Coca-Cola exploits new marketing tools

17 June 2010

ATLANTA: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, is exploiting a range of new marketing tools from 3D advertising to online loyalty schemes in a bid to connect with consumers.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Consumer Conference, James Quincey, president of the firm's Northwest Europe and Nordics arm, argued Coca-Cola was a "global success story."

"We've generated universal appeal to consumers, unparalleled reach in terms of reaching customers and unrivalled distribution in terms of ability to get around the world using out bottling system," he said.

While the attraction to Coca-Cola is largely the same wherever it is available, Quincey suggested it was essential to adopt approaches which are tailored to individual countries.

"It's a global success story, but in the end Coke is a local business," he said. "Each of the more than a billion transactions that happen every day happen in a locality somewhere."

The need to differentiate is obvious in emerging economies like India and China, but is also highly relevant to developed nations where pushing up revenues requires equally bespoke models.

Coca-Cola has over 60 active brands in Northern Europe, where 41% of its sales are drawn from the UK and Ireland, 25% from France, 19% from the Benelux countries and 19% from the Nordic states.

More specifically 61.2% of the 182 million shoppers in this area drink Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero or other offerings from its trademark brand once a week, with 22.8% doing so every day.

Quincey predicted brand Coca-Cola would be an "engine" of growth, with its current customers serving as a major contributor to this trend.

"The volume that we sell tomorrow will basically be driven by the frequency of consumption of our existing consumers," he said. "We are very focused on connecting and engaging those consumers."

Its strength in achieving this goal is demonstrated by the increasing number of people regularly buying its products, and several other metrics.

More specifically, Coke's "brand love" scores jumped by 1.6% in 2009, with perceptions of it being "for someone like me" up by 2.2% and the view that it was "worth what it costs" improving by nearly 1%.

"All of this has been done by implementing broad consumer-orientated programmes and campaigns that aren't just centred on the 30-second advert, although ads still remain important," said Quincey.

In the longer term, securing new customers is key, with teenagers one demographic that is vital to delivering sustainable demand.

This audience can best be reached via "cutting edge" digital and experiential marketing, with two-thirds of teens in Northern Europe now drinking a variant of Coke on a weekly basis.

Indeed, the mediums which are now necessary to gain the attention consumers of all ages are rapidly changing, as new media rises in prominence.

"Campaigns need to cover a broad spectrum of touchpoints with consumers because the consumers' consumption of media has changed dramatically over time," Quincey said.

Alongside building its own online properties like CokeZone in the UK, Coca-Cola is also participating on a diverse mixture of social media services.

"We're getting a much deeper, more interesting more two-way dialogue with consumers going forward that is certainly helping our drives on frequency and recruitment," Quincey asserted.

Its other innovative strategies have included the roll out of a 3D cinema ad linked to the World Cup, and Quincey forecast that this emerging format will make an impact in the next few years.

"3D is going to make a difference … We're starting to use this as one example of how we're engaging and entertaining consumers in new and different ways," he said.

Data sourced from Coca-Cola; additional content by Warc staff