SURGE is a citrus flavored sparkling soft drink that The Coca-Cola Company launched nationally 1996-2001. In the its inception, SURGE was positioned as the “Mountain Dew Killer" brand, with the company investing in national promotion and distribution. SURGE was ultimately pulled from the market in 2001 due to declining sales and a shift in focus. Even being off of he market, the brand developed a “cult following."
Ten years passed, but the SURGE love did not die.
In, 2011 The SURGE Movement was founded by superfan, Evan Carr, on Facebook as a way to foster and grow a community of SURGE fans and to convince The Coca-Cola Company that a demand still exists. This group continued to gain traction over the years.
in 2014, The Coca-Cola Company began to distribute beverages on Amazon. This unique partnership now allowed the supply chain to produce limited batches of SURGE but distribute product nationally.
On September 5, Coca-Cola brought the SURGE Movement admins to Atlanta for a "meeting" to discuss the future of SURGE. It was the first time that the admins had met in person. However, instead of a formal meeting, Coca-Cola threw a surprise launch party and allowed them to taste the first SURGE produced in 13 years, straight from the production line.
On September 15th, The SURGE Movement and the new SURGE twitter handle announced the return of SURGE. Within 3 hours, SURGE was sold out on Amazon but the fan love continued to grow on social media and surpassed all expectations.
The (re)launch of SURGE on Amazon established many "firsts" for The Coca-Cola Company:
1. First time The Coca-Coca Company brought back a discontinued brand
2. First launch only supported by digital and social media
3. First eCommerce only launch
The goal of the the limited launch of SURGE on Amazon was to understand if the demand for SURGE could be sustained and to show consumers that the company was listening to them and took their requests seriously. As a result, the company made a strategic decision to establish a social platform (@SURGE on Twitter) to directly communicate and respond to fans throughout the process.
The Amazon launch exceeded all business expectations. Key wins noted below:
• #1 top selling grocery item on Amazon
• #1 top performing SSD in total category on Amazon
• #4 most purchased item by Amazon student members (college 18-21)
• #1 most search item on Amazon.com (9/15); #5 (9/22), #6 (10/11)
• >180MM estimated impressions within first week of launch - all organic
• Higher engagement and growth rate on social media than most top SSD / Energy Drinks
• SURGE Movement Facebook Page grew 80K fans since September 15th
After four months on Amazon.com, SURGE is now being tested in select test markets in the southeast. The success and growth of fans on social media proved to the company that consumers are still engaged and invested in a product they loved from the 1990s. The future is still to be determined!