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Core Marketing Concepts Employed by Coke for Coco-Cola Blak, Case Study Example

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Case Study

The rumors that Coca-Cola was to introduce some coffee drinks were circulating the market long before Coca-Cola Blak was officially launched. Everyone was holding his breath awaiting what the company could make out of coffee, having been synonymous solely with carbonated drinks. The awaited products were launched in France initially and then in the UK market. By the time the product hit the American scene, it was pretty much old news. When official promotions begun, Coca-Cola emphasized that the new product was specifically targeted at the adult population. By that time, almost everyone was willing to have a taste of the new Coke. Actually, most people did taste, once or twice.

The idea to test the product in England, beginning with France and then UK, was informed by something else and not common knowledge. This is one region that does not look very favorably on that type of drink. The gamble might have been that if the product hits in the UK market, the success of the US market would be given. Another important thing to note is that Coca-Cola US announced that it was working with Godiva, and American favorite chocolate maker, as part of its promotion strategy. Therefore, when the coffee-flavored drink finally debuted, most people had imaginations of it being chocolate-like in taste. In fact, most people expected nothing but a chocolate drink with a coffee blend.  What emerged though, was a coffee textured, cappuccino-style froth with a funny taste that had nothing chocolate in it. This does not mean that it was necessarily a bad taste, only that Coca Cola Atlanta had created a different expectation in the market for Blak.

As if that was not enough, the so called stimulating and invigorating beverage blend, Coca-Cola Blak, came around with a new packaging technology that was new on a Coca-Cola product. Most people could not place the black/brown aluminum bottle to the Coca-Cola brand at first. The aluminum bottle was however shaped similar to Coca-Cola’s signature contoured bottle, like the one launched for the regular Coke in five exclusive regions of upscale nightclubs a year earlier. Again, a nightclub design was not among the best associations that the new product should have been given. With an 8-ounce pack of four going at $7.99, the costing was also biased towards the upscale market, making it a not so affordable drink.

Where Coca-Cola Faulted

The failure of Coca-Cola Blak has and can authentically be attributed to the confusing taste of natural flavors in a coffee blend. But for the purpose of this paper, the boat that saw the product drown in criticism remains poor promotion strategies. As illustrated above, leaking the information of the launch before the product was in the market and then launching it abroad before the US market made the masses very curious. There was an extremely unrealistic expectation placed on the coffee flavored cola by the time it was launched in the US. Again, the poor reception in the UK and France market (which should have been expected anyway) had already formed a negative image on the product even before the product was locally available.  Good market research, the backbone of marketing promotion, was omitted in this case.

Association with a chocolate maker when the product had nothing chocolate in taste created a deceiving expectation in the mind of consumers before they tasted it. It is no wonder then that food panel members could not even guess that it was a coffee product. In most independent tasting tests, it failed to impress at all due to flavor. More than being a matter of quality, at question was the expectations the masses had and the product that was finally launched.

This was not helped by poor press management. The press picked up the story, not of the product launch but the launch of a looser product. Anderson Cooper was on YouTube tasting the Coke Blak, and he did not like it much. After that, millions of Americans who had not tasted the product, who would have perhaps liked it, did not need to taste it themselves. Poor press handling, questionable crisis management and response, saw a great product go down. This was failure of product marketing and not of the product itself.

One final failure was in Coke not exploiting its brand image and its rich brand identity to give Coke Blak a start-off push. Packaging the new product in a new technology, a non-coke traditional package was a mistake and should not have been done at the introduction of such a volatile product. Had the drink assumed any one of the popularly known packaging, chances are it could have been more identifiable and more susceptible to brand loyalty.

What Could Have Worked

A working marketing strategy must always be based on a reliable analysis of target users needs. The market in which the marketing is done must be precisely determined on the basis of opportunities. The inspiration, promises and anticipations created by that marketing strategy must also be maintained if the product is to succeed. A successful marketing strategy must essentially begin in good, credible and ongoing market research.

Coca-Cola did not do that in the UK market before deciding to use the region as the pilot launch ground. Press management, creation and propagation of brand loyalty and identification of a particular target group are essential in successful marketing. Invigorating and tantalizing flavors do not go well with the adults, yet Coke Blak was meant for the adult market. Had it been for a younger age, maybe the flavors could have worked. Researching the target market and identifying their preferential tastes and likes is cardinal in marketing.

References

Coffee Soda (2010). Coke Black & Coca Cola Black.  Retrieved on 26th Feb. 2010. From http://www.pilotyid.com/coca-cola-black-coke-black.php.

Kotler, P. (1998). Principles of Marketing. Ney York: Prentice Hall College.

Zyman, S. (1999). The End of Marketing as We Know It. New York: HarperBusiness Publishers.

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