Coca-Cola has figured out a way to get feedback on the more than 20 new drinks it plans to launch next year — and charge people for the privilege.
The company yesterday launched the Coca-Cola Insiders Club, which for $10 per month or $50 up front (with one month free), grants subscribers six monthly shipments of “three category-spanning beverages — from AHA flavored sparkling water to Coke Energy — plus a few surprises and swag,” according to a press release. Sounds appealing, right? Well, the 1,000 subscriptions on tap sold out in three hours, but Coca-Cola invites you to join its waitlist, which more than 8,000 people have already done.
While the company said it was inspired by the success of the ecommerce subscription market and the online excitement around Coke Cinnamon, it also seems to point out that the program is a great way to build buzz. “Coca-Cola North America is treating the program as a pilot as a proof point of the company’s entrepreneurial, test-and-learn culture,” the release says. “The team will monitor sales, feedback and social media buzz and consider expanding beyond the six-month trial.”
It’s a smart bet. If the company launches a product that Insiders Club members love enough to post about, it will create pre-launch buzz at a great discount. But on the other hand, if the Insiders bash a product, it will surely create curiosity. Research cited in Harvard Business Review showed that negative reviews of an obscure product actually led to increased sales.
If Coca-Cola, which calls itself a “total beverage company,” decides to further pursue a subscription service, the economics may be in its favor. As long as the shipping costs aren’t too great, $10 for three beverages could bring in some profits. And, if you’re like me, you may be more likely to subscribe to a service that lets you try new drinks rather than buy them a la carte in the store, if they even get to stores, that is.
If Insiders Club does prove to be a success, it could become like the Apple Arcade or Netflix of beverages, as long as Coca-Cola keeps rolling out variations of its products that keep people curious.