How emotional insights helped Dr Pepper gain double digit growth.


The Dr Pepper team had tried various approaches, but still couldn’t understand why this was the case

The Marketing Clinic investigated the emotional journey of the brand lovers, haters, and of the occasional drinkers. We soon identified that the occasional drinkers were the odd ones out. But how?

Both the lovers and haters will drink Dr Pepper a little more slowly than the occasional drinkers. This meant that as they drank it the beverage spent just slightly more time in the mouth than it did for the occasional drinkers.

As the drink lingered in the consumer’s mouth they had time to appreciate the complexity of the 23 flavours. This complexity, the depth and breadth of flavour of the 23 herbs and spices, evoked a definite opinion from the consumer. They either loved it or hated it.

On the other hand, the undecided consumers were in fact drinking Dr Pepper much faster. They did not allow the drink any dwell time in their mouth and swallowed it quickly. These consumers were not experiencing the full complexity of its flavours and thus developed no strong opinion of the drink. In fact, more often they were mystified by the whole love/hate debate… They were ambivalent, “It’s okay but it’s nothing special” was the general feedback. Until they were asked to take a little more time over the drink, to drink it more slowly, then they suddenly developed a much stronger opinion.

So how did this emotional insight help the marketing team?

This discovery, understanding the emotional journey of the consumers and how it was delivered led to a $35 million communications campaign… “Drink it slow”… Featuring celebrities such as Dr. Dre,(Dr Slow) Julius “Dr. J” ErvingGene Simmons… all urging the consumer to “slow down”.

This campaign was credited with driving a double-figure growth in sales and encouraging more consumers off the fence, some decided they hated Dr Pepper, but many more decided they loved it and started drinking it considerably more often.

Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Understanding the connections between the consumer experience and emotional responses.