Canstar Blue’s inaugural cola review has seen Pepsi Max, Coca-Cola, Coke No Sugar, Pepsi, Diet Coke and Coles compared on taste, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Cola is soda-licious! In fact, a recent Canstar Blue survey found that it’s Aussies’ favourite soft drink flavour before lemonade and ginger ale. Besides the everlasting debate over Coca-Cola versus Pepsi and which is better than the other, everyone can agree that cola is a refreshment like no other. But if you’re still unsure which cola product or brand is best, don’t stress. We’ve done the research to find out which colas fizzle and which fall flat.
We asked over 1,000 Aussie consumers to rate the different products and brands of carbonated cola they’ve purchased from a supermarket or grocer and consumed within the last three months. Survey respondents rated products independently on important factors like taste, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction. Those which met the minimum required survey sample size (30 responses) are included in the results.
Our 2020 cola review featured six different cola products from the leading brands, but only one was rated best – Pepsi Max! It scored maximum five-star ratings in all research categories, including taste and overall satisfaction.
Here are the best cola brands in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2020 review:
Pepsi Max fizzled to the top of our ratings to take out the title of best cola product for 2020. Aussies scored Pepsi Max five stars across the board for taste, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction. Surprisingly, Coca-Cola’s only five-star rating was for packaging design, scoring four stars for taste and overall satisfaction, with three stars on value. Meanwhile, Coles received the only other five-star rating this year, on value for money, but achieved just three stars for taste, along with Diet Coke.
Altogether, Coca-Cola and Coke No Sugar landed on four stars for overall satisfaction, while Pepsi, Diet Coke and Coles fell flat on three stars overall.
Pepsi Max is the low-calorie, sugar-free version of classic Pepsi. It’s crisp, refreshing and marketed as offering ‘max taste, no sugar’ and if our survey results are anything to go by, Aussies definitely agree. Pepsi Max comes in a few different flavours, including:
Prices for a Pepsi Max 1.25L bottle start from $2.35 in most supermarkets, though you can often pick up the 2L bottle variety for even less ($2.10). Supermarkets work in mysterious ways!
Everyone knows the taste of Coca-Cola. That’s why the recipe for the classic Coca-Cola has remained unchanged for more than 130 years. Coca-Cola comes in a wide range of original and limited edition flavours and also as an energy drink for that extra caffeine hit. Some Coca-Cola products include:
A 1.25L bottle of Coca-Cola costs about $3.15 from most supermarkets, but like with Pepsi Max, you can often pick up a larger bottle for less!
Coke No Sugar offers (nearly) the same classic Coca-Cola taste but without the… sugar, duh! Instead, it’s sweetened with the same sugar alternatives as Coke Zero and Diet Coke. Coke No Sugar products include:
A 1.25L bottle of Coke No Sugar can cost about $3.15 from most supermarkets.
Pepsi is one of the most recognisable brands globally, thanks to its distinctive blue labelling, original taste and iconic marketing campaigns throughout the years. It’s long been a popular refreshment for any shindig and meals with friends. The Pepsi range includes:
Prices for a 1.25L bottle of Pepsi start from $2.35 in most supermarkets.
Supermarket giant Coles has its own budget range of colas aptly labelled Coles Cola. Products from the range are markedly cheaper than soft drinks from the other brands. ‘Coles Cola’ only offers two product options:
A 1.25L bottle of Coles Cola costs only 90 cents from Coles supermarkets.
Diet Coke, sometimes also referred to as Coca-Cola Light, delivers a distinctively unique and lighter taste to classic Coca-Cola. It’s sugar-free and contains next to zero calories. Products include:
A 1.25L bottle of Diet Coke costs about $3.10 from any supermarket.
Ahh that’s a question for the ages. As expected, our survey found that taste is the biggest driver of satisfaction for cola consumers, followed by value for money. So, you’ll want to consider whether you prefer a cola with bolder notes of vanilla, cinnamon and citrus, or if you’re more attuned to sweeter cola syrupy flavours. The general consensus is that Coca-Cola products are distinctively bolder in taste, while Pepsi products and supermarket cola brands are usually sweeter in flavour.
Don’t forget though that cola syrups and soft drinks more broadly are high in sugars. So, if you’re looking after your waistline, you may want to opt for zero sugar or ‘light’ cola products. Look at the nutritional information label of different products and check out the calories per serve as well as the ratio of sugars and sweeteners, to food acids and carbonated water.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased (from a supermarket or grocer) and consumed carbonated colas in the last three months– in this case, 1,175 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.