the New Coke strategy: lessons not learned

You no doubt remember, assuming that you are old enough, the fiasco of the New Coke that was introduced in 1985. The Coca Cola Company assumed that cola drinkers would love the new product and that it would be great for sales. They were certainly wrong. Coke drinkers were infuriated and the company had to backtrack and introduce Coke Classic.

It’s been thirty years and companies seem not to have learned. Here is my current example.

I grew up eating Farmer John link sausage. Farmer John was part of my childhood after all. I heard Vin Scully talk about Farmer John on Dodger radio broadcasts. (“The eastern-most in quality; the western-most in flavor.”) There was Dick Sinclair’s Polka Parade on channel 5, sponsored by Farmer John.

In Gilroy, Terry and I fixed a big breakfast on Saturday morning that included scrambled eggs and sausage. We did the same on holidays. Generally we would have homemade country sausage from or local Rocca’s Market. But every once in a while we would get Farmer John’s because Terry had similar childhood memories to mine. The last time we got Farmer John sausage it tasted different. Terry and I agreed that it had a sort of maple taste. We weren’t happy.

farmerjohnWe don’t fix sausage much at home here in Hemet because we have breakfast with my family on Saturdays. But I decided to pick up a package of Farmer John for Labor Day. I was surprised, but pleased, when I saw two different packages, one clearly labeled “Maple” and one clearly labeled “Classic.” I picked up the classic, of course.

On Labor Day Terry and I were delighted to experience that familiar taste that we grew up with.

But you would think that these companies would have learned not to mess with the loved and familiar.



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