Visualizing Soft Drink Industry Structure
Head to the nearest supermarket or quick-stop and you’ll see the walls of freezer cabinets stacked to the brim with teas, soft drinks, and waters. Some interesting visualizations from Philip H. Howard show how all of the variety is merely in your own perception, with most of the actual product tracing back to 3 big firms.
Three firms control 89% of US soft drink sales . This dominance is obscured from us by the appearance of numerous choices on retailer shelves. Steve Hannaford refers to this as “pseudovariety,” or the illusion of diversity, concealing a lack of real choice . To visualize the extent of pseudovariety in this industry we developed a cluster diagram to represent the number of soft drink brands and varieties found in the refrigerator cases of 94 Michigan retailers, along with their ownership and/or licensing connections.