New Coke - A Lesson in Brand Loyalty

Published: Mar 10, 2009

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In April 1985, the management of The Coca-Cola Company announced its decision to change the flavor of the company's flagship brand. This decision was made based on the fact that Pepsi consumer research discovered in blind taste tests that a majority of consumers preferred the taste of Pepsi to that of Coke. The "Pepsi Challenge" campaign made this public knowledge and Coke executives quickly moved to change America's top brand. New Coke came in a new can, with updated red and silver graphics replacing the traditional red and white look. Although taste tests of the New Coke had shown that majority of those tested preferred the new product, these tests could not gauge the emotional appeal of the "old" Coke. In other words, consumers want their cake and eat it too. A large public outcry ensued during the 79 days when old Coke was no longer on the shelves. Coca-Cola quickly reintroduced the "old" Coke when they realized market share was falling and christened it Classic Coke. Volume for the classic brand has risen 24 percent since 1984, making it the No. 1 soft drink in the land since 1987. Consumers became even more loyal to the brand after it was temporarily taken away from them.