SINGAPORE: When market testing showed an uphill battle for Coca-Cola’s new sugar-free product in Singapore and Malaysia, the global beverages giant turned to experiential activations to engage local consumers.

“When I was looking into the consumer data and insights, I was a bit alarmed, because we had some really big problems,” Susan Tucker, senior content lead of integrated marketing communications at Coca-Cola APAC, told the recent Millennial 20-20 conference in Singapore.

“In Malaysia, [consumers] didn't want to hear about it. Something without sugar was not appealing at all,” she said. In Singapore, people hadn’t really liked Coke Zero and weren’t willing to try another sugar-free product. (For more details, read WARC’s report: How Coca-Cola got Asian millennials fizzing.)

Convinced it could turn around the negative perception of sugar-free products, the brand invited pedestrians in downtown Singapore to put their taste buds to the test in an experiential activation, where they identified mystery foods and drinks – including the new Coke Zero Sugar formula – served to them in a blind tasting.

“Nothing beats experiencing things for yourself and providing that novel experience that allows them (consumers) to become advocates and generate word of mouth, as compared to traditional advertising,” said Tucker, adding that this is especially important to capture millennials who may be less loyal to brands.

Creating a participatory experience with novelty factor, where Singaporeans could share the fun online, made a big difference.

“People really enjoyed the experience, which made them want to talk about it, which meant they posted on social media,” she reported. “People were tagging themselves, commenting and sharing it."

Tucker added that the participants who tried the new formula were convinced that it was the original Coke formula.

“We grew share of the product, which was the goal,” she said.

Sourced from WARC