Coca-Cola currently accounts for a substantial percentage of the human race's daily water consumption. Its overall worth is estimated to be around $2 trillion (or rather, will reach that in the next 30 years as the world's population grows). How this position was reached in just under 120 years is described in a lecture given by Charlie Munger (a founder, along with Warren Buffett, of Berkshire Hathaway, who own Coca-Cola).

Although it's obviously quite easy to "explain" Coke's success in hindsight, this lecture shows the power of brand names and a strategy that attempts to maximise all possible factors in selling a product. (In reality, Coke did not always adhere to the following guidelines, and routinely suffered as a result.)

You will never get very big selling a generic beverage. Therefore Coke must be a strong and legally protected brand: in effect, generating a conditioned reflex in consumers. (Even the "Cola" part of the name should have been vigourously defended.)

You need to go for the biggest market: therefore have universal, global, appeal.

Your product must maximise reward: food value (water and energy); flavour (hard to copy, no aftertaste), texture (carbonated, like champagne) and aroma; stimulus (sugar and caffeine); cooling.

Advertise the product as being luxurious.

The profit per serving can be small: over time, consumer spending and quality of life will, overall, increase, and production costs will fall.

Ensure high product quality and reasonable price, limiting possibility of competitors benefitting by finding fault.

Never change the flavour!

Note that Bill Gates is a personal friend of Charlie Munger. It's a shame (for the consumer) that he doesn't appear to listen to a word he says, apart from investing advice.