I find that I am loyal to Coke (Coca-cola) over most of other cola drinks (Pepsi, in particular) and even over other kinds of carbonated beverages. Whenever there is a choice between the two, I choose to buy Coke. There are most probably many reasons for this. There is the obvious matter of taste, for one. Contrary to what some persons may say, I find that there is in fact a discernable difference between the taste of Coke and Pepsi, and other cola-flavored carbonated beverages that I have tried.
Compared to Pepsi, Coke has a somewhat fuller taste, whereas Pepsi tastes relatively bland. Coke is also somewhat easier to consume because it is less sweet. I suspect that a big factor may also what I was used to as a child; it may be a kind of ‘acquired taste. ‘ Even as a child Coke was the preference of my family, possibly because Coke existed before Pepsi did. It is possible that if it had been another brand (most likely Pepsi) then I would have preferred that.
I was, and am, of course, susceptible to advertising; as a child I usually found the television advertisements of Coca-cola more interesting than its main competitor, Pepsi, which frequently alluded their brand being ‘the choice of the new generation’. A short overview of Coca-cola’s advertising history (This is not a comprehensive history, but a representative overview that gives an idea of how the company has conducted its marketing over the years). 1928. Coca-cola has also been heavily involved in sports-related marketing.
Coke sponsored the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, being the first ever company to sponsor an Olympic game. This of course brought tremendous attention to the brand. 1930. In the winter of this year, Coca cola uses the now-common image of Santa Claus a plump white-bearded old man in a red and white suit. This image is used on bottle labels, advertising posters, and eventually television advertisements, associating the brand with the “Christmas feeling. ” 1969. “It’s the Real Thing” slogan. Coca-cola takes advantage of the fact that it is the “original” cola drink to appeal to the public.
1970. Coca-cola launches a television advertisement where a song titled “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” is sung. This proved to be a very popular song. It had a dramatic effect in the United States, raising Coca-cola’s market share by 15 percent. It employed the emotional impact of the image of harmony and unity as portrayed by the several hundred children and adults on a hillside singing the song. It is credited with recapturing the interest of young people in the drink. 1975. Pepsi started what is now known as the cola wars.
Pepsi ran television ads showing people participating in blind taste tests preferring the taste of Pepsi to Coke. Coca-Cola ran ads to combat these, ridiculing Pepsi’s ads. 1978. Coca-cola sponsors FIFA World Cup. This goes on until today. 1985. Coca-cola launches “New Coke” as a response to Pepsi’s overwhelming success. New Coke was a reformulation of the drink, intended to have a taste more similar to Pepsi. This was an abject failure; nationwide public objection to the change in formula made the company revert to the original formula after only three months.
This proved to be a ‘blessing in disguise’ however; upon the return of the original formulation, Coke’s market share went up dramatically. Coca-cola, of course, has also engaged in much covert advertising (notably, product placements in movies). Coca-cola also often has rewards programs, with codes printed beneath bottle caps, which buyers can exchange for prizes. Currently, the company has a rewards program called “mycokerewards,” capitalizing on the popularity of similarly styled names (such as “myspace”) among teenagers.
Researching the history of Coca-cola has made me understand that there are a lot of aspects of brand loyalty other than simply the quality of the product. Brand loyalty is oftentimes strongly psychological, as evidenced, for example, by the public outcry against “New Coke” in 1985. There are some studies that suggest that even the color/appearance of an item’s packaging can affect it’s perceived taste (as when a drink with a more yellowish label than usual was perceived as having a more lemony taste).
That the taste of a certain food product or drink is oftentimes not a purely gustatory and olfactory function, but is also affected by seemingly irrelevant factors such as packaging colors. I am certain that I am a “victim” of this subjectivity as well. I am reminded of the old saw “Don’t judge a book by its cover. ” However wise this may adage may seem, it is perhaps unavoidable that people will indeed ‘judge books by their covers’.
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