Coke not taking advantage of being 2nd

When I first heard that Coke would be releasing a slew of “catch up” products, I had high hopes that Coke might flex its muscle and produce some interesting and innovated products. What they actually produced was Full Throttle, Gold Peak, Blak, and Godiva Belgian Blends. How do these products stack up? Full Throttle is good, probably the best thing Coke’s come up with recently and it definitely has a shot. Coke Blak is blah; coffee cola didn’t work 7 years ago and it won’t last now. Gold Peak is just plain bad. And Godiva Belgian Blends won’t make a dent in the Starbuck’s Frappuccino empire.

Coke seems to have missed out on the advantages of NOT being first to market. Especially important if you’re playing “catch up”, Coke should be striving to finish with a leg up on the competition (Pepsi, Red Bull, Snapple, Starbucks, etc). After all, Coke has had plenty of time — in some cases years — to look at the leaders in tea, energy, and coffee and see what has worked and what hasn’t. Unfortunately though, few of these new products offer anything that can’t be found elsewhere in a more superior form.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what caused this….Bad corporate culture stifling innovation? Too many focus groups creating products for the least common denominator? Lack of R&D talent?

Feel free to post your take…