According to a Gallup poll released Monday, 63% of Americans actively avoid drinking soda. The tendency to stay away from the sugary beverages has been steadily rising since Gallup started polling people about their dieting choices in 2002, at which time only 41% of Americans reported distancing themselves from soft drinks.
The new Gallup data is an obvious headache for soda brands. The companies that own the major old guard soda brands will probably be fine, as they also own an alarmingly vast amount of products you probably consume everyday (take a look here at full Coca-Cola and PepsiCo product lines.) But as the sugary soft drink falls out of favor with a more health-conscious public, soda brands need to find new ways to remain relevant.
Coca-Cola announced one such effort to start conversations about its brand this week, introducing its Tweet A Coke program which invites Twitter users to send $5 Cokes to friends via the micromessaging service. Beverages sent via the Tweet A Coke program are redeemable at Regal Cinemas, which has partnered with Coca-Cola on the initiative.
The new program is a very similar to a program Starbucks started in October that lets users send gifts of coffee and other products via Twitter. According to Mashable, that program has been very successful, with Twitter users sending more than $180,000 worth of Starbucks to each other since the program began.
Tweet A Coke probably won't save the soft drink industry, but we can't knock them for trying (even if all they did was just copy Starbucks.) From a messaging and outreach perspective, the new program represents yet another attempt by a major brand to tap into the power and popularity of social media.
Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bwilliamgreene