Can we take a new formulation change of Coca-Cola?
The pandemic has took everything dear from us says Andrew Lloyd of Beaver, PA. Can we take another change to something we hold dearly?
This month, Coca-Cola’s Coke Zero will have a new taste and a new look. However, people are less focused on the packaging change and more concerned about the change to the recipe.
While the company promises it won’t change the base ingredients or the nutritional information, they say they want to make the most of their ingredients as well as the Zero Sugar Flavors.
Although taste tests and sales where the product is already being sold have been positive so far, many are hesitant to trust them. Considering the failed flavor change in 1985, it’s no surprise.
Andrew Lloyd of Beaver, PA is one of those souls.
When he closes his eyes, he can still remember those little moments at seven-years-old that Coke had been such a huge part of.
His father was a Pepsi man through and through, but his mother was a wild thing. His dad would sometimes grab a Pepsi only to realize his mom had filled an empty bottle with Coke. Andrew Lloyd even helped her do it on April Fool’s Day once or twice.
But there was one moment that Andrew couldn’t help but think about.
The little boy had his nose pressed up against the beige wallpaper, trying not to give in to temptation and turn around to watch the little box TV playing an old Western. The soft padding of feet stopped behind him.
“Have we learned our lesson?” his mother’s airy voice asked.
“Yes.” Andrew whispered.
“What did we learn?” she asked gently.
“When Daddy says he needs a drink, he doesn’t mean in his lap.” Andrew murmured. “I’m sorry.”
“You can turn and face me, baby.” she said, and Andrew turned around. Instead of seeing harsh anger or cool disappointment, she had a gentle smile. She reached out a hand, and after a moment, Andrew buried his face in her stomach, wrapping his arms around her middle.
“It’s okay, baby.”
“I thought it would be funny.”
There was a pause, and then his mother admitted “It was a little funny.”
Andrew looked up at her, eyes wide. “It was?”
“Yes, but you have to listen to me, Andy.” she said, steering him to the kitchen. “You need to think before you act. If it’s funny, but it hurts someone, is it really funny?”
“No.” Andrew said.
“Right.” she said, pulling a Coke and a Coke Zero out of the fridge. She twisted the cap off the Coke and went to hand it to him before pulling back at the last second. “Now, how would you feel if I spilled this in your lap?”
Andrew’s face twisted. “Wet?”
Andrew hesitated before he said “Embarrassed. And maybe sad I didn’t get my Coke.”
“So what should you do?”
She smiled at him. “And who do you say sorry to?”
“That’s right.” his Mother said, setting the Coke down in front of him.
Andrew sat there for a moment, staring at the coke but not reaching out to grab it. “Do I have to say sorry now?”
“No. You can have your Coke first.” she said, uncapping her Coke Zero with an amused twist to her lips. “Then you should say sorry.”
Andrew grinned, and the two clinked their drinks together before drinking them there together at the table. Andrew told his mother tall tales, and she laughed and gasped at all the right moments.
It was a good day.
“My mom passed away during the pandemic.” Andrew, now thirty-two, says. “It was difficult, because we couldn’t see her in the hospital. I started drinking Coke Zero after that, you know? Reminded me of her. Now I don’t know.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many people lost loved ones, jobs, and even their homes. With so many things up in the air, the general populace seems to be clinging to any stability they can get.
As such, it begs the question:
Why did Coke decide to change their recipe? When nostalgia and customer loyalty is such a huge part of marketing, it’s a risky choice. Will it pan out or will we see a repeat of 1985 when Coca-Cola was forced to return to the original recipe after only three months?
Now, the newest update "optimizes existing Coca-Cola Zero Sugar flavors and existing ingredients," according to the Coca-Cola Company. Company leads are pushing back to any criticism. They say that taste and preferences are always changing. We will have to see. This new product is going to debut in August.
Social media was quick to remind Coca-Cola of its former recipe change disaster. Are they right? Andrew Lloyd of Beaver, PA says “Coke zero is my go to zero calorie drink. How could they change it?” The rebrand in 2017 of the Coke Zero product even left a flood of negative reviews.
Andrew Lloyd explores why a company might change a popular product.
About the author
Hi. Andrew Lloyd from Beaver, PA here. I enjoy posting stories about business and marketing. I hope the stories from my desk in Beaver, PA help you. Check Andrew Lloyd's Substack to get the latest: https://andrewlloydbeaverpa.substack.com/