Beverage Giant Unveils the Pepsi P1 but the victory could be short lived.
Pepsi tries to take product branding to a weird level by launching a product that has absolutely nothing to do with its features offerings; a Smartphone. Yes, you read right; a brand that is known for one of the most popular aerated drinks (read NOT electronics) just stepped into the realm of Smart technologies. Dubbed the Pepsi PIs, the phone was recently launched in China. However, some skeptics believe that the beverage brand’s foray into Smart tech could be short lived. Is Pepsi’s new venture set to fizzle before it takes off? This blogger definitely seems to think so.
I will be honest; if an internationally acclaimed brand that is renowned for anything but Smartphones launches one nowhere else but in China, it is apt to raise some eyebrows. Mine went up north instantly especially since the brand just entered space that has seen more than its fair share of entrants.
We have 4 panelists today all of whom will be discussing how Pepsi’s venture into the Smartphone is liable to blow up in the brand’s face. It doesn’t seem that the beverage company’s latest release will gain traction anywhere else besides China.
Here is what today’s panel has to say about Pepsi’s new foray –
Young opines that, “Such a bandwagon approach is quite typical for China, where local companies are always quick to join the latest trends even if they have little or no experience in the business. But foreign names are a little savvier, and this particular instance was the first I could recall of a major foreign brand joining this kind of silly herd mentality that often ends in failure and big losses for the associated company.”
The launch of the Smartphone already had already started making people apprehensive over the sense of it all. A previous post from The Washington Post from Todd C. Frankel is skeptical whether a company that is “…best known for chips and soda” will appeal to Chinese consumers enough to make a profit.
The Pepsi P1 comes with the standard bells and whistles that most Smartphones already feature –
- A 5.5 inch curved glass display
- 13 megapixel camera
- Android Lollipop 16GB internal memory
Big whoop; so does every other popular Smartphone especially when it comes to brands such as Android and Samsung. In fact, one would think why a brand that specializes in everyone’s favorite fizzy drink would hope to compete with Smartphone giants, Android and Samsung. As Frankel quotes personal technologies analyst from research group Gartner Tuong Nguyen who says that the mobile market is “…basically Apple, Samsung and then you have everybody else….Because it’s such a competitive market, it’s hard to make money….Regardless of the power of the Pepsi brand, it’s going to be tough.”
Some critics like Adam Probolsky were already skeptical about the Pepsi’s venture into Smartphones before the Pepsi P1 was even launched –
— Adam Probolsky (@AdamProbolsky) October 13, 2015
A Nifty Logo Isn’t Going To Save It
The phone might attract brand advocates that are loyal to all things Pepsi. This is especially when it comes to fans on the lookout for nifty collector’s items that may or may not be worth something in the not so distant future. However, that is where the appeal comes to a screeching halt.
The new Smartphone is a low cost affair which isn’t surprising since it is a crowd funding project on China’s JD.com. The early price is set at $110 which is roughly 700 Yuan. This begs the question; why would anyone in their right mind think of buying a phone that has the same features as other crowded phones that are available for less than what Pepsi is selling it for and that cost less?
The launch is baffling to say the least especially China isn’t exactly suffering from a shortage of Smartphone manufacturers in the first place. This is what Devindra Hardawar opines in his blog when news about the brand’s intention to enter the Smartphone market initially came out –
“In today’s edition of baffling corporate branding decisions, Pepsi has confirmed plans to launch smartphones…The company made it clear that it won’t be manufacturing the phones, instead it’ll be licensing its brand to a partner (there’s really no shortage of phone makers in China)….For the most part, it looks like an unremarkable mid-range Android phablet….”
Let’s get one aspect straight. The mobile market is not new to Smartphones. In fact, it is practically inundated with it. Granted, the Pepsi P1 does boast of a few features that would make brand aficianados and Chinese consumers who swear by the brand wait in anticipation for its launch; however, when it comes to aspects such as continuity, it falls short as compared to established Smartphone brands like Samsung and Apple.
Why Is It Doomed?
The bottom line is, Pepsi should stick with what it does best like other brands of the type like Coca Cola. While the brand’s fiercest competitor took product branding into a whole other level with its foray into logo less branding, it still managed to stay true to its signature product.
And it seems that Pepsi’s representatives recognize this too as the brand has absolutely no plans to launch the phone anywhere else besides China. In fact, spokesperson from PepsiCo Aurora Gonzales states, “Pepsi has no plans to get into the mobile manufacturing business.” This statement came when Pepsi announced its plan to launch a Smartphone in early October of this year. Let’s just say that representatives are leaving no question as to a possible expansion into the market.
— Funabridged (@funabridged) November 23, 2015
It seems kind of obvious that Pepsi is playing the brand card when it comes to the supposed appeal of the P1. While the gimmick might pay off with fans at first, its success might be short lived if the brand fails to provide upgraded versions of the phone in consecutive years. And if Pepsi’s own stance on the venture, consumer behavior on the web and social media are any indication it seems that this won’t be happening any time soon.