Monday, August 2, 2010

Size matters, or it doesn't - are the new Coke bottles too tall?

I was reading FriendFeed on Sunday when I found this thread started by Katy S. She said, in part:

The new diet coke 2-liter bottles are just enough taller than the old ones that I can't place them upright on the top shelf of my refrigerator.

She also noted that her grocery store moved the 2-liter Coca-Cola products to the top shelf. Perhaps they wouldn't fit on the other shelves?

Katy also noted that others are complaining about this. I found comments on Epinions, Consumerist, the Indian Consumer Complaints Forum, and The Rock Band comment is from May 2009, so this has been around a while:

I usually store my 2-liters on the shelves in the door of my fridge, but they are too tall for that. They're also too tall for the regular shelves in my fridge if I don't adjust them (which would involve removing all the food in my fridge, taking out my dairy box, and being a general pain in the ass).

In a way this is surprising, because large corporations often engage in all sorts of consumer research before they introduce a product, and you would think that such an inconvenience, even if it only results in relatively few complaints, would stop the product design process dead in its tracks.

In addition, one would think that complaints would result in a Coca-Cola withdrawal of the product. After all, New Coke disappeared fairly quickly.

So why did Coca Coca introduce the "too tall" bottle? I poked around and found a 2008 press release that discussed Coca Cola's reasons:


BIRMINGHAM, June 13, 2008 - Coca-Cola North America (CCNA) today announced the pilot of its signature contour bottle in a convenient two-liter size, beginning this week in Birmingham and Chattanooga. These cities were chosen to introduce the new version of the company's most enduring icon because of their longstanding loyalty to Coca-Cola and the strength of their local Coca-Cola bottler, Coca-Cola United.

The new two-liter form of Coca-Cola's iconic package was preferred over the straight wall two-liter bottle overwhelmingly in recent consumer tests* and offers a significant advantage for consumers beyond its classic good looks -- it is also easier to hold and easier to pour. The new Coca-Cola two-liter contour plastic bottle will be available in stores throughout the two cities beginning June 16.

And it turns out that the research people were involved:

Importantly for customers, research conducted by CCNA with consumers suggests that the two-liter contour package has the potential to re-energize sparkling beverage sales in their stores as well.

Because, you see, it appears that the real reason for the new bottle is looks:

"Along with Coca-Cola's one-of-a-kind real cola taste, the iconic shape of the contour bottle is what people love most about the brand. They are both a part of its timeless magic," said Hendrik Steckhan, president and general manager, Sparkling Beverages, Coca-Cola North America. "We want to offer our brands to consumers in a special way that fits their needs for all contemporary beverage occasions. When you enjoy your family meal together, sharing an ice-cold Coke from a contour bottle is just 'the real thing'."

As it turns out, I don't buy two liter Coca-Cola bottles, so I've never encountered this problem myself. Have you run across this issue? Are you working around it?

[Image courtesy The Coca-Cola Company]
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