The Psychological Failure of New Coke

Why the biggest marketing disaster in history didn’t have to go wrong…

Jen Clinehens
Choice Hacking


Source: Image created by the author

It's one of the biggest fails in business history — New Coke.

You might think you know the story. A classic brand foolishly replaces its classic product, and customers rebel.

But contrary to popular belief, New Coke was a great idea and a great product - even if it was a huge marketing disaster.

It's all down to five common psychology traps that Coke fell into (and you could, too).

1. The Cut-Throat Cola Wars

In the 1980s, Coca-Cola was at war.

They were duking it out with their biggest rival, Pepsi, who at the time was winning. And not by a little.

After World War II, Coca-Cola owned 60% of the cola market, but by 1983, it had less than 24%. All because of competitive pressure from Pepsi.

The brand launched a nationwide taste test called the Pepsi Challenge. People were blindfolded, given a sip of Coke and Pepsi, then asked which soda they preferred. And people, especially young people, overwhelmingly chose Pepsi.

It was clear that when it came to taste, Coke had a big problem. And they did something that any brand…



Jen Clinehens
Choice Hacking // Brands win when they know what makes buyers tick (behavioral science, psychology, AI)