Have you heard about this, kamikaze branding strategy as the name suggests is a strategy where a brand launches a brand that is intended to fail and also damage the competitors in the market.
Sometime in the 1990s, PepsiCo launched a colourless soft drink named Crystal Pepsi, at that time consumers at large were equating clarity with purity and health. Crystal Pepsi became an instant hit owing to several clever marketing strategies and advertisements of PepsiCo. It was marketed as a caffeine-free "clear alternative" to normal colas. Its flavor was like the standard Pepsi, but the caramel colour was absent making the drink less "acidic" tasting within a short span of time Crystal Pepsi captured a full percentage point of U.S. soft drink sales, amounting to approx. USD 474 million.
Source- https://the-soda-encyclopedia.fandom.com/wiki/Crystal_Pepsi
On the other hand, The Coca-Cola Company (Coca-Cola) was trying to recover from its launch New Coke launch. It was so bad that Coca-Cola was forced to introduce the original coke within 77 days rebranding it as Classic Coke. With a sharp decline in its market share, Coca-Cola needed an excellent comeback to redeem itself. Coca-Cola launched a competing product with the brand Tab Clear which was never built to succeed but was a “suicidal” and “kamikaze” marketing effort of Coca-Cola to destroy Crystal Pepsi.
It was marketed with an emphasis on real cola flavor, indeed “a mouthful of flavor,” but in actuality, it was the original sugar-free diet cola that was “sweetened” with saccharine and never tasted good. This was revealed by Sergio Zyman, Head of US Marketing for Coca-Cola in an interview which was published in a book named “Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to to topple the Goliath in your industry”.
Source- https://www.flickr.com/photos/paxtonholley/3987454368 Coca-Cola
basically created a bad-tasting beverage on purpose and positioned it as a comparable /competing product to Crystal Pepsi and create consumer confusion. This was done by placing Tab Clear in shelves in close proximity to Crystal Pepsi in all departmental stores and grocery stores. Coca-Cola capitalized on the lack of clarity of consumers regarding Crystal Pepsi and hence it caused the desired confusion it wanted. Consumers got confused into thinking Crystal Pepsi was also a sugar-free diet drink owing to the lack of understanding and misunderstood it as a medicinal drink. The image of a Coca-Cola Tab Clear bottle from the year 1992 has been reproduced for ready reference of the reader, one can see that the words SUGAR FREE and CALORIE FREE have been clearly written in Bold on the label, whereas Crystal Pepsi label only has its brand name written.
The brand Tab Clear was dead in a span of a few months but so was Crystal Pepsi; Coca-Cola achieved what it wanted. Both brands were discontinued within 6 months from the launch of Tab Clear
General understanding says Crystal Pepsi didn’t exactly fail on its own merit. Coca-Cola targeted and eliminated it from the market, however from the standpoint of a Consultant, I would say, Pepsi lacked in providing clarity to its consumers about the nature of its drink. When Tab Clear was getting marketed as a sugar-free , calorie-free medicinal drink, PepsiCo should have devised a marketing strategy to differentiate its product from being confused with Tab Clear or as a medicinal sugar–free drink. Prompt action could have saved Crystal Pepsi from vanishing from the market, from being kamikazed!


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