Marketing Strategy of Coca Cola

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  • Post last modified:May 19, 2021

Coca Cola Marketing Strategy

Vintage Coca Cola ad. Image: Pixabay.

The marketing strategy of Coca Cola is a mix of three important elements – affordable prices, worldwide accessibility, and great customer connection.  The brand is present across more than 200 nations and is sold in packages of various sizes. The products are priced competitively because of the heavy competition in the soda industry. Coca Cola’s global reach has been made possible by a large network of more than 250 bottling partners. Its bottling partners manufacture, package, merchandise and distribute the final branded beverages to its customers and vending partners. The vendors then sell these products to the consumers.  Its bottling partners work closely with its customers and execute Coca Cola’s localized strategies. Among a large number of customers of Coca Cola are restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks and similar other small and big customers.

Traditionally, the soda brand has marketed itself as a brand for the youth. Marketing provides some key advantages to any brand and does not just serve to drive sales high but achieves a long term purpose too. The long term purpose of the marketing activities is to drive a brand’s recognition high and to attract and retain customers. The Coca Cola icon can be recognized easily throughout the world on Coca Cola bottles and throughout its ads. Its packaging style has kept changing with time and now it is served in stylish bottles and plastic packets throughout the globe. Its products are positioned as flavored nonalcoholic drinks for the youth. The target market of Coca Cola mainly consists of people in the 13-35 age group.

It is also among the top twenty companies globally in terms of marketing expenses. Since always the brand has spent a lot on marketing and advertising.  Its advertising has always been creative and innovative.

Targeting and Positioning of Coca Cola:

Coca Cola has strategically positioned itself as the brand for the youth. It targets mainly young consumers in the 13-35 age group. The millennials are tech-savvy and independent-minded people. Coca Cola targets mainly millennials in its ads including print and video ads. The company has always strived to be the first choice of the youth. However, it does not mean Coca Cola does not have a customer base among the middle-aged. Youth is the largest part of its global customer base. Coca Cola promotes a consistent customer-friendly image through its advertising campaigns globally. Its largest target market is the middle-class consumer segment worldwide.

One Global Brand

Now, in the 21st century, the brand has focused on its global branding as one brand. Instead of branding its products separately, the brand has brought all its products together in its ads. The ‘Taste the Feeling’ slogan is aimed at connecting with the millennial generation and its emotions. This strategy is like moving into a new era for Coca Cola. The soda giant uses both traditional and digital channels to reach its target market. Apart from print and TV ads, the brand is also using social media for striking deeper connections. YouTube has more than 1300 videos uploaded by the soda brand. Several new videos have been added as a part of the new “Taste the Feeling” campaign. These videos are in several languages which reflects the market size of Coca Cola.

It is an era of customer service and more and more focus has to be on being customer-oriented. Coca Cola’s focus is also on striking a deeper customer connection. Engaging the customers deeper required a better strategy that could touch their emotions and strengthen the global image of the Coca Cola brand. For this reason, it was essential that Coca Cola focused on a strategy that could bolster its identity of a brand for the youth. Coca Cola is trying to penetrate the global market deeper. To get into the hearts of the Millenials, it created ‘Taste the feeling’ Ads which highlight Coca Cola moments in the lives and lifestyles of the youth. Coca Cola is everywhere in the lives of the millennial partnering their young moments of joy and the new ad campaign just tries to strengthen the bond between the two.

However, the one brand strategy is also targeted at retaining the old values of Coca Cola. The challenge is big  and apart from the rising demand for health drinks, there are also several other challenges which have led to dwindling sales. The sales could again climb and for that it was essential that Coca Cola reappeared on the horizon with all its might. Moreover, having a concrete image globally could provide some bigger advantages in the long term.  The middle class and the millenial generation are most important in the new century and Coca Cola’s focus is primarily on these two sections of customers. The income and purchasing power as well as size of the middle class has increased significantly. The millenials are a significant part of the population and most important customers for Coca Cola. The pricing strategy of Coca Cola is meant to combat the heavy competition in the market. The soda industry has grown highly competitive and apart from Pepsi and Pepper Snapple, there are several other small and big brands competing for market share. So, Coca Cola has priced its products competitively against these competing brands and their products. Its products are priced in a  range that  they are accessible to all but without creating a perception of low quality products.

Successful marketing builds on the existing competitive advantages of any brand. Coca Cola has 22  ‘billion-dollar brands’ in its portfolio. Several of these brands are quite famous and enjoy a very high level of customer loyalty globally. Coca Cola has been promoting these brands separately using various techniques.  From advertising to other various techniques like sports sponsorships and local campaigns, the brand has used a mix of several such techniques to reach its customers. Some of the most well-known sponsorships of Coca Cola are American Idol, Apple iTunes, BET Network, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA, and the Olympic Games. Brand recognition is an important factor and Coca Cola has successfully generated a lot of publicity and brand recognition through its sponsorship of sports.

Localized Marketing Strategies

Coca Cola is a global brand, but mostly it has used localized strategies in the local markets to promote its brand and its products. It has mainly been doing this because of the regional and cultural differences that exist between the various regions in the world. Campaigns are an important part of Coca Cola’s marketing history. However, the new campaigns launched by Coca Cola are aimed at stressing the universality of the brand. All its trademark brands are now united under one global creative campaign “Taste the feeling”. This strategy is also aimed at extending the iconic image of Coca Cola as the number one beverage brand globally. Each of the Coca Cola brands provides the same great taste and refreshment and this is what the new marketing strategy of Coca Cola emphasizes. Coca Cola offers it consumers a wide range of choices and the new strategy underscores its commitment to people’s choices ranging from with and without calories to with or without caffeine products. Across its entire portfolio, Coca Cola provides the same great taste and refreshment. For the past several years, Coca Cola had relied on its ‘Open Happiness’ campaign which reflected what the brand stood for.  However, the focus has changed now and the idea is to express that Coca Cola is for everybody. The idea is to express the largeness of Coca Cola, not as a drink but as a brand loved by customers worldwide.

Coca Cola investment in marketing and promotions:

The soda industry has grown highly competitive where the main rival of Coca Cola is Pepsico. While Coca Cola’s product mix has mainly remained limited to the nonalcoholic beverages, its rival Pepsico has expanded its product portfolio and diversified it considerably in recent years. The fierce competition between the two has remained a topic of discussion for years in the media and academic circles. To retain their customers and maintain market share, each of the two invests a heavy fortune in marketing and promotions each year. The promotional expenses of Coca Cola, as well as its rival, remain in billions per year. A very large part of Coca Cola’s marketing budget is spent on digital advertising. In 2019, Coca Cola spent $4.25 billion on advertising and promotions which was $133 million higher than the previous year. Over the last several years, Coca Cola and Pepsi have continued to spend comparable sums on marketing and promotions.

Sources:

https://businesscasestudies.co.uk/coca-cola-great-britain/within-an-arms-reach-of-desire/sponsorship-and-brand-recognition.html
https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coca-cola-sponsorships
https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/19/coca-cola-takes-one-brand-marketing-strategy-global-as-it-unveils-new-tagline/
https://www.coca-colacompany.com/our-company/the-coca-cola-system
https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/taste-the-feeling-launch

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.