If you’ve never been to The World of Coca-Cola (aka the Coke Museum) in downtown Atlanta, GA, you must go. The museum – specifically its Sampling Bar – is a veritable shrine to taste marketing.
Taste marketing is used by the drink industry, including Coke, to research consumer flavor preferences and capitalize on those preferences. Years, sometimes decades, of very expensive taste-testing research often go into finding out what flavors consumers like most. The goal is to give buyers more of what they crave and keep them coming back.
If you reside in North America, you probably know Coca-Cola as a dark, sugary, carbonated concoction that guarantees refreshment. (FYI, the original formula for this icon of American life is in fact so secret that it’s under lock and key in a Fort Knox-style vault on museum grounds.)
If you live outside North America, however, you may experience this can of liquid pleasure – and other similar beverages in Coke’s product line – quite differently. As Coke corporate effervescently explains:
We work locally, tailoring our drinks to local tastes. Some flavours are more popular in one country than another, and often there are different ingredients available in different countries. So while some of our brands such as Coca-Cola, are available in nearly 200 countries worldwide, others are only available in particular countries.
Coke is saying that a multi-national product line such as theirs demands some degree of variation based on their audiences’ different palates. Coke is keenly aware that the market drives flavor development. That’s why Coke in some countries may be sweeter or may have slightly different ingredients. It’s also why various other products in the Coke family may taste fruity (Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand) or coconuty (BiboCandy Pine-Nut from South Africa).
Coke wisely understands that a product must resonate – in this case at taste-bud level – with its audience, whatever its geography or palate. Here’s to kicking back a cold Coca-Cola, wherever you may sip.