By Nitya Pandit
Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer (CEO), Marcus de Qunito, believes that every time Coca-cola is positioned as an icon, the reverse happens and the Brand becomes even smaller. Eventually, the beverage giant recognised that Coca-Cola’s greatness comes merely from the simple pleasure experienced while consuming the product. To use this revelation, the company has come up with a new strategy. They hope to use the “One Brand Strategy” as a reminder to emphasise peoples’ love for the product just as much as they love the brand.
‘Taste The Feeling’
The 2016-launched, ‘Taste The Feeling’ campaign, an umbrella term for One Brand strategy focuses solely on the feeling one experiences after drinking an iced Coca-Cola. Using emotional product communication, the product itself takes centre stage. The shift made from ‘Open Happiness’ to this new campaign helps consumers see the role the product itself plays in creating happiness. This strategy is coming in at a time when soda marketers are challenged by the increasing awareness of health concerns and taxation on sugar-sweetened drinks, factors that are hoped to deter consumers from purchasing soda.
Nature of the One Brand
Under the campaign, Taste The Feeling, the strategy includes the unison of all Coke Trademark brands. This means that all the products packs, be it regular or diet Coke, will have the same classic logo. This will reiterate the fact that the beverage giant is one big brand, and even though it has several variants, they all stand for the same values and visual iconography. This One Brand marketing strategy transfers the iconic appeal from the brand to its variants like Coca-Cola Light, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, and Coca-Cola Life.
While the company wants the consumers to experience the same feeling across all the products, it aims to do so by catering to a diverse, vast audience. It achieves this goal by including products which match consumer tastes, lifestyles, and diets. The company is pushing the idea that while different consumers prefer different versions of the soda, according to Qunito, “Coca-Cola is for everybody”. This, hence reinforcing the idea that the brand, as well as the products, are symbols of great taste and refreshment.
Differences in the old and new
There lies a subtle difference between the company’s original ‘Open Happiness’ campaign and its current One Brand strategy under the ‘Taste the Feeling’ campaign. The former emphasised the overall brand’s image and values while the latter aims to put the specific products in the spotlight, at the same time using it as a medium to communicate the functional and emotional aspects related to the brand. After ‘Taste the Feeling’s successful trial, this marketing strategy went global and was launched for the very first time in the United Kingdom (UK). Putting extensive resources and efforts into making this strategy work, the soda brand worked with four big agencies, Mercado-McCann, Sra. Rushmore, Santo, and Ogilvy & Mather New York which ultimately launched ten television commercials in 2016.
The need for the new
The demand for packaged beverages has shown exponential growth in India, resulting from an increased per capita income. The soft drinks industry in the country boasts a strong potential given that the per capita consumption of soft drinks is 5% of that of the United States. Hence, Coca-Cola might see this as an open opportunity to tap into this growth as it aims to make India its third (from being the sixth) largest market, with no particular time frame in mind currently. While diversifying into a variety of sodas is a growth area for the soft drinks brand, recent studies have pointed out that not everybody understands the wide variety of options available and the benefits that come with it. Hence, adopting the One Brand strategy will make the purchase decision easier for the customers.
The brand will also take help of digital and social platforms, as well as reformed packaging to not only reach out to its customers effectively but also to describe each product in a way that the targeted customer makes his or her purchase decision in the favour of Coca-Cola. To get an idea of the nature of the packaging, the giant will build a personality for each of the products by assigning a signature colour to each pack. This product differentiation can be seen through the black used for Coke Zero and silver for Light and Diet Cokes. Additionally, to infuse a sense of the brand’s essence of catering to individual needs into each one of the products, there will be a unique product name with clear descriptions and benefits mentioned on the packs, thereby ensuring that consumers make a well-informed decision. For example, Coca-Cola Life’s packaging, green in colour, says “Less sugar with Stevia Leaf Extract”.
Sips of success
Although Coca-Cola South Africa experiences consistently high brand love scores, the consumers failed to differentiate between the company’s soda variants. Similarly, in the UK, the company realised that about half the British consumers were unaware of the fact that Coke Zero was sugar-free. Hence, the One Brand strategy, which included the change in packaging and social media conversations, helped the brand reinvent itself. Also, from the very beginning of the launch of this strategy in the UK, an increase in sales was noticed. While the brand’s variants were cannibalising one another (Diet Coke and Life offset the sales of Coke Zero at one point), the growth in the overall cola industry has been falling.
After implementing the One Brand strategy, the Diet and Light variants were seen to be doing better than before. However, the company’s overall index score, calculated on the basis of its quality, impression, and value had dropped by two rankings. To counter this, initial figures from adopting the new strategy in UK showed positive signs.
Scope for success
There are a few obstacles that Coca-Cola and the soft drinks industry as a whole are currently facing. The brand needs to tackle the problem of constantly changing consumer habits, with regards to sugar and obesity – in addition to improving its global net revenues. Effective marketing, especially targeting younger consumers by weaving the product into the emotional storyline can be a stepping stone into improving the overall brand image.
These younger consumers want a sense of belonging in the global community and hope to be able to participate in it. Coke, for the past several years, has been integrating its consumers within its community by generating a global conversation among them. This puts the the company at an advantage, which can help them further create equity by involving and hence attracting the younger audience.
However, with people saying no to carbonated drinks, Coke has a bigger issue to tackle. It needs to respond to the growing sugar concerns in order to appeal to its audience, apart from building its already excellent marketing communication. The One Brand strategy helps provide a clear branding image and seeks to build trust between the company and customers by providing transparency, in terms of the product details provided, but it must first fight the association of Coca-Cola, a major, successful brand, with sugary and unhealthy substances.
Featured Image Credits: Visual Hunt