Coke and Pepsi are relying on an unexpected group to boost sales

If you have kids, you’re more likely to buy soda.

That might sound counterintuitive, given all that we know about how bad soda is for people — especially kids.

But according to retail sales data collected by Nielsen over the last year, families with teenage children spent 27% more per household on soda than the average household. The difference was even wider for non-diet soda — families with teenagers spent 40% more than the general average.

“I definitely do see that households that have teenagers, and children in general but especially teenagers, [spend more] when it comes to soft drinks,” Jordan Rost, Nielsen’s vice president of consumer insights, told Business Insider. “More so than age, it really does have to do if there are children in the household.”

Having children provides an immediate boost in a household’s non-diet soft drink purchasing. Households with no children spend 9% less on soft drinks than the general population. A family with kids sees soda spending increase, on average, as the kids gets get older.

The higher-than-average consumption doesn’t just apply to soda. In fact, households with teenagers drink more than their fair share of beverages across the board.

Households with teens drank 38% more energy drinks, 40% more enhanced water, and 25% more instant tea than could be expected for the group.

“There’s so much greater choice that teenagers have,” say Rost. “Everything from energy drinks to enhanced waters… all those things [are more popular] among those same households. I think it speaks more to the audience than even the beverage themselves.”

Bottled, ready-to-drink beverages provide convenience to busy families with teenage children. Rost says that, increasingly, people are using beverages as substitutes for snacks, something that particularly appeals to parents attempting to keep up with teen appetites.

As soda sales overall continue to fall, the reliance on families with kids are becoming all the more important to giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Per capita soda sales have dropped
25% since 1998, and the total volume of soda consumed in the US dropped 1.2% in 2015. Both Coke and Pepsi are investing in beverages like tea, energy drinks, and juices — all drinks that families with teenagers are eagerly buying.

Households that make more than $100,000 a year are buying the least amount of non-diet soft drinks (only 75% of what could be expected). Households making under $20,000 a year spend 12% more on regular soda sales than the general population, and those making $20,000 to $29,999 spend 21% more.

It is no secret that the soda industry targets black and Latino communities. But according to Nielsen’s data, minority households actually buy less soda than white households. While white households buy 8% more soft drinks than the average expected amount in households across all races, Hispanic households buy 13% less and black households buy 29% less. Asian-American households only purchase about half of what could be expected, falling short by 47%.

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