What should have occurred? What should occur in future situations? It would be a logical inference to suggest that Coca-Cola’s decision to change its formula and market “New Coke” to the American population was nothing short of a complete failure. “On 23 April 1985 New Coke was introduced and a few days later the production of original Coke was stopped. This joint decision has since been referred to as ‘the biggest marketing blunder of all time’” (Bhasin, 2010).
But to completely dismiss the fact that Coca-Cola was losing market share to Pepsi-Cola, as well as other products that they themselves were producing (Diet Coke), would not fairly give justice to the decisions behind Coca-Cola’s marketing blunder. Coca-Cola was in a dilemma. They were going through an identity crisis, and that crisis seemed to lead them to make their one major costly decision. That crisis was quite simple. Coca-Cola had forgotten who they were and grasping for market share, instead of focusing on branding lead them in an ominous direction.
In order to avoid an identity crisis, Coca-Cola should have understood that “a brand is far more than just a logo. Instead, it’s comprised of a complete set of attributes and tools, or “identity elements,” that give the brand a unique identity” (Forward). The simple fact is that all the time, money, and skill poured into consumer research on the new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to the original Coca-Cola, felt by so many people. The passion for original Coca-Cola was something that caught executives at Coca-Cola by surprise.
It was a mystery, an American enigma, and one cannot measure it any more than one can measure love, pride, or patriotism (Bhasin, 2010). Of all of the consumer research and data analyzing Coca-Cola and its executives claim to have performed, it’s a mystery that they forgot one simple rule; ask your customers first! “Sam Craig, professor of marketing and international business at the Stern School of Business at New York University, pointed to what he and other industry observers have long considered a fatal mistake on Coca-Cola’s part. “They didn’t ask the critical question of Coke users: Do you want a new Coke?
By failing to ask that critical question, they had to backpedal very quickly” (Ross, 2005). Coca-cola should have concentrated on the brands perception. “Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products” (Bhasin, 2010). If Coca-Cola had concentrated on brand perception and less on trying to clone or compete with another company’s product, they would have never made the fatal mistake. What Coca-cola learned was to not be afraid to make a mistake. Yet, most importantly they learned to admit those mistakes and not be afraid to “make a u-turn”.
Through the brand failure of New Coke loyalty to ‘the real thing’ intensified. Coca-Cola assimilated that “by going back on its decision to scrap original Coke, the company ended up creating an even stronger bond between the product and the consumer” (Bhasin, 2010). Consumers began realizing that coke was more than a drink. It was an experience – an enigma. The question then arises: Coca-Cola has recently decided, along with Pepsi-Cola, to change its recipe in order to avoid putting a cancer warning on their cans. Will Coca-Cola have learned anything from “the biggest marketing blunder of all time”?
Bhasin, H. (2010, January 1). Coca Cola Brand Failure. Retrieved April 2012, 26, from Marketing91: http://www. marketing91. com/coca-cola-brand-failure/ Forward, J. (n. d. ). How to Build Your Brand and Avoid an Identity Crisis. Retrieved April 26, 2012, from Beneath The Brand: http://www. talentzoo. com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news. php? articleID=8478 Ross, M. E. (2005, April 22). It seemed like a good idea at the time . Retrieved April 26, 2012, from MSNBC: http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/7209828/ns/us_news/t/it-seemed-good-idea-time/#. T5mkCuweSSA
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