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Here is a photo of a menu in Bali, Indonesia:

Menu of soft drink prices

The Diet Coke is 14,000 rupiah. The regular Coca-Cola, and other soft drinks, are 10,000 rupiah. It isn't just this restaurant, the same is true of virtually every restaurant I have been to.

Why is Diet Coke more expensive than regular Coca-Cola in Bali (or Indonesia, if this is not limited to Bali)?

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1  
jmac I saw you accepted an answer that includes speculation that the portion size might be larger: does this mean you've confirmed that they are indeed larger? Just curious :) (my guess would have been that Diet appeals to image-conscious Indonesians who are happy to pay a bit more, and maybe even trust the "diet" credentials more for it being priced like a premium variant) –  user568458 Aug 4 at 19:45
    
This is speculation but this might be related to a law. They tried to ban aspartane and also have extra duty fees for artificial sweetener, but not enought imo to have 40% increase. –  the_lotus Aug 5 at 2:29

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Two possibilities spring to mind.

Coca Cola is produced by local partners,

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/our-company/bottler-web-sites

it is possible that the local partner in Indonesia does not have the space on its production line to make diet coke, which means that it would have to be imported, hence the higher price.

The second thought that I had was to do with size. The screen shot you attached does not show the portion size, if diet coke is only available for example in 500ml, but the others are served as 330ml then that might explain the price difference.

Hope this helps

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5  
their Indonesian website lists coke, coke zero, and diet coke explicitly. It does list diet coke as only in 330ml cans, coke coming in 200ml glass bottles (among other formats, including 330ml cans) as well. So yes, most likely they would serve you a 200ml bottle of coke or a 330ml can of diet coke (or of course diet coke is simply more expensive off the factory because of for example higher production cost). –  jwenting Aug 4 at 9:46
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@jwenting I was about to come back and say I've done some more research and I can confirm that diet Coke only comes in 330 cans and other products are available in 200 bottles. But you beat me to it. –  Martin Jevon Aug 4 at 20:55

Because people are willing to pay more, price is set at the highest level that does not depress demand too much.

It may be that locals will drink the cheaper coke, but travellers are willing to pay more for the Diet, so allowing the market to be segmented.

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2  
Thanks for the answer Ian. While I generally understand how markets work, do you have any evidence that this is actually how this specific market works? All shops seems to have a very similar markup for Diet Coke, yet will have wildly different prices for beer. If the markup is consistent, it would make far more sense for it to be related to a different packaging or the like as others suggested. –  jmac Aug 4 at 16:38
    
@jmac, Without the sales and price data for each shop over a long length of time, including the effect of price changes, no one will be able to say. Even with the data only a few companies have the software to work it out. –  Ian Ringrose Aug 4 at 17:24
    
From my perspective, the simplest answer is probably the most likely. Rather than assuming some massive market push to fleece tourist consumers by feeding them overpriced diet coke which the locals don't drink, I feel far more comfortable believing that the sizes are different and that explains the gap. Plus I can test that. (If locals don't drink Diet Coke, why would the local manufacturer make it? Just for tourists? If so, how is that economic? And why is it sold in supermarkets where tourists are less likely to go?) –  jmac Aug 4 at 17:28
    
What can be more simple then shops putting up their prices until their sales start to drop? –  Ian Ringrose Aug 4 at 17:34

Many soft drinks come in both glass bottles and in cans. The bottled version is less expensive, because the bottles are returnable. The cans not returnable, so you pay more since the container is not reusable.

When you get into specialty versions, such as Coke Light, Coke Zero, etc, they tend to only come in cans, so they can be labeled as such. The bottles only carry the Coke or Coca-Cola logo and since the drinks are all brown color, there would be no visual clues as which was which on the shelves if they were all in bottles.

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There's no hard evidence in this thread on ThaiVisa.com, but it's clear something happened in 2008 (during which time Coke Light was nearly unavailable) that led to this differential. Speculation includes an attempt to drive purchases of Coke Zero, a production shortage, or simply a desire to raise prices.

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