What you need to know

Although the carbonated soft drink category’s household penetration rate remains high at 91.4%—only a slight drop from last year’s 92.2%, according to Information Resources Inc. Builders Panel data— consumers are continuing to drink less CSDs. Category sales experienced consistent declines beginning in 2012, decreasing 2.4% from 2012 to 2013. Sales are estimated to continue to decrease in 2014 another 2.9% to $41.1 billion, according to Mintel research. Consumer’s attention to health and other beverage categories is driving cutbacks, particularly in the diet soft drink segment, which experienced a 13.3% decline in dollar sales from 2012-14. Only the seltzer, tonic, and club soda segment saw growth, likely benefiting from the popularity of sparkling and bottled waters.

Manufacturers are innovating with flavors, packaging, and natural sweeteners to hold consumer’s interest, while connecting their brands with better lifestyles outside of health benefits. However, the industry is forecast to continue to decline through 2019 and more engagement and positive perceptions are needed to hold the interests of today’s consumers.

This report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Carbonated Soft Drinks—US, June 2013 as well as similar reports from June 2013, February 2012, August 2010, June 2009, February 2003, May 2008, April 2007, and March 2006.


For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

Carbonated soft drinks are non-alcoholic beverages that have added carbonation. This category includes beverages that do not contain additives, such as seltzer water, or they may include a range of flavors, sweeteners, and colors. Colas and non-colas are combined in the regular and diet segments.

This report divides the market into three segments:

  • Regular or full-calorie (non-diet) carbonated drinks

  • Diet, including sugar- or calorie-reduced, carbonated soft drinks

  • Seltzer, club soda, and tonic water.

Excluded from this report are sparkling water brands, carbonated energy drinks, such as Red Bull, and alcoholic beverages. Sales of carbonated beverages through fountains and foodservice (restaurants, cafeterias, food trucks, etc) are also excluded.

Value figures throughout this report are at (rsp) retail selling prices excluding sales tax unless otherwise stated.

Data sources

Sales data

  • Market Size and Forecast and Segment Performance: Total retail sales based on Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews; US Census Bureau, Economic Census; Convenience Store News; Automatic Merchandiser’s “State of the Vending Industry Report”

  • Retail Channels - based on Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews; U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census; Convenience Store News; Automatic Merchandiser’s “State of the Vending Industry Report”; except supermarket and drug store sales, which are based on Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews.

  • Leading Companies and Brand Shares based on MULO sales data from Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews. MULO is defined as Multi Outlet, representative of the following channels: Total U.S. Grocery, Mass, Total U.S. Drug, Total Walmart, Dollar, Military, and Club

Consumer survey data

For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive consumer research through GMI to explore consumer purchase, personal consumption, and attitudes toward carbonated soft drinks. Mintel was responsible for the survey design, data analysis and reporting. Fieldwork was conducted in April 2014 among a sample of 2,000 US adults aged 18+ with access to the internet.

Mintel selects survey respondents so that they are proportionally balanced to the entire US adult population based on the key demographics of gender, age, household income, and region. Mintel also slightly oversamples, relative to the population, respondents that are Hispanic or Black to ensure an adequate representation of these groups in the survey results. Please note that Mintel surveys are conducted online and in English only. Hispanics who are not online and/or do not speak English are not included in the survey results.

Mintel has also analyzed data from Experian Marketing Services, using the Simmons NCS (National Consumer Study), the Simmons NHCS (National Hispanic Consumer Study), the Simmons NCS Teen Study, and the Simmons NCS Kids Study.

The Experian Marketing Services, Simmons NCS/NHCS was carried out during November 2012-December 2013 and the results are based on the sample of 12,566 adults aged 18+, with results weighted to represent the US adult population. The Experian Marketing Services, Simmons NCS Teen Study was conducted during November 2012-December 2013 and based on a sample of 1,164 teenagers aged 12-17, with results weighted to represent the US teen population. The Experian Marketing Services, Simmons NCS Kids Study was conducted during November 2012-December 2013 and based on a sample of 1,577 kids aged 6-11, with results weighted to represent the US kid population.

While race and Hispanic origin are separate demographic characteristics, Mintel often compares them to each other. Please note that the responses for race (White, Black, Asian, Native American, or other race) will overlap those that also are Hispanic, because Hispanics can be of any race.

Abbreviations and terms


The following is a list of abbreviations used in this report.

CPI Consumer Price Index
GNPD Global New Products Database
MULO Multi Outlet, representative of following channels: Total US Grocery, Mass, Total US Drug, Total Walmart, Dollar, Military and Club
NCS/NHCS National Consumer Study/National Hispanic Consumer Study (Experian Marketing Services)
rsp Retail selling price


Generations are discussed within this report, and they are defined as:

World War II/Swing generations Members of the WWII generation were born in 1932 or before and are aged 82 or older in 2014. Members of the Swing Generation were born from 1933-45 and are aged 69-81 in 2014.
Baby Boomers The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2014, Baby Boomers are between the ages of 50 and 68.
Generation X The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2014, Gen Xers are between the ages of 38 and 49.
Millennials* Born between 1977 and 1994, Millennials are aged 20 to 37 in 2014.
iGeneration Born between 1995 and 2007, members of iGen are aged 7 to 19 in 2014.
Emerging generation The newest generation began in 2008 as the annual number of births declined sharply with the recession. In 2014 members of this as-yet unnamed generation are under age 7.

* also known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers

In order to provide an inflation-adjusted price value for markets, Mintel uses the CPI to deflate current prices. The CPI is defined as follows:

CPI The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

The CPI and its components are typically used to adjust other economic series for price changes and to translate these series into inflation-free dollars. Examples of series adjusted by the CPI include retail sales, hourly and weekly earnings, and components of the national income and product accounts. In addition, and in Mintel reports, the CPI is used as a deflator of the value of the consumer’s dollar to find its purchasing power. The purchasing power of the consumer's dollar measures the change in the value to the consumer of goods and services that a dollar will buy at different dates.

The CPI is generally the best measure for adjusting payments to consumers when the intent is to allow consumers to purchase, at today’s prices, a market basket of goods and services equivalent to one that they could purchase in an earlier period. It is also the best measure to use to translate retail sales into real or inflation-free dollars.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics definition.

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