As Coke Resurrects an Old Brand Questions Arise as to Why

When a company makes a decision to pull a product from the market, in most cases the decision is a final one. The product has reached the stage of its product lifecycle where it just does not make sense to continue selling the product nor are there other companies interested buying the product so it can continue to be sold.

However, it is not always the case that a dead product remains dead. For instance, a classic example is the revival of Classic Coke, which in the 1980s reentered the market after being displaced by New Coke. More recently television shows, such as Arrested Development and 24, have been brought back to life following requests from thousands of fans. And on a smaller scale, a regional candy product name Astro Pop, which had a strong following in the early days of the space race only to see interest in the product fizzle, was brought back to life by a fan that just happened to own a candy company.

The key reason products seem to be returning from the dead is almost certainly due to the power of the Internet and social media. Both make it extremely easy for likeminded consumers to voice their opinion on products for which they have a strong allegiance. Of course, from the marketers’ side reviving an old brand sends a message that they care what their customers want and, if lucky, remarketing the product could turn out to be a profitable decision.

Another example of customers reviving an old product can be found in this NBC News story (via Today Show website). It talks about a Coca-Cola product called Surge, which is similar to Mountain Dew, that was pulled from the market in 2002. The soda giant is returning this product following high customer demand. What is interesting about the reinstatement of this brand is that it will only be sold online through Amazon at what appears to be a pretty stiff price.

The fact Coke is resurrecting Surge in this manner is something that raises several marketing questions. For instance, is Coke primarily testing distribution through Amazon rather than in retail stores as an experiment that may lead Coke to distribute other specialized products? For example, using Amazon to distribute Coke in special limited-edition bottles? Alternatively, does Coke just see Surge for its PR value rather than as a money-making product that will occasionally be available in the same way McDonalds treats the McRib sandwich?

Also, the relationship between Coke and Amazon is another interesting part of this story. If the sale of Surge is wildly successful, will Amazon share buyers’ information with Coke so they can target these customers with other Surge products, such as tee shirts? Moreover, if they do, will future sales of Surge have Coke selling directly to the customer?