People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Better Versions of Themselves

Zander Nethercutt

What Apple, Samsung, and Starbucks learned from Pepsi

Photo byJohn FornanderonUnsplash

The year was 1957, and Pepsi — like many of the youth at that time — was dealing with an identity crisis. Despite efforts from marketers, Pepsi was being outsold by its biggest competitor and perpetual market leader — Coke — by a factor just shy of six to one, even as it was selling at half of Coke’s price. It wasn’t the product that was lacking, it was that Pepsi’s brand ethos — indecisive and directionless — was a fragmented shell of what it would need to become to take on Coke.

At the time, Coke was unrivaled, having succeeded in convincing the American public that they’d captured everything good and wholesome about American life within the murky confines of a glass bottle. This clear transcendence of the competition was not unlike Apple’s; like devotees react viscerally to a green speech bubble in iMessage, so too…

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