Coca-Cola's quarterly sales are up — and this sneaky marketing trick is one reason why


Coke Zero? More like Coke hero... at least as far as third-quarter earnings are concerned: Coca-Cola beat Wall Street analysts' expectations this past quarter with a revenue of $10.6 billion, the company announced Wednesday.

One irony is that the outperformance was in part helped by the war on sugar

Sports drinks — which are perceived as healthier than soda, even if they're sugary — and water helped boost the company's non-bubbly beverage sales by 3%.

And Coca-Cola has continued to reap benefits of a clever strategy, introduced in 2007, to cater to health-conscious customers: their 7.5-ounce "mini cans." Indeed, smaller packaging means the company profits more on each can or small bottle sold.

Matt Rourke/AP

You know how your mom always told you you'll save money if you buy in bulk (hello, 24-pack of Costco toilet paper)? Coca-Cola's trick works because the reverse is true too: You pay more for less — but you probably don't notice because you're doing it one little bit at a time. 

In recent years, as the world has become more anti-sugar, Coca-Cola has reversed its strategy of trying to get people to buy huge plastic soda bottles: It is putting more effort into selling its "adorable" teeny-tiny cans and glass bottles.

One possible reason this plan is paying off?

Smaller packaging actually causes people to consume more soda than they otherwise would, according to one study: Researchers found that subjects bought significantly more pop if their options included bundles of smaller drink sizes instead of just big single-serve sizes.

Finally, if the impact of small soda cans on your health — and wallet — doesn't worry you, think of the environment: Smaller packaging is harder to recycle.