As a certified Tabaholic (defined as one who is addicted to the sassy, crisp taste of Tab), I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase. And I confess that on more than one occasion I’ve walked into a new client marketing meeting with Tab in hand knowing it may generate that much-needed ice breaker discussion. “TAB! Where’d you get that? I didn’t know they still made it.”
Tab was first introduced by Coca Cola in 1963 and remained popular through the 1960s and 1970s. Then along came Diet Coke in 1982 and everybody jumped ship. Well, everybody except me and those in the Tab fan club – accounting for about 3 million cases sold yearly.
Unlike the rest of this saturated diet soda market, Tab still uses saccharin giving it a unique, less sweet flavor. I’ve heard it likened to drinking diesel fuel. Having never tasted diesel fuel, I cannot attest. However, it’s so unique that I’ve packed a few cans in my stowed luggage and taken it all over the world with me. I have photos of Tab at the Eiffel Tower, Iguazu Falls and Blarney Castle to name a few. A few years ago, I even carried it halfway around the world to South Africa.
But imagine my surprise when walking around the harbor in Cape Town, I spotted a sandwich sign board advertising icy cold Tab outside of a café. Crazy! And an instant jet lag cure! Those South Africans love their Tab – it was everywhere.
What amazes me about this brand (other than its absolute deliciousness, of course) is how it manages to survive. It has a very loyal cult following, for sure. but other than the sandwich sign in SA, it hasn’t been marketed in decades. And I live in constant fear that it will simply disappear someday.
Several years ago, after searching for it for days without success, I feared that day had come. I called my local Coca Cola bottler to find out what had happened to my beloved beverage and was informed it was a temporary removal due to repackaging. I think I must have asked for an exact date, time and location when it would be back in stock as I remember him chuckling and patiently saying “I promise you. It will be back.”. I’m guessing I was not the first rabid Tab fan he’d heard from that day.
From a marketing perspective, I think it would be easy to utilize this loyal audience to help promote and expand this niche brand. Ask Tabaholics to broadcast their love in a sharing campaign by posting photos of where they’ve taken their favorite soda and maybe a new audience would be intrigued enough to try this offbeat drink.
There are other grocery brands on the Do Not Resuscitate list found here. Is one of your favorites included? Or what do you dread the disappearance of? As for me, if they stop making Tab here in the U.S., there’s always South Africa…