Validating the pepsi challenge
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pepsi steadily gained on Coke in terms of market share.
Characters in the ads always picked Pepsi, of course, but so did most people who tried it in real life—the sweeter taste was more appealing.
The challenge originally took the form of a single blind taste test.
At malls, shopping centers, and other public locations, a Pepsi representative sets up a table with two white cups: one containing Pepsi and one with Coca-Cola.
For the past 18 months the company has been working on a set of methodologies to validate the kill step in the oat kiln process, testing salmonella in particular.
But Paul Young, senior process authority at Pepsi Co Europe, said this had been no easy task because the validation step faced a number of challenges.“It’s taken some engineering solutions and very challenging ideas,” he told attendees at Campden BRI’s Snacks Technology conference last week.“You’re talking about 18 tonnes of material in one go with large processing vessels, physical constraints, uneven flow and varying residence times.”Temperature profiling the key?
It’s almost impossible to get the device through there – it would take me over a week to get it through and because of how the product moves, you’re not going to get clear data.” But, he said advances in data logging technology meant Pepsi Co was closer to achieving temperature logs in the kiln.“Once you understand the temperature profile attached to the product, then you can use and modify the pilot kit to (validate the kill step).
In a world beset with soft drink advertising, how could you It was one of the greatest marketing coups of all time.
Thus was born the dread New Coke, a sweeter cola reformulated to best both Pepsi and the classic formulation of Coke in blind taste tests.
The backlash was fast and furious, with over 400,000 letters of complaint pouring in to the company.
Despite declining market share, Coke was still by far the market leader over Pepsi—and the company’s millions of loyal customers weren’t looking for a new flavor.
Pepsi recorded the fastest year-on-year sales growth in the company’s history during New Coke’s first month, while a consortium of Coca-Cola bottlers decided to sue the company for changing the product.