Does Coca-cola Really Have a Unique Recipe to Survive for Over 150 Years?

A well-recognized soda drink or we can say a soft drink, Coca-cola commonly known as Coke has been able to gain people’s interest and attention for over more than 150 years. It is not just a soda or a soft drink, but a brand and an emotion itself.

Despite many controversies regarding its harmful side effects and the fact that it’s just the mixture of water, sugar, and some edible acids, which obviously is not much of a good addition to our health, it sells over 1.8 billion of its bottle every day and 10,000 of the same bottles every second globally. It makes US$ 1 Billion from each of its other 20 sub-brands. You probably are wondering, “How did coca-cola come this far, knowing the fact that it’s just sugar, water, and acid which is disastrous to our health?” So, let’s find this out.

History and Present

The Coca-Cola brand was founded by Asa Griggs Candler. He was an American business tycoon and politician who purchased Coca-Cola recipe in 1888 for US$ 238.98 from chemist John Stith Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia. Candler founded the Coca-Cola Company in 1892 and developed it as a major company, which is more than just a brand in 2021.

Confederate Colonel John Sitith Pemberton, wounded in the American civil war and addicted to morphine, also had a medical degree and began to find the substitute for the problematic drug. He then developed a substitute for the drug, which may have been inspired by a french Corsican coca wine with the addition of African kola nut, the beverage’s source of caffeine.

coca cola bottle

The company first began bottling Coca-Cola on march 12,1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Since then they became unstoppable regardless of many ups and downs for the company and tough rivals, which included the bitter rivals Pepsi, introduced just 4 years later. Both companies have been tough rivals in the soft drink market since then but it seems as if Coca-Cola has always been the number one.

To be honest, Coca-Cola has not only been the winner against Pepsi but with other competitors, which includes many healthier soft drinks than Coca-Cola. So, the only thing keeping Coca-Cola alive in the market for all these years is its ability to attract customers using different marketing strategies. So, let’s find the kind of marketing strategy,  Coca-Cola implies to be alive in the market, from the official start of its journey up till the year 2021, with an experiment conducted by a scientist, Reed Montague in 2005.

Reed Montague Experiment on Coca Cola Recipe- 2005

A scientist, named Reed Montague, conducted an experiment in 2005, to try and understand what exactly was the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which is more preferred by the consumers. So, he conducted this experiment, dividing it into three different stages.

Reed Montague experiment

In the first stage, he placed two bottles with Coca-Cola and Pepsi each, without labels or should we say without the logo of the drinks in the bottle. He then requested the subjects (consumers) to come and taste the drinks from each bottle. He scanned the subject’s brain with fMRI scanner(brain scanner). He observed that people were not able to differentiate between the two drinks; which one is Coca-Cola and which one is Pepsi. And was the same when he checked the fMRI scanner- no changes.

In the second stage, Mountague puts the labels back on the bottles. He again called the same subjects, also now they know which one is Coca-Cola and which is Pepsi, and asked them to taste the drink from each bottle. There was again no change shown in the fMRI scanner when they tasted Pepsi. But, the moment they tested Coca-Cola there was a significant change seen in the scanner. With the observation of the second stage, Mountague for once thought that there was something unique in the recipe of Coca-Cola.

In the last stage, he swapped the logos of the drinks. Now the bottle with Coca-cola was labelled as Pepsi and the bottle containing was Pepsi labelled Coca-Cola. Mountague, for the last time, asked the subjects to taste the drinks from each bottle. So, when the drink was tasted from the Pepsi labelled bottle, there were no changes shown by the fMRI scanner. But when the drink was tasted from the Coca-Cola labelled bottle, a significant change was shown by the fMRI scanner.

coca cola vs pepsi

Now, from these three experiments, Reed Mountague understood that it wasn’t the bottle, taste of the drinks or the subjects, it was just the brand name and the flash red colour logo that was making the difference.

It clearly justifies the billion-dollar budget they take out every single year to establish themselves as a brand icon of happiness, which is through advertisements. Looking at the previous data, the company has spent $20 billion in the last 5 years only on advertising. Also, the company does this with fewer and fewer flaws every year.

Marketing Strategy- Coca-Cola

To understand the brilliant and unique Marketing Strategy of Coca-Cola, let’s first know what is perceived value and the tangible value of any product in short. In simple words, tangible value is the value of the product itself or let’s say, the quality that the product gives to its consumers while perceived value is what we try to sell the customers and the experience that the customers from using the product.

Coming back to The Marketing Strategy of Coca-Cola, the tangible value of the product is nothing but sugar and sugar is bound to give a feeling of pleasure, as to say it scientifically. But for the perceived value, Coca-Cola does a brilliant job by connecting itself with the people, through the emotion of happiness. It tries to cover the only two things that connect people together globally, which is sports and festivals, in their commercials. So, though the coca-cola recipe is not so unique it still stands out in the market due to the people and emotions they try to hit on in their ads.

They target celebrities and athletes of the biggest sports in the world to sponsor and advertise their products. It’s not just being the sponsor that does the brilliant job, but the commercials of their product. They don’t advertise the product in their commercials, but the emotion of joy connected to the sport and show their product for just a flash of 5 seconds with the biggest name in particular sports as their brand ambassador, like Sachin Tendulkar for cricket who is also considered as the god of cricket, Wayne Rooney for soccer and LeBron James for NBA Basketball.


Though the coca-cola recipe is known to be secret all these years, the main ingredient here is their advertising strategy. Due to their correct marketing strategies, consumers are easily attracted to the drink regardless of the ingredients used in the drink and their harmful effects.

Everyone has their own interest and choice to consume a product or not to consume the product. But I would rather advise you not to fall for their emotion-based commercials and limit your soda consumption after being aware of the harm it does to our health.

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