A colleague asked me the other day if I was some sort of brand ambassador for Coke. His reasoning was my knowledge of the brand and the different sub-brands. Unfortunately, I’m not, but I’m a massive Diet Coke fan and drink far too much of the lovely bubbly stuff. As I write this, I have a fridge filled with cans under my desk.
The reason I know a bit about the different Cokes, apart from the fact that I write rather a lot about them, is my fascination with the brand. However, the brand itself has had a problem with consumers not knowing the difference between the different types ie Red Coke (or full-fat Coke as a lot of us call it), Diet Coke, Zero and Life.
I have even witnessed this confusion first hand in the hospital shop where I volunteer, where visitors have been asked to get a patient some Coke but are not sure which is which. However, it’s all set to become more clear, apparently, with the relaunch of Zero as Zero Sugar so it does what it says on the tin, so to speak. Advertising communicates that it "tastes more like Coke and looks more like Coke". And it does. New cans have more red on them and a "New improved taste" message. In its press material, Coca-Cola says this latest move is designed to help people reduce their sugar consumption and it marks a move from "offering choice" to "shaping choice", whatever that means. All marketing material is focused on making consumers "reconsider their view of sugar free soft drinks and try the new product". That’s all well and good but red Coke is a big seller for a reason people love it. And I can’t see that changing any time soon. The sugar tax might put a few pence on a can but people will still drink it.
I’ve tried new, improved Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and I still prefer Diet Coke. Mr West, a big red Coke fan, won’t like it as he can taste artificial sweeteners from a mile off. Of course, Coca-Cola launched Life with a blend of sugar and stevia plant extract. I tried it and hated it (I also tried the Tropicana drink with stevia and hated that too). And it seems I’m not alone as Life sales have apparently dropped by more than 50% this year. The people at Coke say they’re not bothered as it was only meant to be a ’niche’ product but they must be disappointed. Me? I’m just about to crack open another can of Diet Coke cheers!