Soft drinks company Coca-Cola is emerging from the lockdown period with a new focus on agility and flexibility as it builds on what it’s learned from operating largely in the digital space over the past few months.

The brand took the decision to cut back on its marketing output amid concerns about consumer responsiveness and return on investment, but said it would “reengage when the timing is right”.

As countries around the world ease lockdown restrictions, that moment seems imminent. “We are going to kick off again our communications very soon,” Barbara Sala, CEE Strategic Connection and Media Director, told the IAB Europe Interact conference yesterday.

“The decision to be dark is not sustainable in the longer term and especially now that our customers are going back to being active.”

Those customers include the bars and restaurants that have been shut during lockdown, but Coca-Cola has continued to engage with consumers via its social channels.

“We always communicated with our consumers during all of this phase,” said Sala. That’s because “it [social] works”, she said. “And we could adjust very quickly our messages or our communications based on the sentiment of the consumers.”

She reported that the lockdown period has shown how “digital has been very much able to, immediately and in real time, reach our consumers in many different forms … and some of them really astonished me.”

Real-time content production, streaming and distribution, she believes are things “brands will have to look at in the very near future”.

Coca-Cola is taking them to heart with a new focus on agility and flexibility. “It will be essential to listen on a daily basis to what the markets, the clients, the customers, the consumers are telling us,” said Sala. “And we adjust our spending to what really matters in a specific moment.”

That thinking is likely to be extended to include the way the company works with its agencies and with media owners, she added.

“If there is a positive in these horrible situations that we went through, it is that … we now know that agility and flexibility could pay back a lot, if properly managed.”

Sourced from IAB Europe