SINGAPORE: Asia’s beverage industry is undergoing rapid and exponential growth and this offers Coca-Cola the opportunity to put a Coke “within a click’s reach of desire”, the company’s CEO has said.

Speaking last week at the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) in Singapore, James Quincey stated that the digital age is rewriting what is possible and the opportunities offered by digital marketing will help to create new points of contact with consumers.

As reported by FoodBev, he reminded delegates that Robert Woodruff, who was president of Coca-Cola for 30 years until the mid-1950s, coined a famous phrase about wanting to put a Coke “within an arm’s reach of desire”.

And he said that should be updated for the digital age so that a Coke becomes “within a click’s reach of desire” as digital tools are now able to give consumers more ways to express their choices and for brands to meet their needs.

“We think about how we can be a part of their lives, how we can make sure it’s not just the brand they love [but also] the package size, the way they want it,” he said.

“We have taken an aggressive approach to this challenge over the last three years with a strategy that is very much centred on creating a consumer-centric portfolio.”

Quincey went on to highlight the sheer scale of the potential market, especially in China. “The rate of mobile-only users in China is four times that of the US,” he said.

“The online-to-offline meals market in China is $30bn. What’s $30 bn? It’s the size of the entire restaurant industry in Italy. And that’s just appeared in the last few years.”

Digital is key to Coca-Cola’s strategy and the company has been experimenting, often in collaboration with digital tech firms, to find new ways of delivering Coke products to consumers.

It has a pilot programme called eFulfillment, for example, which facilitates direct-to-consumer orders through the company’s network of local bottlers, and it has been looking to make Coke products available via Alexa, Amazon’s personal assistant.

But for all the adaptation that is now required to reach today’s digitally-savvy consumers, Quincey emphasised that core brand values remain as important as they ever were.

“All of us in the consumer products space operate in a portfolio approach in one way or another. We want to meet the market wherever it wants to be, and that means we have to evolve how we think about our portfolios,” he said.

“As we’ve been doing this, we’ve been embracing the core of what, in a way, The Coca-Cola Company has always been: a company which knows how to build brands, nurture brands and keep brands relevant.”

Sourced from FoodBev; additional content by WARC staff