Business, Finance & Economics

Cola for the Muslim World

There's a minor clash of civilizations going on in places like this arcade in southern Thailand, a soda clash. Coke and Pepsi are ubiquitous in Thailand but neither of the Western brands are stocked in this arcade. Instead they used Mecca Cola. Two months ago this company based in the Middle East started sending thousands of cans to the southern provinces of Thailand, which are majority Muslim. The brand appeals to Muslims says the store owner. Mecca Cola's can looks strikingly like Coke's but the similarities end there. displayed on the can are signs that it's made on dietary Muslim law and it's targeting consumers like this 14 year old boy who comes to the arcade during breaks from his religious school. I had to do a taste test. Mecca Cola isn't quite as fizzy as Coke and it's sweeter. But Mecca features a blurb that says it sets aside 20% of its funds for charity, 10% for Palestinian refugees and another 10% for education projects in the country where the can is sold. Mecca says it markets to the Muslim obligation to give to charity. Mecca Cola was started by a Tunisian businessman living in France who wanted to counter Western dominance of sodas. In just five years it has expanded to sixty-plus countries and a share in some Middle Eastern markets. Coke has suffered from boycotts of its products and back then there was no other alternative. That alternative is now present with Mecca Cola.

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