X is Elon Musk’s New Coke

Nobody was clamoring for a new formula

Barry Lyons

--

“I’ve never been as confident about a decision as I am about the one we’re announcing today.” That’s what David Keough, the president of Coca-Cola, said on April 23, 1985, which was the day the company held a press conference at New York City’s Lincoln Center to announce the introduction of the company’s “New Coke.” Keough’s confidence was grounded in some data that indicated consumers would prefer Coca-Cola to be a bit sweeter (like Pepsi). So Coca-Cola locked away the old formula, New Coke was introduced — and consumers soon besieged the company with angry phone calls demanding that the company bring back the old formula. What went wrong? With presumably solid data as their guide, how did Coca-Cola screw this up? “[C]onsumer research,” said Keough, “on the new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to original Coca-Cola felt by so many people.” Two months later Coca-Cola reversed course: they pulled New Coke and brought back the old formula.

By contrast, when Elon Musk bought Twitter and said some major new changes would be forthcoming, he announced these changes with zero data indicating that people wanted Twitter to change. If anything, users wanted things to stay the same but with some added features, such as the ability to edit tweets. Instead, Musk just barged in…

--

--

Barry Lyons

Not a fan of sports or religion. I guess that makes me a bad American.