Reports in May said Coca-Cola might possibly join the massive wave of Western brands suspending operations in Russia. The soft drink giant’s possible pullout has made import substitution especially relevant. The Tochka Rosta consumer market research agency conducted a taste testing of various Russian-made drinks to find the best alternative to the original American soda.
More than a hundred respondents aged 18 to 25 participated in the blind testing. These people are the main target consumer group of this category of drinks. They were asked to compare Russian brands including Cool Cola Ochakovo, Cola Chernogolovka and Kalinov Cola with original Coke.
After separately evaluating the taste, aroma, and aftertaste of each drink, the majority of respondents preferred Cola Chernogolovka.
“We have the clear winner, although, to be honest, our expectations were different. We thought the entire group of Russian brands would lose to the original Coca-Cola. Forget the expectations; the actual result was surprising anyway. Cola Chernogolovka won in terms of aroma, carbonation, closeness to the classic Coca-Cola taste, actual taste, sweetness and many other criteria,” said Roman Shalimov, research director at Tochka Rosta.
The runner-up, Cool Cola’s, taste appeared to be close to the winner, but some of the other measurements were not quite as good, and Ochakovo’s drink took well-deserved second place.
Kalinov Cola’s profile was significantly different from its competition. Its main problems were excessive sourness and sweetness, and an aftertaste that was a bit too strong. The manufacturer definitely needs to focus more on these taste properties.
Kalinov Cola also differed from the other products in price, closeness to the original Coke taste, originality of taste and others.
“It was curious that most consumers participating in the testing chose Cola Chernogolovka over the original drink. It’s a highly unusual result, very rare in our practice,” Roman Shalimov said.