The News Chair

Soda, pop or Coke?

February 24, 2012 by Christopher Lloyd

Just the other day, I was having the discussion with another Coles team member about what people call their carbonated beverage. He didn’t quite believe me when I told him that in Florida where I grew up, many people refer to all soft drinks as “Coke.” As in, “What kind of Coke do you want? Pepsi? Mountain Dew? Ginger Ale?”

I explained that because the Coca-Cola company is such a major force in Georgia and the rest of the South, Coke has become a generic term for all sodas. It’s much the same way as when people say “Xerox” when they mean photocopy.

Now this great map is out from East Central University in Oklahoma that shows how these terms vary regionally. In the Pacific Northwest and most of the Midwest, they say “pop” for carbonated beverage. In the Northeast, D.C. Beltway and Southwest they say “soda.”

And, despite my colleague’s doubts, you can see that “Coke” is indeed the preferred term in much of the traditional South and Texas.

Other than being incredibly cool, the map shows how much markets can vary from place to place. So if you are marketing soft drinks in Atlanta, you should consider different terminology than for selling in Boston or Chicago.

Part of knowing your local markets is understanding the way people think and talk.

Just some food for thought. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get a Coke out of the company fridge … think I’ll have a Sprite.