Coke exploits health trends

21 November 2014

ATLANTA: Coca-Cola's shift of its marketing focus away from larger packaging formats towards smaller ones as it seeks to take advantage of the new priorities of US consumers is paying off according to a leading executive.

The company has diversified in recent years into other areas such as water and fruit juices to take account of changing tastes, and has introduced a series of new products – Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Coke Life – to address concerns around issues such as sugar content. 

"The health and wellness trend has set up, almost teed up, a tremendous opportunity for the Coca-Cola brand with our smaller packages," Sandy Douglas, global chief customer officer/president, Coca-Cola North America, told a Morgan Stanley Global Consumer Conference reported by Seeking Alpha.

"Consumers love it," he said, reporting that purchase intent for the new 7.5 ounce mini-can was up 25% among mothers compared to the standard 12-ounce can. "It takes away issues that moms have with our brand," he added. "Waste, too much [product], those are problems that people have."

Douglas conceded that the way two litre bottles and 12 ounce cans had been promoted for the past 30 years had resulted in some commodification of the category. "In the middle is where the consumer trend is happening," he said.

Looking across the grocery landscape he observed that diet and frozen products were struggling as consumers were increasingly heading for the Fresh section when in store.

That had been the inspiration for the recent introduction of Coke Life, sweetened with cane sugar and stevia, and with one third fewer calories.

"You'll see it in stores now in glass bottles," he said. "Premium priced as close to the natural section as we can market it."

And this trend is no short term-fad – Douglas expected it would continue and explained that "we see Coke Life as a platform". Far from being a finished product, he said the formula would be continually refined to reduce the number of calories and improve the taste.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff