What Do Product Managers Have To Do To Win The At-Home Soda Wars?

by drjim on June 27, 2016

Sodastream is facing some serious competition, what should their product managers do?

Sodastream is facing some serious competition, what should their product managers do?
Image Credit: Jenny

I believe that I drink too much soda every day. Due to the fact that I live in America, the land of excess, I can easily drink over 104oz (roughly 3 liters) of the stuff a day. My sofa of choice is Coke 0 which means that I’m probably not getting any calories or any carbs, but still, there is no way that drinking that much of anything can be good for you. Anyone who drinks soda knows something else, there is a cost associated with buying and drinking a lot of soda. If only there was some way for us to enjoy our soda but do so at a cheaper price…

Say Hello To SodaStream

The good folks at SodaStream invented to “make soda at home market”. The way that their system works is that you purchase their soda making system. It comes with a CO2 canister and a set of sample soda flavorings. You add your own water, carbonate it, and then dump in some soda flavoring. Ta-da! You’ve just made your own soda at home for a much lower price and with very little waste. The SodaStream product managers created a simple and effective product development definition.

The SodaStream product managers realize that the novelty of creating a soda at home will wear off quickly unless they find a way to keep their customers entertained. In order to make this happen, they’ve been focused on trying to come up with new flavors of soda that people can’t get anywhere else. In order to make this happen, they’ve hired a two-star Michelin chef (a very big deal) to create new flavors for them like raspberry lychee rose.

The SodaStream product managers are not resting there. What they are trying to do is to take a look at their product, determine where it is difficult to use, and then take steps to eliminate those difficulties. One area that they’ve identified as causing their customers grief is the need to always be purchasing new CO2 cylinders. This is why they are planning on introducing a new service where a local vendor will visit customer’s homes and exchange new CO2 cylinders for used ones. Problem solved for the customer. This type of innovation always looks good on the product manager resume.

SodaStream Feels The Heat Of Competition

SodaStream’s biggest problem is that they’ve been just a little bit too successful. What this means is that they have attracted some serious competition who are planning on launching their own at home soda making solutions in the near future.

One of the best known names in the area of home brewed coffee, Keurig, is getting ready to enter into the home soda market. Just by themselves, Keurig would be a formidable competitor based on their success in the market for individual serving cups of coffee. However, Keurig has gone ahead and partnered with Coke-Cola which now makes them even more formidable. SodaStream is trying to fight back by introducing a novel new product that creates cocktails and another that can make hot or cold drinks; however, neither of these products will be available for several months.

If the SodaStream product managers try to go head-to-head with Keurig and Coke-Cola, they’ll probably lose. Both of those firms have deep pockets and clever product designers. Instead, SodaStream is going to have to find a different way to present what their product can do and make it unique. To this end, the SodaStream product managers are in the midst of launching a “Waters Line” that consists of low calorie naturally sweetened flavors like “lime basil” and “yuzu mandarin”.

What All Of This Means For You

The good news for SodaStream is that they have been very successful in the past. The bad news is that at least in the U.S., a lot of people are starting to drink a lot less soda no matter where it comes from. What the SodaStream product managers product manager job description tells them that they need to do is to find a way to reposition their successful product.

SodaStream made their name by creating a system that made it easy for customers to create their own soda at home. However, their success has attracted other firms, including coffee maker giant Keurig and their partner Coke-Cola, to enter the market. This means that the SodaStream product managers need to move quickly and redefine their product in a way that the new market entrants can’t compete with.

I believe that the SodaStream product managers have a good shot at being successful. They may need to consider renaming their product at some point in time if they stray too far from their roots. However, people are always drinking something and if SodaStream can convince us that their system makes it easy for us to create what we want to drink when we want to drink it, then they’ll do just fine.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that SodaStream should still offer soda flavors or should they exit that market?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just when you thought that being a product manager couldn’t get any tougher, it just did. So I’m pretty sure that by now you’ve hear about “conflict diamonds”. These are diamonds that are mined in parts of Africa where there are ongoing wars. The bad guys sell the diamonds to fund their wars. People have been instructed to not buy conflict diamonds in order to prevent the bad guys from keeping the wars going. Well guess what, there’s something else that we shouldn’t be buying – conflict minerals.

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