Beverage Industry

Customer satisfaction survey rates CSDs and beer

October 16, 2012

Customer satisfaction toward purchases in the soft drink and beer categories remained relatively stable in the last year, with both segments showing approximately a 1 percent decrease in scores compared with the previous year, according to a study by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Ann Arbor, Mich.

The soft drink industry is maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction in 2012, despite a small downturn of 1.2 percent to 84 points on a scale of 0 to 100. As some consumers opt for more noncarbonated offerings like ready-to-drink teas, the major producers of CSDs are doing a good job of innovating to keep pace with changing preferences, the report states.

“Overall, carbonated soft drink consumption declined 1 percent in 2011, but this has less to do with customer satisfaction than with a shift in consumer preference prompted by growing health concerns about sugary sodas,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and author of “The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference,” in a statement. “… [M]ajor firms are responding by investing in other types of beverages in apparent recognition of the market challenges that lie ahead.”

Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Co. and Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo both showed slight 1 percent downturns to 84 points and remained deadlocked for customer satisfaction for a third straight year, the report states. The aggregate of smaller manufacturers matches the market-share leaders, up 1 percent to 84 points, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Plano, Texas, gained 6 percent reaching an ACSI score of 87 and jumped into the lead.

“Nearly two decades of ACSI data show that companies with high satisfaction tend to do better in terms of profit and stock value compared with those with lower ACSI scores,” Fornell said in a statement. “At 87, Dr Pepper Snapple is close to the top of the index overall, concurrent with its stock price reaching an all-time high over the past year.”

Beer makers face shrinking sales as well, with overall consumption down 2 percent in 2011, the report states. The industry’s score slipped 1.2 percent to 81 points, which is average for brewers during the time period, it adds. Higher prices and a weak economy prove challenging for major brewers, but smaller craft and specialty segment brewers have shown promising market results, the report states. ACSI results show the aggregation of smaller niche brands holding on to their industry lead for 2012, stable for the seventh year in a row at an ACSI score of 83 points.

This year, the combined U.S. operations of SABMiller and Molson Coors, known as MillerCoors, Chicago, earned an ACSI score of 81 points. Last year, Miller alone had an ACSI score of 84. The lower score for the MillerCoors joint venture might reflect the higher prices commanded by Coors products, the report suggests. Stable at 81 points, Anheuser-Busch InBev, New York, tied MillerCoors this year.