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Posts from November 2009

I Can See That Change Was Just Too Hard For Us

Friday 27th November 2009

I’m going to talk about Coke for a bit. Bear with me, because there is a point. Apologies if anyone knows the background already.

In the 50s, Coke had over half of the market share. By the 80s, this had dropped to about a quarter, and Pepsi was beginning to outsell it. As a result, Coca-Cola decided to do some taste tests to see which drink people preferred. Pepsi was the most popular, with people saying that they preferred it because it was sweeter. Due to this, Coca-Cola decided to change the recipe of Coke to make it sweeter, and started to test new recipes in blind taste tests alongside “old” Coke and Pepsi. As a result of these tests the company came up with a recipe that was more popular than “old” Coke or Pepsi, and the decision was taken to use this new recipe for Coke.

Coca-Cola decided that rather than sell this as a new variety they would simply replace their current Coke with the new one. They also decided to announce the change and to publicise it (see this rather hilarious news report). Pepsi, by the way, took it as indication that they had won the Cola Wars (I shit you not), and gave every employee a day off work to celebrate.

This is a probably massive oversimplification of what happened, but basically the new recipe wasn’t a success. Despite the fact that most people did indeed prefer New Coke in a blind taste test, there was a massive backlash against the company which eventually led to the old recipe being reintroduced in less than 3 months (it was referred to on the floor of the Senate(!) as “a meaningful moment in U.S. history”). People didn’t like the idea of Coca-Cola, a drink which had (to their minds, at least) stayed constant for decades and decades, suddenly changing.

It’s easy to stick with the familiar. Easy and comfortable. But how do you know if your perception of something is changing your actual experience of it; how do you know if the idea of what Coke is, is changing your taste for it? And whats to say that you wouldn’t actually prefer New Coke if you tried to get used to it?

Of course, the Coke recipe has changed a bit over the years – even before New Coke. I think it’s even varied depending on the region where it’s going to be sold, so that it appeals more to the taste of people there. And the epitaph to the story is that after the original recipe for Coke was re-introduced, sales shot back up. So, was the attempt to introduce the new drink a massive flop, or a really masterful marketing campaign?

(btw, just thought I’d mention, Coke > Pepsi. Fact)

Posted In: SleepStuff Tagged: | 10 Comments

The Sum of the Parts

Friday 20th November 2009

This is something I’ve been thinking about recently, and was going to write some of it as a comment on Andy’s most recent post, but thought I may as well expand on it here.

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As most of you probably know, I live in Wales at the moment. The Welsh are fairly patriotic and proud of where they come from, so being English I naturally come in for a certain amount of stick, and it kind of makes you think about the whole nationalism thing.

Wales is currently in the process of devolution; moving power over Wales away from Westminster and to the Senedd, a really rather snazzy building in Cardiff Bay. I’m very uneasy about the idea of devolution. I suppose a cynic would suggest that I’m bound to be, because I’m and Englishman and devolution removes power from England, but I don’t think that’s why. I think it’s just such a backward step; instead of drawing dividing lines around the country, we should be coming together as one and moving forward. If there’s a Welsh government, a Scottish government, an English government and a Cornish government (yeah, Cornwall wants devolution too. Crazy, isn’t it?), then each individual country is going to be less well off in pretty much any respect than if we all stayed as Britain.

Even the word, “devolution”, hints at this. It’s the opposite of evolution; a regression from a devloped state towards a more primitive one. I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would support it, other than pure nationalism. But that’s a rubbish reason. If we remained as Britain, with one government, then how does that get in the way of patriotism? A Welsh person can still be proud to be Welsh, in the same way that a Geordie is proud to be from Newcastle. You don’t need to be an independant nation for that to happen.

So applying the same logic to Europe, surely we’re better off a part of it? In fact, I’d go one step further and suggest evolution; a United States of Europe. Why is that a bad idea? Each country should still be able to govern “internal” affairs, in much the same way as American states do, but it makes sense for one central government (made up of representatives from around Europe) to do everything else. If that happened, a united Europe would wield more power in international politics than it does currently, because at the moment the power is diffused between a number of countries.

Like with devolution, the only argument against this that I can think of is nationalism, but again that’s a really awful reason. Using America as an example again, most Americans seem to be proud of their state and of their country; the fact that the state is one of 50 neednt undermine that patriotism.

Posted In: Politics Tagged: | 8 Comments