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New Coke

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**Background and Development**:
Coca-Cola’s market share decline post World War II, dropping to under 24% by 1983 due to competition from Pepsi.
– Shift in consumer preferences towards diet drinks and non-cola soft drinks impacting Coca-Cola’s market share.
– Roberto Goizueta’s leadership emphasizing no sacred cows and the initiation of Project Kansas to create a new flavor for Coke.
– Transparent labeling of the new drink as ‘New Coke’ to boost profits.
– Approval sought from predecessor Robert W. Woodruff before reformulation.

**Launch and Initial Reception**:
– Introduction of New Coke on April 23, 1985, coinciding with the drinks centenary.
– Positive initial sales figures in cities like New York and Washington, D.C.
– Market research indicating consumer willingness to repurchase New Coke.
– Emphasis on the sweeter taste of New Coke contradicting previous advertising.
– Awareness of the change by 80% of Americans within days of the launch.

**Backlash and Reversal**:
– Significant consumer discontent, especially in the Southern US, viewing the change as a departure from tradition.
– Resistance from consumers considering Coca-Cola a part of their regional identity.
– Decision to reintroduce the original Coke due to consumer and bottler dissatisfaction.
– Public backlash including criticism from Fidel Castro and formation of groups lobbying for the old formula.
– Reintroduction of the old formula prompted by consumer dissatisfaction.

**Legacy and Marketing Strategies**:
Coca-Cola Classic outselling New Coke and Pepsi by the end of 1985.
– Cherry Coke’s introduction alongside New Coke credited with the company’s success in 1985.
– Repositioning of the Coca-Cola brand distinct from Pepsi due to the New Coke episode.
– Rejuvenation of the brand through label changes and attachment of the public to Coca-Cola.
– Changes in marketing strategies post the New Coke incident.

**Consumer Sentiment and Challenges**:
– Emotional attachment of consumers to the original Coca-Cola formula.
– Challenges faced by Coca-Cola employees, executives, and bottlers post the New Coke launch.
– Adjustments made to the New Coke formula to address taste concerns.
– Public reception and taste test results post the introduction of New Coke.
– Company’s underestimation of public reaction and emotional attachment to the old formula.

New Coke (Wikipedia)

New Coke was the unofficial name of a reformulation of the soft drink Coca-Cola, introduced by The Coca-Cola Company in April, 1985. It was renamed Coke II in 1990, and discontinued in July 2002.

New Coke
A can of New Coke
Product typeCola
OwnerThe Coca-Cola Company
CountryUnited States
IntroducedApril 23, 1985
DiscontinuedJuly 2002

By 1985, Coca-Cola had been losing market share to diet soft drinks and non-cola beverages for several years. Blind taste tests suggested that consumers preferred the sweeter taste of the competing product Pepsi-Cola, and so the Coca-Cola recipe was reformulated. The American public reacted negatively, and New Coke was considered a major failure.

The company reintroduced the original formula within three months, rebranded "Coca-Cola Classic", resulting in a significant sales boost. This led to speculation that the New Coke formula had been a ploy to stimulate sales of the original Coca-Cola, which the company has vehemently denied. The story of New Coke remains influential as a cautionary tale against tampering with an established successful brand.

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