In 2006, Coca-Cola, with a vision to extend its beverage portfolio away for carbonated softdrinks and to increase its affinity towards the adult market, launched Coca-Cola Black in some countries in Europe and in the United States. Coca-Cola Blak provides its market with a feel of froth similar to coffee and cappuccino and competes head-on with Pepsi Max Cino. It was suppose to be an innovative product which will trigger interest and excitement in a very fragmented and developed beverage market. However, the product was discontinued in the United States in 2007 for several reasons. This paper will attempt to evaluate the promotional and marketing activities supporting the introduction of Coca-Cola Blak in the U.S. market and what should have been done to improve these.
In a review written by Lori Hutson (2006), a number of people were asked to try the new product. Most of them revealed that they could not tell what the beverage is. Apart from being undefineable, some said that the product had too much sugar, unpleasant taste, odd taste, among others. Hence, given this, it can be deduced that Coca-Cola Blak has a problem with its formulation, particularly taste.
It is difficult to increase affinity towards a product, however appealing or vast a brand’s promotional and marketing campaigns be, if the product’s problem is taste. An advertiser cannot promise good taste to a consumer if the product will not give this to the market. Hence, a worth investment should have been put into market research, particularly concept test coupled with a product test. Market research is a worth investment especially for products which have high risk of failure in the market. Apparently, the concept of cola being mixed with coffee was one of the craze of softdrink companies but they learned after a while that this concept doesn’t work. Read also IFE matrix of Coca-Cola
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Another factor that lead to the failure of Coca-Cola Blak was price.
According to one of the respondents in Hutson’s (2006) article, it was priced too high at $1.99 per 8-ounce bottle. Price was also believed to be a problem by one of Coke’s marketing executive during the time it was discontinued (Steve 2007). If taste was a problem, this product will not be able to defend its price premium. If taste was excellent, then there should have been a bigger chance for the product to be worth $1.99 per bottle investment.
Another factor that contributed to its failure was the name (Blak) and its tagline (“carbonated fusion beverage”). Both do not convey to the consumers what drink it is exactly hence, there was a confusion on its flavor. Coffee was placed somewhere in the small prints in the bottle. Coca-Cola could have come up with a better name than Blak or a better tagline than “carbonated fusion beverage”. The brand should have ensured that the consumers would determine right away what the beverage was. This is very important especially in a market where choices were so many and consumers do not have all the time to think about all the beverages that they meet in the grocery shelves.
When looking at the product’s advertisements, it shows that the product, to an extent, is confused about who its target market is.As indicated by Choueke (2005), Coca-Cola Blak was suppose to reach the adult market (i.e., 30 years old and above), but in one of its teaser advertisement, one you could hear children screaming 1-2-3 in the background. The visuals and mood of the advertisement seem to be the usual contemporary pop art used by Coca-Cola in its mainstream products which are more appealing to teenagers and young adults. If Blak was suppose to speak to consumers 30s and above and to effectively differentiate itself from the mainstream Coke products, these visuals should not have been used by Coca-Cola.
- Choueke, Mark. “Coke plans coffee drinks in a bid to reach adult market.” Marketing Week, 12/15, 28:50. 2005. < http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdf?vid=4&hid=9&sid=c25a9930-010e-4c28-9b80-3185e88973ad@SRCSM1>
- Cleghorn, Danielle. “Why Coca Cola Blak Failed.” Associated Content: Business and Finance. 2008. 27 April 2009. <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1066360/why_coca_cola_blak_failed.html?cat=35>
- “Coca-Cola Blak.” The Beverage Industry’s Source for Product Reviews, News and More. 2006. 27 April 2009. <https://www.bevnet.com/reviews/coke_blak/Coca-Cola_Blak>
- Hutson, Lorie. “Coca-Cola Blak’s Multiple Flavors Confuse, Displease.” Spokesman – Review. 2006. 18 April 2009. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nfh&AN=2W62W61086948394&site=ehost-live>
- Steve. “Discontinued: Coca-Cola Blak.” BevReview.Com. 2007. 27 April 2009. <http://www.bevreview.com/2007/08/31/discontinued-coca-cola-blak>
- “Coca-Cola Blak.” Online advertisement. YouTube.Com. 2006. 18 April 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa81O4h5Ns0&feature=related>
- “Coca-Cola Blak Writer.” Online advertisement. YouTube.Com. 2008. 18 April 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aVAW0zfhqw&feature=related>
- “Coca-Cola Blak Musician.” Online advertisement. YouTube.Com. 2008. 18 April 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcZcHxAmZlo&feature=related>
- “BLAK COFFEE - 35mm Coke Blak Spec Spot.” Online advertisement. YouTube.Com. 2007. 18 April 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFVuX6xQUQs&feature=related>
- “Anderson Cooper tries Coke Blak.” Online advertisement. YouTube.Com. 2006. 18 April 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J-q-o6zqdY&feature=related>
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