Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Genius

Pure marketing genius.

You remember the debacle that was "New Coke"? Well, so do the folks at Coca-Cola. And somebody at Coke deserves a big bonus this time around because this time they got it right.

Brand loyalty is a funny thing. Once we become entrenched, it's hard to get us to try new things. We have our favorites, the old tried-and-trues, and that's all we want. So how do you get people to switch? What if you have a new product to sell, but can't afford the risk of it not catching on? Coke may have hit upon the secret. And ironically, it's the same thing they did last time - take a new product and give it the old name.

I'm talking about Diet Coke. The formula has changed so that it now contains Splenda instead of Nutra-Sweet. Though if you go shopping right now, you can probably still find some of the old stock, since it's still in the transition period.

But what if you don't want Diet Coke with Splenda? What if you want the OLD Diet Coke? Well, you can still get that...only it's now called Coke Zero. But most folks won't figure that out and eventually Coke Zero with go the way of Pepsi Clear.

Coke won't care, because they will have pulled off the switch to Splenda without diluting the brand or losing market share. I think it's going to work this time for two reasons. One is that the formula change is more subtle than the New Coke to Coke change. With diet drinks, the sweetener change is harder to detect. (Gosh, I sometimes still miss that "twang" you got from saccharin) The reason the switch will work this time is that the change is not in their marque product. Oh, Diet Coke is a heavy hitter for sure, but it's still not the 800lb gorilla. And since it's not, people pay less attention to it.

Besides, anybody who drinks "diet" must have something wrong with them, so who cares if they complain...

(I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I pretty much only drink "diet" myself. Oh, wait a minute. I'm trying to DISPROVE my previous assertion...)

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