Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Sometimes the world realigns in subtle ways and sometimes there is an explosion. Today while reading the newspaper ( I know, how old fashioned) I discovered two changes in the world that rocked my socks.
The first was that Coke's sales have been dropping for the last few years. Apparently Canada's coke has more sugar in it than other countries. Coke, in a last ditch effort to reverse their declining sales, are taking some of the sugar out of coke in their main "secret recipe" which is guarded in Atlanta -- the recipe that only 'two live' people at a time know. ( The dead may know it at will.) I love that it was called Coke because it originally had cocaine in it at the turn of the century. And people wonder how it got such a foothold in America!
A branding expert said in the paper that coke is becoming aware that people want a healthier alternative to a sugary, caffinated, fattening drink. The world is voting with their pocket books by buying water and tea and leaving Coke on the shelves.
I remember in the 1950's when I worked in my dad's drug store people would ask for a pop and that meant Coke. If you wanted some other brand from the giant red Coke cooler you'd have to ask. It was rare to sell a lunch at the counter without a coke to go with it--- from a glass that said Coke Cola on it in white letters.
Coke has been tampering with its formula for years-- offering a new formula which their stalwart followers refused to buy so they had to bring back the old formula in the form of Coke Classic and then later fade out the new model when no one was looking. That is an interesting way to avoid saying you made a mistake.
Now for an even bigger seismic shift in the universe. I read ---on the same day as I read about the Coke failure that --- barbie dolls are losing their market share and have been in free fall decline for the last three years. They are now down by 21%. Barbie has been Mattel's biggest seller for -- get this-- 54 years! The Barbie marketing people and re-branders have decided to deal with this billion dollar problem by revamping an already vampy look. They are giving Barbie a narrative. Everything now needs a narrative to sell. They are doing a Barbie movie casting Barbie as a superhero and a princess.
I was too old for barbies, they were invented after I was a kid, ( Another sociological factor that places me in the dementia demographic) but I did sell them. I remember when being a blonde with gigantic breasts, small waist, and a huge wardrobe was as close to nirvana as you could get. Three generations were happy to ride into the sunset in a pink car with Ken in the passenger seat. ( Hey, at least he wasn't driving!)
Current statistics on Barbie show that girls of past generations used to play with Barbies until they were 14 years old. Now they play with her until they are six and move to an I pad. She's lost her edge. Those girls that have turned away say Barbie is 'babyish.'
I recently saw a New Yorker cartoon with a political candidate asking a crowd if they wanted change. Everyone in the crowd raised their hands. Then he asked how many people wanted to change and no one raised their hands. What I like about the Coke and the Barbie product change is that people have voted with their wallets for change. They are saying I don't want to drink secret formula garbage or play with a bleach blonde bimbo who looks like a pole dancer. Those days are over. They had a long run. Coke has been going since 1896 and barbie has been donning skimpy ensembles for over half a century. But their days are numbered. Let the re-branders redesign all they want. They are only rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic. Their era is over--- Barbie has driven out of town in her pink convertible with a Coke Classic in her beverage holder.