Marketing the Mission to the Consumers


Remember 1985’s New Coke story? In less than three months, New Coke was withdrawn from the market due to consumer backlash.1 The backlash was not at all about the new taste. In the mid-1980s, Coca-Cola was already part of the pop culture in the United States. Consumers felt a bond with the brand and its infamous secret formula. The New Coke ruined the bond and thus, consumers rejected the new product launch. In Canada, it was a different case. New Coke was well-accepted because Coca-Cola did not have iconic status there. In the United States, it was a costly flop but Coca-Cola could by then be sure that consumers were guarding the brand.
In the contemporary world of the twenty-first century, the scene repeated. This time, it happened to IKEA, the affordable Scandinavian-design furniture retailer. In 2009, in a cost-saving move, IKEA changed the official font from the stylish custom-Futura to the functional Verdana.2 Consumers reacted with outrage and the conversation spread widely on Twitter. Again, consumers tried to guard the brand they had bonded with. Social media helped in spreading the complaints faster and wider.
When the New Coke case happened, many marketing pundits believed that it was a case of product development failure. The Coca-Cola management simply misinterpreted market research findings and therefore misunderstood consumers’ needs and wants. However, when a similar situation ...

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