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The Story of One of the Most Memorable

Marketing Blunders Ever: The ‘New Coke’

Master in international Trade & Business


(MIT&B)
Market Research

Arturo Gómez Quijano

Student number: 324514


The ‘New Coke’
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INDEX

1. ABSTRACT..........................................................................................................2

2. THE NEW COKE.................................................................................................3

3. CONCLUSION.....................................................................................................5

4. BIBLIOGRAPHY.................................................................................................6

Figure 1. The New Coke...................................................................................................3

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1. ABSTRACT
In this pre-unit work I am going to talk about hoy Coca Cola failed when launching a
new initiative for consumers. I will identify the consumer mistake that has had negative
consequences for Coca Cola and suggest how it could have been avoided.

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2. THE NEW COKE


In the mid-80s, Coca Cola was about to ruin their image by taking a bad decision. But
what really happened? They changed their ‘magic formula’.
In order to understand what happened to Coca Cola we must go back to the 80s. In
1974, Pepsi’s marketing department decided to launch a challenge for the customers,
this was known as Pepsi Challenge.[CITATION Joe17 \l 3082 ] They did this challenge
in many shopping centers throughout the United States. Each participant was invited to
try both without knowing the brands. Statistics showed that Pepsi was voted more than
Coca Cola. Suddenly, Coca Cola did not believe statistics done by Pepsi, so they
recreated the challenge internally. But surprisingly they obtained the same results. Here
is when Coca Cola started to get nervous.[CITATION Amy18 \l 3082 ]
In addition, Pepsi was gradually getting more influence in the market, all thanks to the
Pepsi Challenge. They were getting customers that were previously from Coca Cola.
Coca Cola’s market share fell from 60 percent to 23 percent.
In 1985, Coca Cola took an unexpected turn, so much than even many workers in the
company did not quite believe it. Chemists working in the company’s laboratory were
ordered to configure and slightly vary the mysterious formula.[CITATION Jor18 \l
3082 ]
One of the changes in the formula was to completely abandon conventional sugar and
start using high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). [CITATION Kle19 \l 3082 ]
Once the chemists finished the production of the new coke, several internal blind taste
tests were performed.

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Figure 1. The New Coke

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The results showed that Coca Cola earned approximately 9 percent more power than
Pepsi and approximately 21 percent more than the original Coke recipe. When
participants were asked if they would drink Coca Cola if it was modified, most
responded positively.
“The new flavor of Coca Cola” was scheduled to be launched without citizens knowing,
it would be April 23, 1985.[CITATION Jor18 \l 3082 ]
However, in a few weeks, very contrary feelings began to appear in a certain sector of
the unpredictable public. There was a segment of the population, approximately 15%,
who really disliked the New Coke, and they reflected it with such enthusiasm that their
complaints began to prevail over the public approval that existed until then. In a short
time, the New Coke disappeared from the stores, since the scarce resource was stored by
entrepreneurs.[CITATION Coc19 \l 3082 ]
[CITATION Thend \l 3082 ] announced the end of New Coke apologizing in public
while the original recipe returned to the market as "Coca Cola Classic."

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3. CONCLUSION
If Coca Cola had changed the formula without changing the name, people would have
accepted it, but drastically changing the image and product was too much.
Conversely, another alternative could be, not changing the name, but launching the
‘New Coke’ as a new product line, for example Diet Coke or Coke Zero.

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4. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Coca Cola Great Britain, 2019. 'Stranger Things have happened: The story of New
Coke'. [Online] Available at: https://www.coca-cola.co.uk/stories/stranger-things-have-
happened-the-story-of-new-coke [Accessed 10 February 2020].

Fogarty, A. T. &. K., 2018. 'New Coke'. [Online] Available at:


https://www.britannica.com/topic/New-Coke [Accessed 10 February 2020].

Jorge, M., 2018. 'El día que Coca Cola cometió el error más grave de su historia:
copiar el sabor de la pepsi'. [Online] Available at: https://es.gizmodo.com/el-dia-que-
coca-cola-cometio-el-error-mas-grave-de-su-h-1824309745 [Accessed 10 February
2020].

Klein, C., 2019. 'The New Coke Flop'. [Online] Available at:
https://www.history.com/news/the-new-coke-flop-30-years-ago [Accessed 10 February
2020].

Nocera, J., 2017. 'The Inside History of the New Coke Debacle'. [Online] Available at:
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2017-11-03/the-inside-history-of-the-new-
coke-debacle [Accessed 10 February 2020].

The Coca Cola Company, n.d.. 'The Coca Cola Company'. [Online] Available at:
https://www.coca-colacompany.com/news/the-story-of-one-of-the-most-memorable-
marketing-blunders-ever [Accessed 10 February 2020].

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