Inca kola is a very successful cola soft drink made in Peru. It is common in parts of South America, and while it has not enjoyed major success elsewhere, it can be found in Latin American specialty shops worldwide. The sweet flavor reminds some people of bubblegum. Inca Kola is yellowish-gold in color, and sold in glass and plastic bottles of various sizes and a can of the same color with an Inca motif. As of 2005, Inca Kola is sold in supermarkets in the United States in 2 liter bottles, cans, and individual bottles.
In the early years, Inca Kola began to slowly erode Pepsi and Coca-Cola's market share through aggressive marketing and low prices. Its standing as the only national drink greatly helped to win over customers as more and more people converted for nationalistic, price and flavor reasons. The combined marketing muscle of Coca-Cola and Pepsi could not unseat Inca Kola as the most popular drink. Inca Kola began a marketing campaign that offered money and marketing assistance to small and medium-sized restaurants. Additionally, the brand focused its marketing efforts on campaigns to persuade consumers that Inca Kola was a better complement to food than Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
Rivalry and strategic alliance with Coca Cola
As a result of the Pepsi debacle, two rivals were left in Peru to battle in the soft drink wars, Coca-Cola, with a 21% market share, and Inca Kola with the lion's share of 35%. Coca-Cola aggressively marketed its drink in all places, from the smallest corner store to the largest sporting event in Peru. Attempting to reinvent itself as a drink to be enjoyed with foods, a massive marketing spree tying Coca-Cola to any and all possible meals was begun, going as far as promoting itself along other brands, restaurants and placing "Coca-Cola Girls" in every possible corner of Lima.
First, Bembos, a national fast-food chain that eventually bested McDonald's and practically drove out Burger King from Peru, switched from Coca Cola to Inca Kola after failing to reach an agreement. The restaurant offered better service and a flavor more in tune with national tastes. It forced Bembos to switch brands almost overnight. Later, when the two companies joined, Bembos began to sell both Coca-Cola and Inca Kola side-by-side.
Second, and as a result of Bembos and market studies, McDonald's forced Coca-Cola to allow Inca Kola to be sold in its locales (at the time, the only place in the world where Coca-Cola agreed to such an arrangement). This was the final blow, as Inca Kola had been able to come between eternal partners McDonald's and Coca-Cola.
In 1997, The Coca-Cola Company began to negotiate with the Lindley corporation, looking to buy it out, as the Lindleys had been shopping around for a partner. A deal was established in 1999 where Coca-Cola bought 50% of the Inca Kola Corporation and 30% of the Jose R. Lindley Corporation for 300 million dollars, and ceded all bottling rights for Coca-Cola products in Peru to the Lindley Corporation; a joint-venture agreement was forged for foreign markets, whereby Coca-Cola would use its marketing power to push Inca Kola in other countries. To date, Ecuador and the United States (mostly New York and the rest of the Northeast) are two of the countries where Inca Kola is bottled by the Coca-Cola Company.