How Free Samples Helped Turn Coca-Cola Into A Food Industry Giant

Building a business is not for the faint-hearted. Starting a company from scratch is something only truly determined people can accomplish, as it requires relentless enthusiasm, dedication, and funding. Even if you do have the resilience and the gusto to set out on a business venture, you also need a limitless imagination to create a brilliant product and marketing plan. 

Marketing your product is key and when it's not done right, failure may be on the horizon. You might be surprised to learn that one of the world's most well-known companies almost failed when it was initially launched, but a genius marketing plan helped make Coca-Cola the biggest beverage company in the world (via Advertising Hall).   

Although no one realized it at the time, in 1886 the world was changed forever with the invention of the first Coke (via The Coca-Cola Company). Created by pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton, the original mixture of syrup and carbonated water was judged to be "delicious and refreshing," and was sold for $0.05 per glass at the local pharmacy. 

Coca-Cola gave millions of free samples away and it paid off

Despite the endorsement of the carbonated concoction being "excellent," Pemberton struggled to get the soda off the ground and sadly, never witnessed the tremendous success that was to be (per Coca-Cola Company).

Selling only nine Coca-Cola drinks a day at $0.05 each simply wasn't sustainable. The company was bought in 1888 by Asa Griggs Candler, who took the idea of free drink tickets, created by Pemberton's bookkeeper, and ran with it. Per Wired, this was believed to be the first-ever coupon and the premise behind it was simple: use your voucher to claim a free glass of Coca-Cola.

Wired reports that Candler sent out free drink coupons and as a result, 8.5 million of them were redeemed by 1913. This certainly boosted the publicity of Coca-Cola, helping the company to sell over 1.9 billion drinks daily in over 200 countries by 2020 (via Coca-Cola Great Britain).