Thursday, April 25, 2013
"Coca-Cola Zero" could have a better name
For the Tanzanian market, I would have advised against calling a drink "Coca-Cola Zero." In certain contexts "Zero" for Tanzanians carries a negative connotation.
When studying marketing ages ago, I learnt that the makers of Coca-Cola had done extensive research before choosing the name and when the did they chose a name that can be comfortably pronounced in all the major language groups known to humans. True, but only to a certain point. I have heard people asking for "Coca-Cora" and others asking for "Cock."
The point is accepted nevertheless that where there could be doubt in what a seller in China might have heard being requested by a Tanzanian visitor, with a few repetitions the Chinese vendor would have understood and the Tanzanian would have a Coca-Cola in hand and contributed to the 1.2 billion 8 ounce servings of Coca-Cola that are consumed in the world every day.
"Zero" reminds most Tanzanians of a cartoon strip character with the same name who is famous for not being the most intelligent person. You might hear in Kiswahili conversation of someone labeled "zero" to connote an absence of basic knowledge, incapacity to think, or endowed with questionable character traits.
The effects of a poor choice in naming a product can be trivial for a company's earnings. But sometimes it can affect sales. In the 1970s American Motors introduced a new car model to the American automobile market, the AMC Matador. "Matador" in Spanish means "killer", a name that most drivers who understood Spanish would not have wanted to associate with a car they drove.
Most likely, drinkers of this new drink would not want to be likened to Zero the cartoon strip character.