Disastrous product launch by Coca-Cola

If one wants to know success story of a brand, first choice will be Coca-Cola Almost 1 billion Coca-Cola drinks sold each day and it is thought to be one of the world’s most perceived brands.

In 1985, Coca-Cola Company came up with a decision to stop its original soft drink and replace it with New Coke. It was a big failure story of coca-cola. There was a growing competition for many years before the New Coke launch, between the Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola for the “Cola King” title. Both the Companies had even fought legally for using the word “Cola” in the name Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola lost the fight. Also Pepsi’s sales continued to grow which worried the Coca-Cola Company. They identified the customers preferred the sweeter taste of Pepsi over Coke.So experts created a “New Coke” that was more appealing than its rival company’s offering, conducted 200,000 taste tests and they seen overwhelming results. People preferred it over Pepsi cola and also it tastes better than the original. If Coca-Cola wants to stay number one, it shouldn’t maintain two products at the same time on shelves. So, they decided to remove the older and started marketing New Coke to replace the original Coca-Cola.

Here the problem begins; the Coca-Cola Company made a mistake underestimating its first brand power. Many of the citizens in US decided to reject the new product, when they heard of the company decision.New Coke was introduced On 23 April 1985 and the original coke was removed for few days (Johnson 2010). This decision was the biggest mistake of all time. New Coke sales were dropped more and public started hating the company for stopping the original and thought it wouldn’t be available. These results made Coca-Cola realize their mistake and they had a small option to go back to its original brand.

Coca-Cola had learnt that not only the product but also marketing is very much important. The taste tests they performed were blind considering the taste as only factor, forgetting its key brand asset: originality. Without any surprise, Pepsi perceived the oversight of Coca-Cola first. It made a TV promotion with an old man saying “They changed my coke,’ sitting on a bench at the park, gazing at the can in his hand. Nonetheless, when Coca-Cola re dispatched its unique original coke, the media demonstrated their enthusiasm for the brands support. Coca-Cola had gained its number one position within months fading away the New Coke.

Consistent Brand works; it builds trust and makes customers feel comfortable. So the biggest lesson that can learn from the failure of New Coke is, understanding your customer needs. It can’t be made by performing tests or research; you’ll gain a better understanding by interacting with them and through surveys and social media. Try to understand the view of your customer, so that the expectations can be reached. 

Image result for new coke launch failure

Lessons to learn from the failure launch of New Coke:

  • Do the market research in a right way. Coca-Cola failed in conducting the right research to launch its New Coke, despite of performing some thousands of taste tests.
  • Concentrate on the brands perception. Brand perception is not owned by brands, but by consumers. Whatever people think and talk about your brand, that is your brand (Kit Smith 2015).
  • Don’t copy your competitors. Coca-Cola made a mistake cloning the Pepsi Cola formula and failed to impress the customers.



  1. Johnson 2010, Coca-Cola brand failure, Marketing 91, retrieved 24 April 2016,<http://www.marketing91.com/coca-cola-brand-failure>
  2. Richard Adams 2015, The 6 Most Disastrous Product Launches Ever – And What You Can Learn From Them, Income diary, retrived 24 April 2016, <http://www.incomediary.com/the-6-most-disastrous-product-launches-ever>
  3. Kit Smith 2015, Marketing: The Importance of brand perception, Brand watch blog, retrieved 24 April 2016, <https://www.brandwatch.com/2015/11/marketing-the-importance-of-brand-perception/>

By:  Satya Gagana Sai Donavalli (214396408)


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