MundoAndino Home : Peru Andes Travel: Peru culture, lodging, travel, and tours

Inca Kola

Inca Kola (also known as Inca Cola or "the Golden Kola") is a Peruvian soft drink with a sweet fruity flavor sometimes compared to bubblegum. The maker is 50% owned by The Coca-Cola Company. Inca Kola is exported to parts of South America, and while it has not enjoyed major success elsewhere, it can be found in Latin American specialty shops worldwide. Inca Kola is yellowish-gold in color, and sold in glass and plastic bottles of various sizes and cans of the same color with an Inca motif. Inca Kola is sold in supermarkets in the United States in 2 liter bottles, cans, and individual bottles. Inca Kola is available in Canada at many Wal-mart Supercenters.


In 1910, in Rimac, one of Lima's oldest and most traditional neighborhoods, an immigrant English family began a small bottling company under their family name, Lindley. In 1928, the company was formally chartered in Peru, whereupon Jose R. Lindley became its first General Manager.

From local beverage makers, Lindley learned of an ancestral concoction based on Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla), Hierba Luisa in Spanish. He experimented with various mixtures, other ingredients and levels of carbonation until finally, in 1935, the company launched "Inca Kola" under the slogan "There is only one Inca Kola and it's like no other" (Inca Kola solo hay una y no se parece a ninguna).

By the mid 1940s, Inca Kola was a market leader in Lima. Bottling volume expanded greatly, growing steadily and positioning it as a traditional Peruvian drink, using national and indigenous iconography and images.

Inca Kola reached levels of 38% market penetration by 1970, eclipsing all other carbonated drinks in Peru and firmly establishing itself as "Peru's Drink" (La Bebida del Peru). A common logo in the late 1970s and early 1980s featured the slogan "Made of National Flavor!" (De Sabor Nacional!), later changed to "The flavor of Peru" (El Sabor del Peru).

On January 22, 2009, Inca Kola partnered with D'Onofrio, an iconic Peruvian ice cream brand owned by Nestle, to launch an Inca Kola flavored popsicle.


Marketing victory

In the 1980s, Pepsi's campaign "Pepsi Challenge" (El Reto Pepsi) backfired and helped to virtually destroy the Pepsi brand in Peru, due in large part to the fact that consumers did not enjoy being told they were wrong. The campaign established tasting centers in and around Lima where people could freely participate in a blind taste test between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Attendees were presented with two covered bottles and two glasses, each bottle was opened and poured into its respective glass, whereupon the tester was asked to drink each and declare his or her favorite, but not before being asked which brand they preferred and drank regularly.

The campaign proved to be a disaster; three results came from the testing, all detrimental to Pepsi: 1) People were angered by the fact that they were "wrong" in their choice and abandoned Pepsi, switching to either Coca-Cola or Inca Kola; 2) Those who chose Coca-Cola over Pepsi either switched to or stayed with Coca-Cola; 3) Those who were ambivalent between them overcame their ambivalence and aligned with Inca Kola. Additionally, the costs of the Pepsi Challenge, which started to run into the millions of US dollars, coupled with managerial mistakes left CEPSA, the local Pepsi licensee, virtually bankrupt.

A "fact" that has been repeated many times in Lima, yet the only source is a television interview with an employee of a local polling firm, is that over 80% of the people who took the taste test chose Coca-Cola, this being attributed to the fact that Coca-Cola had long since changed the formula for Peru (one of only three countries with that privilege), adding more sweetener to the mix in order to better fit the local palate.

As a result of this campaign, Pepsi's market share dropped to a virtually non-existent 3%, and remained as low until Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other Pepsi properties established themselves in Peru, selling only Pepsi products in their outlets.

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.

The closest Coca-Cola ever got to Inca Kola was in 1995, when they were neck and neck with 32% and 32.9%, respectively. That year, however, Bembos, a national fast-food chain, switched from Coca-Cola to Inca Kola. Second, as a result of Bembos and market studies, McDonald's forced Coca-Cola to allow Inca Kola to be sold in its locales .

In 1997, 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 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.

Secondary market

During the time that the two giants were negotiating, various smaller companies began to emerge in Peru, selling drinks that competed both with Coca-Cola and Inca Kola . These competed mainly on price, since, by reverse engineering, they had all come up with formulas that emulated the originals almost undiscernibly. They began to quickly eat up market share in low-income sectors of the country with down-home advertising which appealed to those families.

Their main point of attack was the fact that Inca Kola was no longer a Peruvian company, having sold out to a foreign company, and therefore not deserving of their money.

During 2004 Jose R. Lindley started talks to buy out Embotelladora Latinoamericana S.A., who held the Coca-Cola franchise in Peru, owned by Embonor, a Chilean bottler. As a result, in early 2005 a deal was struck for some 150 million dollars, which resulted in the consolidation of the Coca-Cola system in Peru. Jose R. Lindley now markets all the Coca-Cola products as well as Inca Kola, with a combined market share of around 60%.

Current situation

Inca Kola : 31%

Coca-Cola : 26%

Kola Real : 17%

Pepsi (AmBev): 8%

Sprite : 4%

Others : 14%

Currently, the situation stands with Inca Kola as the leader and Coca-Cola second, with the surprising Ananos Group and their Kola Real as a close third. Overall, the Coca-Cola system leads the market.

Popular culture

Inca Kola appears in the popular Troma movie Tromeo and Juliet.

See also

Isaac Kola


Triple Kola


Eric J. Lyman In the Company of Giants: Inca Kola, 1998

External links

Inca Kola home page (Corporacion Jose R. Lindley S.A.)

Inca Kola nutrition


Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about Peruvian beverages or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Inca Kola

Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009