13 March 2006

Research isn't always right

Red Splash is keen to promote the use of research to reduce the risk of launching a new product or service. That isn’t to say that research will always produce a sensible answer. History shows that research can let down the largest and most sophisticated organisations. You may remember that a few years ago Coke introduced New Coke after very careful, and secretive, market testing:

New Coke was a response to the steady erosion of Coke’s market share by Pepsi over a number of years, supported by TV advertising which showed that in blind taste tests, consumers really did prefer Pepsi.

In response, Coke developed an alternative recipe which outperformed Pepsi in blind tasting and launched New Coke on an unsuspecting market. This was close to a marketing disaster.

The key problem was that Coke had been telling the world for years that “Coke is the real thing” and overnight they attempted to say “We didn’t mean that at all, we have another product to launch”. Eventually New Coke was allowed to disappear and Classic Coke became Coke again.

Amazingly, consumers now viewed “Coke is the real thing” with a sense of nostalgia. Blind taste tests or no, Pepsi was holed below the waterline and their market share fell steadily.


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