Coca-Cola is changing the flavor of a soda again, and fans are already upset.
Coca-Cola understands that changing the flavor of its Coke Zero Sugar product may create some concern among customers, but the soft drink giant hopes that the new flavor will be pleasant.
Company officials said on Tuesday that the plan was to change the drink in such a way that it would “deliver an even more iconic Coke taste.”
Fans of Coca-Cola have not always welcomed change. According to The Washington Post, the company debuted “New Coke” in 1985, which sparked outrage. Many consumers disliked the sweeter version of the original soft drink, leading Coke to rebrand it as “Coca-Cola Classic” in July 1985, according to the New York Times.
That change was made in an attempt to counter Pepsi’s growing popularity, which was beginning to eat into the Coca-Cola market’s share.
Consumers, on the other hand, despised New Coke. In June 1985, the company’s consumer hotline was receiving 1,500 calls each day.
“People seemed to hold any Coca-Cola employee — from security officers at our headquarters building to their neighbors who worked for Coke — personally responsible for the change,” according to a detailed account of the fiasco on the company’s website, which describes the episode as one of the “most memorable marketing blunders ever.”
Coca-Cola is changing the flavor of Coke Zero and some people are getting flashbacks to 1985, when Coke changed its taste, a decision so unpopular it inspired a joke in one episode of “The Golden Girls.” https://t.co/AK6hnNiWks— Maria Cramer (@NYTimesCramer) July 14, 2021
According to CNN, the new Coke Zero will be released later this month and will be available in Canada in September.
It’s the second time Coke Zero, a calorie-free beverage, has been rebooted in its 16-year history. According to the Washington Post, Coca-Cola Zero was rebranded Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in 2017 and its formula and packaging were changed.
Natalia Suarez, a senior brand manager at Coca-Cola, said in a statement that the company changed the soda recipe because, to keep growing, “we must keep challenging ourselves to innovate and differentiate just as other iconic brands have done.”
“The consumer landscape is always changing,” Suarez said, “which means we must evolve to stay ahead.”
Professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Doug Bowman, said it was unlikely that the new Coke Zero product would create the backlash caused by New Coke.
“This is a strategy where Coke is trying to stay ahead of the market,” Bowman told the Times. “It is hard to see anyone except the most die-hard Coke Zero Sugar people noticing the difference.”
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