Coke and Pepsi are relying on an unexpected group to boost sales

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Mouthwatering Facts About Pepsi

If you have kids, you're more likely to buy soda.

That might sound counterintuitive, given all that we know about how bad soda is for people — especially kids.

But according to retail sales data collected by Nielsen over the last year, families with teenage children spent 27% more per household on soda than the average household. The difference was even wider for non-diet soda — families with teenagers spent 40% more than the general average.

"I definitely do see that households that have teenagers, and children in general but especially teenagers, [spend more] when it comes to soft drinks," Jordan Rost, Nielsen's vice president of consumer insights, told Business Insider. "More so than age, it really does have to do if there are children in the household."

See the transformation of Coca-Cola over the years:

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Coca-Cola through the years, Coke soda
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Coca-Cola through the years, Coke soda
The Atlanta based Coca-Cola Co., announced in New York Tuesday April 23, 1985 file photo a change in the 99 year old secret formula for the soft drink. This collection details the history of shapes of the soft drink's bottles. Sold at fountains in Atlanta at the start it was first bottled in Vicksburg, Mississippi. (AP Photo)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s: Teenaged girl with bottle of Coca-Cola. (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) *23.03.1912-16.06.1977+Physiker, Raketenforscher, D/USA- Porträt mit Coca-Cola-Flasche- 1963 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
The bottles of Coca-Cola are shown May 5, 1986. (AP Photo/Joe Holloway, Jr.)
FRANCE - MAY 01: Centenary of Coca-Cola In France In May, 1986. (Photo by Didier CONTANT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
The bottle used by Coca-Cola for export to France, stands by the prototype of the very first Coke bottle shown May 5, 1986 in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photo/Joe Holloway, Jr.)
BOHOL, PHILIPPINES - 1988/01/01: A lemur clings to a coke bottle. . (Photo by Roland Neveu/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Bottles of Coca-Cola, Tab, and Sprite on the shelf of a grocery store in New York City, USA, September 1988. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Bottles of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Cans of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 20: Bottles of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke are displayed on a shelf in an Associated Supermarket in New York Thursday, October 20, 2005. Coca-Cola Co. said third-quarter profit surged 37 percent, the biggest gain in more than a year, as sales rebounded in the U.S. and demand for Powerade sports (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
PARK RIDGE, IL - NOVEMBER 07: 2-Liter bottles of Vanilla Coke as seen in a grocery store November 7, 2005 in Park Ridge, Illinois. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. has said it plans to discontinue its Vanilla Coke in the US by the end of the year. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 19: A general view of the new aluminum Coca-Cola bottle at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Fall 2009 Collections at Bryant Park on February 19, 2009 in New York City (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Coca Cola Company)
Bottles of Coca-Cola Co.'s Coke brand soda sit on a shelf behind the bar at Smith & Wollensky in New York, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 22, 2010. Coca-Cola Co., the world's biggest soda maker, agreed to buy the North American operations of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., more than six months after PepsiCo Inc. moved to bring its bottlers in-house to cut costs. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Coca-Cola bottle is displayed during a preview of the High Museum's new exhibit, "The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100", Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Atlanta. The exhibit, opening Feb. 28, explores the iconic design and creative legacy of the familiar soda bottle as art. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
A piece by artist Andy Warhol, left, is displayed next to a case of Coca-Cola bottles at the High Museum's new exhibit, "The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100", Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Atlanta. The exhibit, opening Feb. 28, explores the iconic design and creative legacy of the familiar soda bottle as art. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Rita Ora attends photocall to celebrates 100 years of the Coca-Cola Contour Bottle at the Coca-Cola Contour Centenary Bar on March 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
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Having children provides an immediate boost in a household's non-diet soft drink purchasing. Households with no children spend 9% less on soft drinks than the general population. A family with kids sees soda spending increase, on average, as the kids gets get older.

The higher-than-average consumption doesn't just apply to soda. In fact, households with teenagers drink more than their fair share of beverages across the board.

Households with teens drank 38% more energy drinks, 40% more enhanced water, and 25% more instant tea than could be expected for the group.

"There's so much greater choice that teenagers have," say Rost. "Everything from energy drinks to enhanced waters... all those things [are more popular] among those same households. I think it speaks more to the audience than even the beverage themselves."

Bottled, ready-to-drink beverages provide convenience to busy families with teenage children. Rost says that, increasingly, people are using beverages as substitutes for snacks, something that particularly appeals to parents attempting to keep up with teen appetites.

As soda sales overall continue to fall, the reliance on families with kids are becoming all the more important to giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Per capita soda sales have dropped 25% since 1998, and the total volume of soda consumed in the US dropped 1.2% in 2015. Both Coke and Pepsi are investing in beverages like tea, energy drinks, and juices — all drinks that families with teenagers are eagerly buying.

Households that make more than $100,000 a year are buying the least amount of non-diet soft drinks (only 75% of what could be expected). Households making under $20,000 a year spend 12% more on regular soda sales than the general population, and those making $20,000 to $29,999 spend 21% more.

It is no secret that the soda industry targets black and Latino communities. But according to Nielsen's data, minority households actually buy less soda than white households. While white households buy 8% more soft drinks than the average expected amount in households across all races, Hispanic households buy 13% less and black households buy 29% less. Asian-American households only purchase about half of what could be expected, falling short by 47%.

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Tostitos, prepared salsas, snack food
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Bottle of Gatorade are displayed on a shelf in an Associated Supermarket in New York Thursday, September 29, 2005. PepsiCo Inc., the world's No. 2 soft-drink maker, reported the biggest quarterly sales gain in 3 1/2 years as hot weather spurred demand for Gatorade sports drinks and Aquafina waters in the U.S. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 08: A bag of Fritos is displayed along with Fritos corn chips in New York Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007. PepsiCo Inc., the world's second-largest soft-drink maker, said fourth-quarter profit rose on a tax gain and overseas sales of Frito-Lay snacks. North American beverage volume had the smallest increase in six quarters. (Photo by Alicia Hansen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
NILES, IL - DECEMBER 1: Cartons of Tropicana orange juice lie in a grocery store display December 1, 2004 in Niles, Illinois. Tropicana orange juice prices are expected to rise due to the hurricane-damaged citrus crop in Florida. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Cases of Sabra Classic Hummus are viewed on the shelf of a grocery store on April 9, 2015 in New York City. Sabra Dipping Co. is recalling 30,000 cases of hummus due to possible contamination with Listeria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Bottles of PepsiCo Inc. Naked brand juice smoothies are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, July 2, 2015. PepsiCo Inc. is expected to report quarterly earnings on July 9, 2015. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Quaker instant oatmeal
Doritos potato chips
UNITED STATES - JULY 09: Bags of Lays potato chips sit on display in an Associated Supermarket in New York on July 9, 2007. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 16: Aquafina water seen on Day 6 of New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)
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Taco Bell has subtly become one of the healthiest fast-food chains
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