Coca-Cola taps new trends

16 August 2011

ATLANTA: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, is combining consumer research, nurturing challenger brands and a "failing forward" mindset to develop its next generation of hit products.

The company sells 3,500 offerings worldwide, and has established the Live Positively programme to formally enhance its credentials regarding the environment, health and working with communities.

"We enable mass market customer discovery," Celeste Bottorf, VP, Live Positively, Coca-Cola North America, told Triple Pundit.

"Our ability to make a new product or innovation available to a mass market is key to our leadership in advancing sustainable and healthy consumer consumption."

Around 25% of Coca-Cola's volume sales are now attributable to healthier ranges like Honest Tea, Zico and vitaminwater, and the company conducts on-going research to monitor evolving attitudes.

"What research has told Coca-Cola is that consumers are expanding their needs [and] wants toward lower calories drinks, juices, waters and teas that are reflective of their more active lifestyles and increased focus upon diet," said Bottorf.

Given the fact these trends are at a nascent stage in several markets, Coca-Cola – subject of a Euromonitor profile here – is pursuing a strategy based on the idea of "failing forward", taking considered risks rather than opting for caution.

"We understand many tests will fail to create a new revenue stream," said Bottorf. "But the scale of testing enables us to capture learning in support of our efforts to continuously align our products with our consumers' wants."

In a bid to uncover beverages fulfilling such criteria, Coca-Cola formed its Venturing and Emerging Brands division, which identifies and launches these goods.

Alongside Honest Tea and Zico, this unit manages brands like illy issimo, Cascal and Sokenbicha, either buying start-ups outright or helping their founders make progress in the market.

"This approach of deploying entrepreneurs to do what they do best is a key component in Coca-Cola's success in discovering, developing and growing new product revenues," said Bottorf.

"The end result of Coca Cola's customer research, testing and venturing activities is scale. Coca-Cola is world class in our ability to grow a brand and product to scale."

Data sourced from Triple Pundit; additional content by Warc staff