Marketing Case Studies

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Chapter 3: Cola Wars
Question #1: In the new Coke fiasco, how could Coca-Cola's marketing research have been improved? To determine how the marketing research could have been improved, let us first define the end result. Ultimately, consumers felt almost betrayed that Coca-Cola scratched their flagship product, Coke, for a newer, updated flavor. Coca-Cola's marketing research showed that over half of the people who taste-tested the new flavor preferred it over Pepsi and the nearly 100 year old Coke flavor. Looking back, there were several areas in which Coca-Cola's marketing research strategy was fatally flawed. First, taste-testers were not made aware of the possibility that the existing Coke flavor would be replaced with the newer flavor. This could have been the million-dollar question for Coca-Cola executives: "How would you feel if we replaced the existing Coke flavor with this new flavoring?" Second, the sample size who tested the new flavoring was simply too small. Taste-testing was geared more toward determining whether consumers preferred a sweeter taste instead of toward the actual flavoring used. When deciding whether or not to abandon a century old product whose number of customers reaches into the hundreds of millions, even 40,000 taste-testers cannot provide a representative sample. Finally, in what seems to be the most glaring oversight of all, the research showed that only 55% of the taste-testers preferred the new flavor. This data is hardly convincing enough to scrap an existing product in favor of a new product. Assuming that there were 100,000,000 Coke drinkers in 1984, Coca-Cola essentially cut their market in half to 55,000,000 who would presumably prefer the new flavor. It hardly seems like rocket science that if only half of the taste-testers prefer a new flavoring, you should not replace the existing flavoring.

Question #3: "If it's not broken, don't fix it."
Just because a product or service is not broken does not mean...
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