The History Of Coca Cola Soda
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Dr. John Stith Pemberton in the summer of 1886 came up with the coca cola formula. He made a concoction of lime, coca leaves, cinnamon and seeds from certain Brazilian plants to come up with this formula. This was the birth of a legend that is the Coca Cola soda history. Dr. Pemberton was a pharmacist based in Atlanta, Georgia, the brand name was as a result of a suggestion put through to him by Frank Robinson who was a book keeper. Frank Robinson was gifted in art and it is him who created the now famous Coca Cola logo. Due to a prohibition law at that time the situation persuaded him to rename the cities most popular remedy for headache, which was as a one of his products, to Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. Pemberton died two years after his discovery, but the syrup he created and it’s trademark outlived him and are still here with us. Pemberton’ syrup was later improved by the addition carbonated water to form the Coca Cola as it is known today.
In it’s debut year Coca cola sold 3,200 units in Atlanta , this is nothing compared to its current sales which are in billions all over the globe. Coca Cola is currently a $ 50 billion business headed by Roberto Goizueta. It is believed that the rate of consumption of Coca Cola products is at over $8 billion a day. It is a key employer to many in various countries and a key source of income to some entrepreneurs. For example, Confederate lieutenant colonel who earned his medical degree at the age of nineteen, set up several businesses including the Coca-Cola Co., in 1995 he had sales of over $15 billion.
Dr. Pemberton never fully realized the potential of his invention. His successors like Asa Candler, Robert Woodruff and Roberto Goizueta took the honor for the commercial success and the improvement in taste that the brand has enjoyed over the years. Pemberton was more interested in expansion for the market for French Wine Coca, a beverage made from coca, therefore when the prohibition law was lifted in 1887 Pemberton ventured into the Pharmaceutical business and left the Coca Cola production under his son Charles.
At first, Pemberton (jnr) envisioned a future in the soft drink industry and convinced six businessmen to join him in the venture but he soon lost interest in it and started selling his interest. According to his son he must have thought the venture had a bleak future, and decided to venture into more promising proposition.
Coca Cola was first sold in a public place in the Soda fountain in Atlanta on the 8th day of May 1886. The first years of business were generally marked by generation of losses. Their initial bad fortunes changed with time and by the end of the 20th century Coca Cola was one of Americas most used beverage (Pendergrast, 104). This change in fortune can be attributed to several key changes especially in the leadership and marketing strategies that were introduced with the entry of Asa Candler as the key man in the helm of it’s leadership.
Asa Candler, who worked for Pemberton, took control of the company after his death. According to his son, Charles candler, his original plan after taking control of Coca Cola in 1891 was to improve the taste and quality of the product. He brought with him major improvements to the young company. First, he ensured the
Coca Cola logo and formula were patented in 1893. One year later Asa also opened first syrup manufacturing plant to increase the production capacity of the establishment (Allen, 46). With this came the need for mass production of bottles which by 1899 he had managed to. Advertising is viewed as one of the key contributing factors to the increase in sales of the product in the early 21st century in Canada and US. He orchestrated mass marketing and advertising strategies that saw saw the company start making profits. One key aspect in his marketing strategy was the contour bottles that came into use in 1915 after the Root Glass Company was contracted by the Coca-Cola company to meet their bottling needs. These bottles were more fashionable than the previous ones and thus created more appeal to the consumer.
One key problem that the Asa era was faced with was increased opposition to Coca Cola products by the government and their competitors. Until 1905, the drink contained extracts of caffeine and cocaine which as the company claimed were for their remedial effects. In the turn of the century there were new legislations being put in place to curb the ever growing problem of drug abuse. These legislations included the ban on use and sale of cocoa product for they contained noticeable levels of cocaine. Competitors also put up claims that the Coca Cola product was a misrepresentation. In spite of all this obstacles, Candlers business acumen had already ensured the products were major household name in the USA by 1895.
Robert Woodruff succeeded his father as the head of the Coca Cola company in 1923 and stayed as the head for nearly five decades. He came up with several strategies to ensure and improve the Coca Cola company’s success. He first, raised the price of the syrup to distributors and increased efficiency at all levels of the manufacturing process. This was aimed at improving the product quality and the rate of production. To increase production, networks of bottling centers were created in all major cities and under Woodruff Coca Cola Product grew from a national to an international product name. In fact under him Coca Cola was global in an age where globalisation was yet to be achieved. He also had major technological and marketing improvements for instance, bottled sales were higher than fountain sales leading to the introduction of the six- pack in 1928. In 1929 Coca Cola introduced top coolers, this was complemented in 1933 by the debut of the automatic fountain dispenser.
Before the start of the first world war Woodruff had already expanded Coca Cola to forty four countries and by the end of the war the number had doubled. Apart from this he made available the Coca Cola Bell glass and ensured the availability of Coca Cola to vending machines in 1929. He further embarked on an extensive campaign to promote the product by advertising in Radio and TV around the world. The 60’s witnessed the introduction of Coca Cola products in restaurants and fast food restaurants. The sale of such products was previously restricted to drug stores and soda fountain counters. Currently the rate of consumption of Coca Cola products is so high and they can be bought from almost any kind of vendor. The late seventies witnessed the occurrences of several key improvements in the Coca Cola company. These were the introduction of the plastic bottle, the coming into use of the two liter bottle and the patenting of the contour bottle.
Two decades after the war Goizueta was elected the head of the Coca Cola corporation and he immediately embarked on a mission to make Coca Cola the best performing brand in the US. The sales continued on their upward trend and the introduction of Diet Coke in 1982 was seen as the most successful product launch of that decade. Under him the product has improved and the company has continued to enjoy growth in it’s capital base(Greising, 23). One key aspect of his reign is the continued inclusion of the society in Coca-Cola’s policies. For example, in the 1996 Olympics that were held at the home of Coca Cola, Atlanta the company engaged in various community services like offering scholarships, creating hot lines and donating to those in need. This according to the Company head is a way of paying back to the society since without the community they wouldn’t have made it. The companies trend and help towards the community is evident in all the countries that it is involved in and it is still among the worlds favorite brands.
The success of the company has also witnessed some key stumbling blocks. There have been some marketing blunders in it’s history for example, one of the worst marketing blunders in the history of Coca Cola was witnessed in 1985 when the company decided to phase out the old coke for a new formula they found while researching on the diet Coke. The decision came about as a result of market research which showed a significant preference for the new formula, the fall of Coke’s market share and the death of Robert Woodruff who until his demise had opposed any move to change Coca-Cola’s formula. The results were disastrous as the sales dropped rapidly and their capital base dipped suddenly a the management was thus forced to reintroduce the old coke. Another stumbling block has been legislation in certain countries which have not favored conducting business in India for instance, Coca Cola was not introduced until 1991 because of their legislation which made it mandatory for all business to disclose their trade secret information which didn’t go well with Coca Cola.
Allen, F. Secret Formula: How Brilliant Marketing and Relentless Salesmanship Made Coca-Cola the Best-Known Product in the World (1995) pp. 45-50
Greising, D. I’d Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta, John Wiley & Sons (June 1999) pp. 22-30
Pendergrast, M. For God, Country, and Coca Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It, Basic Books (March 2000) pp. 101-105