Table of Contents
Topics Page No.
1. Introduction 1
2. The Reformulation 2
3. How had the Coca-Cola management got it so wrong? 3
4. Were there less drastic alternatives? 5
5. Understanding your Loyal Customer 6
6. Conclusion 7
Coke was invented by Dr. John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist and his three-legged brass pot all the way back in 1886; by 1985 Coke was closing in fast on its centennial anniversary. (Cook, 2002) Coke along with the legendary chairman Roberto C. Goizueta had witnessed a remarkable set of accomplishments during the 1980's. There were some creeping problems, however. The 87-year old rivalry between Coca-Cola, the
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The author personally feels that the failure of Coke's research in this instance is not as a result of intrinsic limitation of the capabilities of marketing research. Rather, the research was conducted or interpreted incorrectly. It was noted that although some have argued that Coke's research error was to over-generalize from inexact taste test results, the vast majority of people who have publicly voiced an opinion concerning where Coke's research efforts went wrong espouse what could be called the "wrong-question explanation."(Schindler, 1992) According to this view, the reason that Coke's marketing research did not detect the consumer outcry which resulted from the reformulation was that they did not make it clear to the taste-test respondents that if most people chose the new Coke flavour, then the traditional Coke flavour would no longer be available. In other words, rather than ask, "Which flavour do you like better," consumers should have been asked a more relevant question; "How would you feel if we discarded Coca-Cola's current taste and replaced it with this new taste?"
The New York Times' was quoted reporting on Coke's announcement of the reintroduction of old Coke began as follows: "When the Coca-Cola Company introduced a reformulated version of the world's best-selling soft drink on April 23, it was well aware that it might alienate some faithful Coke drinkers. The company, however, expected that alienation to fade. It was completely