What Coca-Cola Can Teach Us About Failure

April 23, 1985 was a date that will live in infamy.

The sales of Coca-Cola had been decreasing for over 15 years, and the company decided something had to be done.

They did their research.

They tried different formulas and ran taste tests with over 200,000 consumers.

A ‘New Coke’ was created.

But the moment they announced the change, their customers went crazy.

Complaints flooded in.

Some customers purchased multiple cases of the ‘old Coke’ to store for the day they wouldn’t be able to find it anymore (they had a strong ‘reason to act now’).

The emotional connection people had with the brand was more important than the taste tests.

Customers felt betrayed they were losing out on something they grew up on.

The company gave up on the change just a few months later on July 11, 1985.

It wasn’t all bad. The passionate outcry for the original brand boosted overall sales by 8%+!

So this major blunder turned into a success story for them.

What can we learn from this?

Research is awesome. You should be running surveys. You should interview customers to find out what they want.

But when the rubber meets the road, customers vote with their wallet.

Numbers matter.

If you launch a new promotion and it doesn’t turn out the way you expect it to…be willing to change.

And if something isn’t working in the business right now, it’s time to test something new.

Sales had been declining. They announced the switch, created an uproar, and sales increased…for the older product that was being switched out.

In fact, some people said the entire promotion was just a marketing stunt, although Coca-Cola has denied that.

Whether it was an ingenious marketing stunt or a marketing disaster, the end result was the same.

Sales increased because of the story…and the passion it brought out.

What lessons can we take away from this? There are multiple.

Be willing to test something new.

Make a big deal about the change.

Listen to your customers.

In the end, watch the sales numbers.

Grow with what works. Cut the rest.

Not every promotion will be home run, and you don’t need it to be.

You just need to keep getting back up to the plate.

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About The Author

Terry Dean

Terry Dean has been in full-time internet business since 1996 and has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get started online through his articles and products. He lives in Ocala, Florida with his wife and 2 dogs. Find out more about how the Monthly Mentor Club can help you today.