Saturday, July 2, 2016

Walmart Observations: The seasonality of soft drinks and water

This is a continuation of my last Walmart observation piece. Today I will simply discuss soft drinks and water sales at my local Walmart. For the sake of simplicity I'm merging everything not water into "soft drinks." So vitamin water, orange juice, etc are all "soft drinks"

1) Best Sellers: KO, DPS, PEP, generics

At my Walmart the brand we sell out the most is KO. It goes Coke, Sprite, Simply Orange, Minute Maid, Vitamin water, and then everything else.

DPS is our second best soft drink seller. It goes Dr Pepper 10, Diet Dr Pepper, Dr Pepper regular, Snapple, and then everything else. While KO wins by pure volume of different brands Dr Pepper wins by sheer loyalty.

PEP is our third best soft drink seller. Strangely it goes Mountain Dew, Starbucks ice coffee (SBUX), Naked juice, Pepsi, Gatorade, and then everything else.

Our final best sellers are the generics like "mountain lightning", Dr Thunder, and just Cola. My favorite is actually a brand simply called "Root Beer."  

2) Size: 2 liters, 36/12/24 pack, 6 pack bottle, and 6 packs

Our best sellers are the 2 liters bottles. Why? Because they are always on sell and cheap. 99 cents per bottle is a great deal for any school party or work event. Note this is great for KO, PEP, and generics. DPS don't sell much in term of 2 liters for some reason.

Our second best sellers are the 36 packs, then our 12 packs, and finally our 24 packs of can sodas in this order...for some reason. This group is predominately controlled by Dr Pepper drinkers. One thing I learned about our Dr Pepper drinkers in Nebraska is their obsession with this drink especially the Dr Pepper 10. They do not buy a two-liter but always a 36 can pack. Is this the same for the rest of the country?

The 12 packs are predominately controlled by KO and PEP.  The 24 packs are predominately controlled by Mountain Dew (PEP). Again these are my observations. I don't know why such things occur.

3) Soda sales rises around holidays and "winter events", disappears during spring and fall, skyrockets during summer.

Soda consumption is odd. There will always be people drinking every day/week but the majority are on a cicada-like consumption pattern. If there is a holiday (doesn't matter what), soda consumption will always increase. Christmas, veterans day, Easter, Valentines's day, President day, New Years, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc. These holidays cause soda sell to increase. By "winter holidays" I mean football. Soda increases during Football season. Not baseball, Basketball, soccer, etc but Football season.

Unless there's a holiday, Spring and Fall are our worst soda seasons. For some reason the cooler the weather the less likely people are willing to drink sodas. The same could be said for non-holiday and non-football weeks during winter. Approximately the 2nd week of January up until Valentine's day.

The complete opposite is true about Summer. As the weather gets hotter soda sales skyrockets. Earlier this year my local area hit 104 Heat Index and we were selling out sodas by the hours. During hot seasons sprite is the main choice among the consumers (KO).

4) Water consumption is outpacing soda sales.

As a general trend at my Walmart, water bottles sell a lot better than sodas. Whereas sodas are rewards, water is more of an every day consumption thing. Women and moms tend to buy water while men and dads tend to buy sodas. This year in March water outsold sodas.

5) water sales increase in hot summer months and school season.

As the days become longer and hotter our water sales increase exponentially. It's very common to see a cooler, a bag of ice, and a 35 water bottle pack on a 100+ degree day.

Water is always steady during school season. From August to May water flies out the door. Especially during sports seasons (baseball, football, basketball etc). Our biggest sales occurs during Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I think these are the competition days.

6) Water is normally bought in bulk.

35 bottle packs, 40 small bottle packs, and 24 bottle packs are our biggest sellers. Jugs of water are normally bought by pregnant women and the elderly. The small six bottle packs are normally bought by ring-less adults (I'm assuming single). In general water is normally sold in bulk.

7) Price over Loyalty

Unlike KO, PEP, and DPS sodas; consumers have no water loyalty. From what I've seen it's all based on the sell this week. For example this week they have a sell for 24 bottles of DASANI (KO) for $4.00. Normally it sales for $6.99. Those DASANI bottles are flying off the shelves. Last week it was Aquafina (PEP) and those were flying off the shelves. I don't see a loyalty building around water. Consumer wants the cheapest water possible.  

Except when it comes to the high end flavored water brands such as Perrier (NESTLE) and Lacroix (FIZZ). But these sales pale in comparison to the unflavored water bottles.

Disclaimer: these are just my observation working at Walmart. These are not official numbers.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I will watch DPS a bit more now. It has always been on my watch list, but I skip over it in favor of KO and PEP.

    1. hey D4s. I'm still working on the toothpaste thing. But I agree with you I would love 100 shares of DPS at the right price. People talk a lot about the sugar tax but with the way PEP and KO have been diversifying lately I don't see either of them skipping a beat.

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