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The Coca Cola effect; three lessons we can learn from the kings of marketing

Nov 2, 2016
The Coca Cola effect; three lessons we can learn from the kings of marketing

Often lauded and hailed for their pioneering marketing campaigns, Coca Cola has become on of the giants of the industry.

Whether it is commentators’ annual homage to the Coca Cola Christmas Truck or marvelling at their audacity to offer consumers a half can of coke, pushing boundaries and creating iconic marketing campaigns has almost become second nature to the brand.

This week Coca Cola has spoken to Marketing Week about their formula for growth, so we’re bringing you the round up of three lessons we can learn from the Kings of Marketing.

‘More and Better’

Though at first glance this may sound like a given for anyone accustomed to consistently delivering marketing strategies, Coca Cola is putting this ethos at the heart of their new growth strategy.

Against the backdrop of falling net sales yet organic revenue growth, Coca Cola is looking to draw on its areas of success to inform its strategy at a worldwide level.

Coca Cola’s COO James Quincey has told investors that the brand is hoping to learn from its recent success in rejuvenating the U.S. wing of the business, and is now looking to develop this into a ‘formula’ for their global market.

Quincy told Marketing Week that ‘good marketing on its own is not enough, it needs to be placed alongside better execution’ and that the formula going forward will be ‘more and better marketing, a better focus on categories, innovation and pushing ahead.’

Test the waters

Although Coca Cola has added a number of variations to its range over its lifetime, perhaps few would have predicted the launch of a ginger flavoured Coca Cola.

Last week The Drum reported that Coca Cola was ‘treading gingerly’ in Australia as it launched its limited edition summer flavour, and is going to tap into the young adult market through a social media and experiential marketing focused strategy.

With Coke estimating the market potential for the product in Australia alone is currently worth $80m, it’s worth testing the waters with a non-traditional product offering and new approach to reaching audiences.

Even the British tabloid press has picked up on the launch, pointing out that ‘Coke Ginger is the first new “flavour” in more than a decade since the launch of Vanilla Coke’. With the product specifically focused on insights for the Australian market and linked with ever-growing platforms such as Snapchat, Coca Cola will be keeping a close eye on the limited edition to see if their gamble reaps rewards.

You’re never immune

Despite a continuous organic revenue and sales growth, it is worth remembering that success doesn’t make your brand immune to the demands of a competitive environment.

In an article for The Guardian back in July, Director of Strategy at UK- and US-based consultancy Morar Julian Dailly, argued that ‘no matter how indispensable a brand seems, nothing is for ever, and even the biggest names must fight to stay relevant.’

Dailly argues that Coca Cola was born in a very different era, an era more reminiscent of the AMC TV hit Madmen than the 21st century cutthroat marketing arena.

Against increased competition and the choice paradox offered by the internet and rampant consumerism, and also other obstacles such as governments’ moves to tackle obesity, Coca Cola has had to adapt its failsafe brand image to the fast paced marketing of today.

Dailly concedes that ‘there’s no denying Coca-Cola remains one of the world’s best-known names’, but suggests that ‘simply shouting louder will not work’ to keep up with the rate of previous brand image successes.

By competing on features and recognising the changing nature of ‘value-added’ brands to consumers, Coke can fight to maintain its supremacy. The lessons to be learned for marketers big and small are plain to see, and can be useful insights to inform your brand growth plans in the coming months.


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