Why Coca-Cola Is Being So Secretive About What’s In Its Beverages

Coca-Cola won't reveal it's beverage recipes because the soft drink company believes it's more fun that way.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

When it comes to soft drinks, Coca-Cola is the gold standard of the entire industry. Due to incredible advertising and an amazing product, there probably isn’t a single person on the planet who isn’t familiar with the brand. With no one left to convince, the company launched a limited series of “Creations” sodas whose flavors – Starlight, Byte, and Dreamworld – supposedly represent the abstract. For each drink, the beverage giant offered high-concept descriptions of an experience, rather than specific flavors.

This sparked curiosity about the ingredients that went into these unique flavors. For the soda-maker, the mystery is the point. “We’re engaging with people,” Global Category President of Coca-Cola Trademark, Selman Careaga told CNN. “They’re interacting with us, and they’re trying to guess what’s in it.” Creating talking points is an important marketing strategy for the company, especially if it creates interest among young folks. As such, the “Creations” drinks are part of a new innovative platform, described as the perfect combination of marketing, creative design, and tech.

coca-cola dreamworld
Coca-Cola Creations Dreamworld

Speaking about Coca-Cola’s approach to marketing, Editor of Beverage Digest, Duane Stanford said the company has been trying to encourage people to debate over their products. This was evident when the company unveiled its new Coke Zero recipe, which is designed to taste more like regular soda. As part of the launch, customers were encouraged to decide if it was the “best Coke ever.” And, according to CNN Business, the beverage maker has also been selling mystery flavors of Fanta as part of its “What the Fanta?” campaign.

The idea of creating conversations around new product flavors is not new. In the restaurant world, popular chains have had incredible success with unique food combinations and limited-time offerings. Coca-Cola simply wants people who engage in (or see) discussions about their weird new products, to think about them when they walk into a store. And it’s very important for the company to create chatter around its flagship product, which it has prioritized after cutting a few underperforming brands. Additionally, these flavors aren’t just a showcase.

With the launch of every Coca-Cola Creations flavor comes a specialized online experience. Together, they’re designed to capture the attention of the coveted Gen Z demographic. And it seems to be working. Although YouTubers reviewing the different flavors rolled their eyes at the “silly” advertising, they still tried to figure out the taste, encouraging their followers to weigh in. Some thought Starlight tasted like cotton candy or funnel cake, while others said that Byte contained hints of blueberry or grapefruit.

When the beverage giant launched Dreamworld, a lot of people said tasted like mango, peach, or orange. Others said it reminded them of cough syrup. While some brands roll out mystery flavors, they eventually reward customers with a reveal and Coca-Cola’s Fanta flavors will be unveiled as well. But Starlight, Byte, and Dreamworld’s flavors are staying in the vault. “In a way, it’s like our secret formula,” Careaga explained. And in this case, the flavors aren’t really the point.”