News flash: Companies change their product to appeal to their customers


There was some apparent uproar because there was an industry which "changed the flavoring of their product depending on which market segment they were trying to appeal to."

Well duh, don't all industries do this?

The reason why this even remotely qualified as news didn't appear until the last five words of the article!

Comments (24)
  1. Joshua Ganes says:

    The worst is when a company changes a product you enjoy for the worse. The most famous example of this is probably the New Coke/Coke Classic ordeal. It seems that all too often I find a product that I really like only to have it changed in some way. Somehow, the horrible old standbys keep struggling along without changing their formula at all.

  2. Erik says:

    This is also a 3-year old news flash. From TFA: "Originally published Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM"

    Regarding New Coke – there's an old conspiracy theory about how Coke did New Coke on purpose, knowing it would flop, knowing that when they re-introduced Classic they'd get a surge of business that put them further ahead of Pepsi, who was at the time taking considerably market share from Coke. Whether it was on purpose or not, sometimes the best way to succeed is to fail.

  3. John says:

    @Erik:  If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?

  4. Gabe says:

    The New Coke incident was almost certainly not intentional — who would be stupid enough to risk that much? The reason it happened was that Diet Coke, which was Coke in name only (it was an entirely new formulation), was becoming reasonably popular. Executives figured that they could capitalize on that popularity and boost their flagging sales by replacing the old, tired Coke formula with a sugary version of Diet Coke.

    Of course they quickly learned that people drank Diet Coke because it was diet, not because it was Coke. Coke then had to bury New Coke and bring back the original formula and call it "Coke Classic" so that people would know that it was the real stuff, not the impostor.

    The up-shot is that Coke sales went higher than ever before when people realized what they missed, and we got the "Classic" idiom which can be applied to anything to indicate "the original" in relation to a newer version.

    Bonus chatter: Coke Zero is the diet version of Coke Classic.

  5. James Schend says:

    @Erik: Posts like this are a clue to how long Raymond's queue is.

  6. Jim says:

    Product needs change? Not for the teaching profession. I still remember that my finance teacher taught us a case 35 years old, she is been teaching that for all her career! When you get the tenure you stop being alive.

  7. keith says:

    "If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?"

    The way to fly is to aim for the ground, and miss.  

  8. Chris B says:

    "If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?"

    This reminds me of one of my favorite messages from the MS unit testing framework: "Assert.Fail() failed."

    Wait…what? What do I do about this? From here, it looks like Assert.Fail succeeded. Have I failed to fail or failed to succeed or succeeded at failing? Ouch, my brain hurts.

  9. Tim says:

    J: You should read history a bit better. Coke switched to 50% HFCS five years before new coke, and 100% HFCS six months before. It was already there.

  10. J says:

    As far as I'm aware, the New Coke stuff *was* deliberate, and it was to cover the switch from sucrose to HFCS in the classic coke formula. Release New Coke, people don't like it, say you're switching back to the classic recipe (but don't tell anyone you're using HFCS instead of sucrose), and customers don't even notice that it tastes subtly different from what it was.

  11. Worf says:

    And there are places where oke still uses honest sugarcane sugar rather than HFCS… Just that US and Canada have subsidized corn so much that corn derivatives are really cheap.

  12. Neil says:

    Aha, that explains why I only hate Diet Coke, not Coke Zero.

  13. Owen Shephrd says:

    The thing about New Coke is that in blind audience trials, people generally preferred the new coke taste to that of old coke. People were just too resistant to change.

  14. Owen Shepherd says:

    I should also add: The taste of cola varies significantly around the world. In the UK I would class the Coke Zero taste as more akin to that of competitor Pepsi than any of the other Coke products. Diet Pepsi, on the other hand, I would class as their flavor most similar to Coke

  15. Jules says:

    @Owen Shepherd — the taste trial thing is probably a blind alley.  New Coke was actually designed to improve response to taste trials, that's basically what it was engineered for (because Pepsi was killing Coke in taste trials).  The problem is that taste trials identify what people like the flavour of, but people don't necessarily actually like to drink the same thing… New Coke was sweeter than Classic, and people like small quantities of sweet things (like you get in a taste trial) but for larger quantities prefer things that are less sweet.

  16. KristofU says:

    Not to mention the Choco Mousse from Cote d'Or. It used to be light and airy, then they made it dense.

  17. Igor says:

    Regarding Coke, it is still possible to get one with sugar — look for the bottles with the yellow cap.

  18. Troll says:

    Companies remove features from their products to appeal to the dumb customers.

  19. David Walker says:

    @Tim: Coca-cola uses sugar from time to time in some of their products instead of HFCS, such as during passover when there is kosher Coca-Cola available in some markets, in some stores in those markets.  I know some grocery stores in Atlanta used to carry this.  So they haven't switched "100%" to HFCS.

    I didn't remember about the "yellow cap" that Igor mentions, but that's interesting.

  20. No One says:

    There's also the Pepsi Throwback line (which may just be Pepsi and Mt. Dew) if you want real sugar instead of HFCS.  Or you can get Mexican-manufactured soft drinks which also use real sugar instead of HFCS.

  21. Josh says:

    @David: You and Igor were talking about the same thing. Around Passover, Coke releases kosher for Passover soda, and indicates it by means of the yellow cap. Yellow caps are rare any other time of year (surplus stock from Passover generally), and if there aren't a lot of Jews in your area, the local store might not sell them (so being Passover is no guarantee of real sugar). Like he said, the yellow cap is the key.

  22. David Walker says:

    So, if you like Coca-Cola made with sugar, just make sure you live in a market where Coca-Cola offers cola at Passover, and stock up when you see the yellow cap!

  23. Joshua Ganes says:

    It appears that I've steered this post into a New Coke tangent. Here in Vancouver, I find there are several independent grocery stores that offer Coca-Cola produced in Mexico. In my opinion, this is several times better than what you normally find.

  24. Gabe says:

    I guess I should consider myself fortunate to live in a place that has many Jewish neighborhoods (so I can find Passover Coke in the Spring), has a local bottler that uses sucrose (so I can sometimes find regular Coke made without HFCS), and has a store nearby that sells bottles of Mexican Coke. The Mexican Coke is the best because it comes in glass bottles, but since they require a bottle opener they are not easy to drink on-the-go.

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