BY ASHLEY MAK AND DANIEL JOYCEOriginally intended as a patent medicine in 1886, Coca-Cola (or Coke) has risen to its current status of dominant distributor in the soft-drink market and has maintained that position throughout the 20th Century.
But how exactly has Coca-Cola not only survive, but flourish in such a demanding, dynamic market? After an analysis of the company’s most recent product launches, it is evident that such achieving and maintaining dominance primarily lies in its adaptive variety of marketing tactics.
We have identified two of Coca-Cola’s recent marketing campaigns in particular that demonstrate their strength and versatility in the field: “Share a Coke” campaign and Coca-Cola “Life”.
“SHARE A COKE” CAMPAIGN
Once any organisation stops thinking of new ways to advertise and market they will fall behind. Coke hasn’t stopped thinking. For instance one majorly successful campaign was the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.
In 2011 Coca Cola believed they’re brand was becoming stale in the Australian market. Through their previous ‘Bottle Blast’ campaign of 2009 the organization realized people weren’t buying their product – the product was too familiar to people. They were also aware that younger people were not becoming involved, or even tasting their core product.
With this the organization came up with a new advertising campaign targeting not just younger people, but a whole nation. It was a simple but effective campaign that saw 150 names put on the labels of Coca Cola bottles in Australia. Although with the number of names they were printing the company was aware that they would only be able to reach 42 percent of the population.
Prior to the campaign, Coke (and other soda manufacturers) saw a decline in sales due to the increased popularity of bottled water and low-calorie sports drinks. Since the campaign however, Coca-Cola saw a massive increase in sales with a 7% increase in Coke consumption worldwide (which is a lot when you consider the number of consumers already active prior). In addition, the company saw a 2.5% increase in total sales and soft-drink volume went up 0.4%.
The campaign pandered towards people’s love for personalized products and collectability – as evident by the rise in sales despite the product itself staying the same. It particularly took off on social media, with the hash-tag #shareacoke trending heavily during its release and consumers posting images of themselves with their names on Coke bottles.
Critics of Coca-Cola consumption often targeted the health concerns of ingesting such large amounts of sugar on a regular basis (a typical can of Coke – 355ml – contains 39 grams of sugar) as this was closely associated to health issues such as diabetes and weight gain. As a result, Coke spent 5 years developing a new line of product that reduced sugar content, replacing it with a renown, lower calorie, natural alternative called Stevia.
They altered packaging design from its iconic red to an olive green to pander towards a more environmental impression (in association with Stevia being known as a “natural sweetener alternative”). In some countries (i.e. Argentina), they even changed the bottle itself, replacing glass with a recyclable petroleum-based material.
However, besides a mere design change, Coca-Cola did extensive marketing efforts to promote their new line:
- The United States was the first country to roll out Coke Life. During the initial phases, they organized approximately 4000 events at stores whereby people could sample the drink for free.
- The United Kingdom followed soon after in releasing the product. Coca-Cola utilized endorsement from British model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to promote the drink at a Launch Party in London.
- The Telegraph, a British news distributor, sent correspondents into the street to conduct taste tests with random individuals. The result was highly supportive of the taste of Coca-Cola Life
- And most importantly, the company itself has since led several health initiatives since the release of “Life” aims to promote lower obesity rates. The organization insisted on associating the new release with its stance on promoting health.
The question of whether Coca-Cola Life is truly healthier is a debate for another topic. What is evident here, however, is the success of its marketing for existing (“Share a Coke” initiative) and new products (Coca-Cola Life). Since the release of Coke “Life”, competitors such as Pepsi have seized the opportunity to follow suit and have released their version with explicit similarity: Pepsi True.
With Coca-Cola acting as a prime example of effective campaigning and advertising, questions for discussion could include:
– How would/could other companies learn from such marketing prowess?
– Would these methods be applicable to other companies (tangible/non tangible products)?
– Are there any examples of organizations that have tried the same/similar method and not gotten a similar (successful) result? If they didn’t, why would that be?