The Pepsi’s challenge (IM 672)

In the 1980s, the Coca-cola company was nervous about its future. Before 1980s, coke was dominant when it came to soft drinks but in the early 80s, Pepsi was close to coke making the Coca-cola company nervous about their future. The taste test was done between the Pepsi and the coke, where the sip of each Coke and Pepsi were taken and eventually Pepsi won over the Coke.

The Coca-cola company was concerned about their future and they decided to make their Coke lighter and sweeter – more than Pepsi, which they called “New Coke”.  In the blind taste test the Coke researchers noticed an improvement. But in the real world, the New Coke was a disaster. Coke drinkers rose up in outrage against New Coke. There were protest around the country. Coke was plunged into crisis and few months later, the company was forced to bring back the original Classic Coke.

This story of the New Coke clearly illustrates how complicated it is to find out what people really think about and it’s foolish to generalize the taste test (the context). Taking a sip is different form drinking the whole can and one cannot decide the taste from the sip because it is good to for the soft drink to be sweet when you take a sip but not the whole can. That’s what the Coca-cola company learned.

It’s not only about the sensations in the taste buds that matter, there is the brand, the memories and the imagination about the product. So, it’s absurd to service one dimension and ignore the other.

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