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Developing A Marketing Message: A Case Study Of Dr Pepper TEN’s Target Market

Creating a company or product’s marketing message can be daunting, but if you think in terms of everyday conversations, it may be an easier task to tackle. When developing marketing message, whether it is for a brochure, an advertisement, a website or even a social media post, the first thing to think about is who you are trying to target. In other words, what you say is largely determined by whom you are trying to say it to in order to create a message that will inspire them to buy.

A case study: Dr Pepper TEN

Last year’s marketing campaign promoting Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s new low-calorie drink, Dr Pepper TEN, took a leap and specifically targeted men instead of women. While diet drink companies have attempted this before, research showed that women still outnumber men in diet-drink purchasing. Dr Pepper recognized that men are less likely to choose diet sodas because they aren’t perceived as manly. So why launch the macho campaign with the headline, “It’s Not for Women”?

The target market

Marketers will typically break target markets into groups like male/female, ages 25 – 55, income of $75,000 per year or more, with children or without. Honing in on statistical data and behaviors (or psychographics) helps determine who a potential customer is, what they like to do, and how they like to communicate.

In the case of Dr Pepper, going after the male market was an effort to expand its market share in a product segment that is shrinking. As U.S. consumers continue to cut their soda consumption by opting for healthier drink selections like flavored waters and juice, Dr Pepper cooked up a new low-calorie recipe offering 10 calories and two grams of sugar to keep it relatively healthy, while claiming to be more flavorful than other diet drinks. Making an appeal to men, they hoped to increase sales and gain new customers.

Speaking to multiple markets

In most cases, a company or product may be targeting multiple markets, and as a result, the message may center on one main target but offer an appeal to others. Think of the Bud Light or AXE ads. Like Dr Pepper TEN, they are targeting men; but the humor in the ads also appeals to women.

Focusing an entire marketing campaign with a message directed to one market can pose a real risk. The Dr Pepper TEN campaign, which showed men running through jungles, leaping boulders and watching football, aggressively conveyed that women were not welcome, despite the fact that women represent 50.8 percent of the purchasing public.

Dr Pepper TEN ads aired on all major networks that are heavily watched by males, including FX and ESPN during college football games. The company also created a Facebook page for the drink, which contained an application that allowed fans to exclude women from viewing content, as well as games and videos geared to men.

The decision to ignore women, especially when they make a large majority of purchasing decisions, initially proved to be a mistake.

Immediately following the launch of the campaign, there was a large backlash and a glut of publicity bashing the company for ostracizing women. An article published in Smart Money titled “Angry Women Is Not What Dr Pepper Ordered” said the “for men only campaign backfired with both sexes.” It went on to say that, “The campaign appears to have driven women’s perception of Dr Pepper down, which may have an adverse effect on the overall brand’s sales of a product like Diet Dr Pepper.”

If a marketing campaign is supposed to attract attention, experts can agree that Dr Pepper achieved that. In the days and weeks after the campaign aired, every major media outlet was writing and talking about it. Despite the barrage of negative media coverage or because of it, the product and its campaign proved to be successful. According to Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s annual report published in March 2012, “in the first three months of national distribution, trial rates for Dr Pepper TEN were nearly nine percent, significantly above other new innovation launches.” The report also went on to state, “the great taste of Dr Pepper TEN, which is targeted at men who don’t like the image of diet beverages, has resulted in consumers – male and female – asking for more TEN options.”

Fast forward just one year after the “It’s Not for Women” campaign launched, an article appearing in October 2012 in the Wall Street Journal discusses disappointing overall sales for the company with a drop in five of the company’s six soda brands. The bright spot that showed growth ― Dr Pepper TEN.

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