Diet Coke Makeover
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
11 January 2018
Coca-Cola’s Diet Coke makeover
“Millennials are now thirstier than ever for adventures and new experiences, and we want to be right by their side,” said Coca-Cola North American Director. As a result, Coke is introducing a Diet Coke Makeover.
A proud brand grasping at straws
Coca-Cola stands as one of the world’s premier brands. It has brand loyalists who buy and wear Coke emblazoned sweatshirts. The shape of the bottle is an icon. It owns an emotional bond with enthusiasts that transcends rationality.
Coca-Cola is more than a soft drink.
Soft drink sales are on the decline
It’s been a known problem. All the brands are off. Many added still beverages to the roster. Dasani (and Dasani plus), Vitaminwater (nice joke there), Smartwater all find homes at Coca-Cola.
For years, the soft drink kingpins have seen sugary drinks decline. But they could always count on diet beverages to grow the franchise.
Not so much anymore.
“Diet Coke has added a slew of marketing sounding flavors to the franchise. Someone tell me how a parent brand that lives off authenticity is planning on marketing Twisted Mango to Millennials. You know Millennials. Those easily led kids seeking unreal experiences. Geez.”
It was Coca-Cola’s first jump into diet beverages. Positioned against a female audience because common wisdom of the day said only women wanted to count calories.
At least the soft drink industry recognized the flaws in that thinking. Turns out “me too” was applicable to men in the 60s and 70s. They cared about their own waistlines too.
Diet Coke was the first major makeover for the Coke Brand. This is a different beer than the current Diet Coke makeover. This represented Coke using the parent brand to launch a diet flanker. The taste profile was the same audience. Cola drinkers.
To borrow from Bob Dylan, “Things have changed.”
Coca-Cola recognized that Diet Coke was in the cola family but its taste preference is different. Let’s face it. Diet Coke was a cola but not Coca-Cola. Mouth feel and nasal burn is different.
So Coca-Cola launched Coke Zero (I’m leaving out all the non-Coke brands that also tore into the diet market).
Just recently, Coke Zero quietly reconfigured and rebranded. The pretender brand is not Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and it is a reformulation of taste. Even the package now looks like a spin-off of Coca-Cola.
That left the Coca-Cola brain trust with a dilemma. What do we do with Diet Coke?
Easy solution. Millennials
The Diet Coke makeover rounded up the usual suspects— you know who they are. Millennials. And decided to position the brand against that nebulous group of prospects.
You know Millennials? Marketers think they defy all the market rules and are ripe for picking. Not being able to accurately define them makes it a very safe market target. If you can’t truly define them (excepting an age demographic) you can’t blame them when it does not work.
They are the marketing poster boy for forbidden fruit. No one REALLY cracks them.
The Diet Coke makeover is crazy
The Diet Coke makeover demonstrates how weak the Diet Coke brand IS. Coca-Cola counts on the Coca-Cola brand to carry the value here. Why? Because the Diet Coke makeover is about other flavoring. Not Cola.
Sure. There is still going to be Diet Coke (the cola). But the new flavors are Ginger Lime. Feisty Cherry (no marketing language here). Zesty Blood Orange (not the dull Blood Orange we thought we knew).
And Twisted Mango. For those who think mango needs a good twist.
Hey. What do I know?
I’m just a brand guy. Coca-Cola spoke to 10,000 customers across the nation to figure this all out. And the new Diet Coke makeover looks just like it. 10,000 off flavors because retailers of soda water need more SKUs on the shelves.
Drink up everyone. It will all be gone soon. You heard it here first.
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