Coca-Cola has been the undisputed carbonated soft-drink throughout the world for several decades now.
Although Pepsi had given a few sleepless nights to Coca-Cola due to it winning most of the taste competitions, the fact remains that Coca-Cola is still the primary choice for customers and has always been beating Pepsi by miles.
While most of us would find no significant difference between the tastes (except for a few who have very strong sensory levels and can differentiate between the two), we still end up choosing Coca-Cola over any other soft-drink at a party or during celebration with friends & families. But why do most of us choose Coca-Cola over Pepsi? Is it due to their “secret” formula (recipe) which gives it a unique taste and hence gets us hooked to it? But if taste is really the factor, then why did Pepsi, which has always been winning the taste competitions lose out the race?
The real answer to it actually lies in psychology. The success of a product depends not only on its quality or cost but also on several other factors including experience, the emotions it invokes, the memories people tend to associate with it, the satisfaction it offers and more (Reminds us of Steve Jobs?).
Let’s dive into the history of Coca-Cola to find out more.
Started in the late 19th century as a medicine (to relieve exhaustion), Coca-Cola quickly evolved itself into beverage over the next few years and by 1920s, it had undergone changes in taste & added more fizz to appeal to masses. Coca-Cola knew that the secret to success was not just in offering a great soft drink but to make people subconsciously crave for it.
Over the next few years, the company undertook intensive research on how its fizzy drink evoked feelings into people’s minds. One such test was the color+taste test in which a person would be fed a few drops of Coca-Cola while showing him a certain color and observing his brain activity. This experiment was repeated for several colors and with hundreds of people for the next few months and the result was that a certain shade of red color triggered the maximum sensations in the brain region related to emotions, happiness, celebration etc. Coca-Cola decided to use this shade of red for all its marketing & product packaging purposes.
The next step was to create a mammoth campaign to portray Coca-Cola as the brand for celebration & happiness. What could be better than associating it with Christmas, the festival of celebration in America. Until then, Santa Claus was a mythological character which came in all possible shapes and colors. The following vintage clay models depict different colors & forms of Santa during early 20th century:
In the early 1930s, in order to promote their trademark red color (which created the maximum sensations in brain), Coca Cola “invented” the modern Santa Claus, (not exactly “invented” but promoted that particular form and the company’s aggressive marketing helped turn it into the standard Santa), an overweight, jolly white bearded character, and was influential in popularizing the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” in mid 1930s.
In this manner, by inventing & marketing the modern Santa in red, Coca-Cola had already established itself as the beverage for celebration during 1930s. Apart from the marketing aspect, the special shade red color, patented & used by Coke, is based on intensive research which has been influencing our sub conscious minds.
Even today, Coca-Cola is synonymous with “Celebration & Happiness”. Their aggressive campaigns & print ads with dominant red color along with their subliminal messages about “Celebration” & “Happiness” can be found everywhere and have been influencing our sub conscious minds.
So, the next time you find your friend grabbing a bottle of Coca-Cola over Pepsi (but has no strong reason to explain the preference) during a celebration or party, blame it on the trademark red which evokes brain activity & the effect of subliminal (sub conscious level) marketing which has made Coca Cola synonymous with happiness & celebration. It is not the “secret” formula (recipe) but human psychology which has made Coca Cola a successful drink and hence the first preference for most of us.
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