Earlier last week, Coca-Cola reported its latest earnings with a big smile, boasting that global soft drink volume sales rose in the last three months of 2015.
The news suggests things might not be as bad as they seem in the soft drink universe — even in the United States, the largest market in the world, where Coca-Cola has seen its sales plummet amid a growing distaste for carbonated drinks.
But it’s also a testament to the success of a clever little trick the industry has adopted in tough times: selling its product in smaller packages.
For decades, soft drink makers nudged people to drink more with ever-larger cans, bottles, and cups – much like the fast-food industry when it supersized servings. That strategy, however, has failed in recent years, as the narrative about the harms of drinking sugary drinks has intensified. So they have opted to do the opposite, shipping carbonated drinks out in smaller servings in hopes it will make soft drinks sexy again.