Why is it that our generation is never really satisfied with what we have? We live in a time where technology and product innovations are constantly being developed to improve our lives, yet this isn’t enough. We want more. We miss our old Disney and Nickelodeon shows, Nintendo 64s, music videos on MTV and Wonder Balls. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, or maybe it’s because we want to be reminded of a simpler, more carefree time. Nevertheless, we’re utilizing social media platforms to express our wants and desires, and companies are starting to notice.
Take Coca-Cola, for example. In 1996, Coca-Cola developed and sold a citrus-flavored soda called ‘Surge’ to compete directly with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew (Lobosco). After 5 years of bleak sales, Surge was taken off the market to the dismay of its loyal fans. Upset with the loss of their soda, Surge lovers took to Facebook and created a fan page called ‘The Surge Movement’ in an attempt to win it back. The page was highly receptive and has attained a massive following of over 140,000 fans. Realizing the amount of consumers willing to purchase their product, Coca-Cola stepped in. Last Monday the 15th, the company offered consumers a limited supply of Surge, sold exclusively on Amazon.com. The supply quickly sold out twice in just one day. There’s no guarantee whether Surge will be back for good, so if you’re suddenly craving the bubbly, citrus-flavored soda, follow @SURGE on Twitter for updates on when it’s back in stock.
Now, Coca-Cola isn’t the only brand cashing in on our generation’s nostalgia. Burger King has recently unveiled the return of its highly demanded and highly anticipated Chicken Fries. These delicious strips of lightly breaded chicken were introduced in 2005 and later taken off Burger King menus in 2012. In their seven years on the market, the Chicken Fries built up a loyal fan base that wasn’t ready to let go of these fry shaped chicken delights. Thousands of people tweeted, posted and even created a petition that was sent to Obama in an attempt to bring back the Chicken Fries. Well, their pleas were answered this summer when Burger King reintroduced the product in restaurants across the nation. Accompanying the introduction, Burger King ran an extensive marketing campaign to promote and inform consumers about the return of their beloved Chicken Fries. Burger King advertised the product through a variety of channels including TV, radio, and a variety of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr and even Snapchat. There’s no telling how long the Chicken Fries will remain in restaurants this time around, as Burger King reps are merely saying they will be offered ‘until supplies last’ – which could very well translate to ‘whenever sales slow because the people who wanted them back don’t want them anymore’. Burger King – along with companies in a similar situation – are hesitant to reintroduce a previously discontinued product for good, out of worry that it will ultimately fall out of public demand as it had before. By offering products for a limited time, consumers are encouraged to purchase a good while they can, increasing demand for that good and ultimately spurring sales. It is for this reason (among a few others) that companies will offer limited time products at designated times throughout the year, e.g. Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes or McDonald’s McRib.
Although our generation can be considered slightly spoiled and privileged, it’s quite invigorating to see how much power we have as consumers. If we want a product or good, all we have to do is express interest and companies rush to meet our needs. Customer really is king – or queen – and the quicker that companies realize what we want from them, the greater their chance to make a profit. Brands often spend millions of dollars attempting to create new products and offerings for consumers, only to have them turn out as huge flops (McDonald’s Pizza, anyone?). So when a brand’s customers describe exactly what they want from that company, it should be taken advantage of.
In my opinion, the next brand that should attempt to capitalize on such consumer expression is Post Foods in bringing back its Oreo O’s cereal that disappeared from American stores in 2007. The cereal is still being readily manufactured today in South Korea, much to the jealousy of Americans who are a fan of the brand. A grey-market exists for the cereal through Amazon.com and eBay, where South Korean merchants sell the product to buyers around the world for upwards of up to $6 a box. The amount of people constantly writing about wanting this product back is astounding, simply search ‘Bring back Oreo O’s cereal’ on Google and read through the various Facebook comments, Reddit threads and blog posts to get an idea of how passionate consumers are about getting this cereal back. And why wouldn’t they be? The product is a combination of Oreos, marshmallows and milk in a purely breakfast-cereal form. So, if we want to see this cereal back in stores, we’ll have to write letters, tweet, and possibly even start a petition to make our wants as consumers heard on a large-scale.
Lobosco, Katie. “Remember Surge Soda? It’s Back.” CNNMoney. CNN, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
The Burger Nerd. “McDonald’s 1990’s Pizza Commercial.” Youtube. Youtube, 4 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.