor, J.P., Evers, S. et McKenna, M. (2005). Les déterminants de la saine alimentation chez les enfants et les jeunes. Revue canadienne de santé publique, 96(Supplément 3) : S23-S29.

[2] Shepherd, J., Harden, A., Rees, R., Brunton, G., Garcia, J., Oliver, S. et Oakley, A. (2006). Young people and healthy eating: a systematic review of research on barriers and facilitators. Health Education Research, 21(2), pp. 239–257.

[3] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2006). Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? National Academy of Sciences. Committee on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children, Washington D.C., The National Academy Press : 536 pages

Place: Betting on availability!

SSBs are everywhere: grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theatres, vending machines and even some of Quebec’s national parks. It has become well-nigh impossible to avoid them.

Today, all consumers need to do is reach out to “pluck” or “pick” a bottle out of a cooler or a machine!

How can we go on considering them occasional beverages when they are an integral part of our food environment?

All measures aimed at limiting the distribution of SSBs in places frequented in particular by young people will be welcome and beneficial.

To learn more about it...

See the Volume 3 of the report Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Marketing Unveiled:

Promotion: Key to success

The impressive sales volumes of soft drink companies are highly contingent upon advertisement and promotion. The major bottlers invest huge sums of money to develop their products.

  • In 2006, the major companies spent $4 billion in soft drink advertising [4].
  • In 2007, Coca-Cola invested more than $2.8 billion in advertising [5].
  • In sponsorships alone, Coca Cola reportedly invested $212 million at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

The World Health Organization has identified the intense marketing of high-calorie foods with little nutritional value as a probable and convincing factor in the obesity epidemic.

This includes, among other things, associating brand names with celebrities and musical or sporting events. Beverages are thus associated with values and attitudes that the young and not-so-young are highly sensitive to.

However, Quebec is beginning to question the omnipresence of SSBs particularly in relation to sponsorships.

According to a recent survey of 2300 respondents carried out by Ipsos Descarie on behalf of the Weight Coalition, 37% of Quebecois feel that it is not appropriate for Coca-Cola to be sponsoring the Olympic Games.

To learn more about it...

See the Volume 4 of the report Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Marketing Unveiled:

  • Volume 4 - "Promotion: Buying the approval of young people" (coming soon)
  • Summary of Volume 4

[4] Advertising Age’s Global Marketers. (2007, November 16). Consulted at

[5] Source: 

Discover what lies behind the marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages!

Concerned about the influence of marketing on the consumption of sugary drinks, the Weight Coalition produced the report Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Marketing Unveiled in order to analyze the four elements of the beverages' marketing mix (product, price, place and promotion).


Volume 1 - "The product: A Varied Offering to Respond to a Segmented Market"

Volume 2 - "Price: An Argument That Pays Off"

Volume 3 - "Place: A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Always at your Fingertips"

Volume 4 - "Promotion: Buying the approval of young people"

« Boissons sucrées et marketing : une histoire tissée serrée »
For an historic perspective of SSB marketing, consult the article on pages 4 to 8 in the Bulletin de santé publique of the ASPQ.