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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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The Diet Coke Marketing Mix

Angela Ramos

Keiser University

Introduction

Marketing is all about placing a right product at the right time and place. This task alone requires effort on a business' end to pull it through. Crucial to the success of any product or service is the marketing mix. This ensures that the product will generate enough returns to sustain its own production and consequent survival in the market.

Product

The beverage industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry both in the US and globally. One of the companies dominating this industry is the Coca-Cola company that has effectively been in operation for over 100 years. While many consumers will settle for one of its most popular drinks, i.e. Coca-Cola, the drink may still not appeal to many health-conscious consumers, and hence the need for a product variation that caters for such a category. The diet coke is thus the focus of this marketing mix.

The diet coke is an existing line extension of the flagship Coca-Cola brand that contains artificial sweeteners instead of sugar in it. It is therefore appeals to consumers with little tolerance to sugar such as diabetics, or even weight conscious consumers. The main need satisfied by the product is thus that of health consciousness.

The Coca-Cola company has also carried out a product mix expansion on the product, in that the diet coke also carries different flavors that appeal to the different tastes of health-conscious consumers. Such flavors include the caffeine free diet coke, the Diet Coke with Splenda, the lime and Cherry diet coke. Worth noting is that even though the product appeals to health-conscious individuals, it still can appeal to the regular consumers of the iconic flagship Coca-Cola soda.  

The diet coke is currently on the decline stage of the product life cycle, having reached maturity in the Mid-2000s, where Morris (2018) notes that the average consumer could take at least ½ a liter of soda a day. As of 2017, the product's sales had declined by 6%. This comes as more consumers embark on more health-conscious drinks such as water (Morris, 2018).

The diet coke competes with other products such as the diet Pepsi and the Pepsi mark, with the distinguishing feature being the brand.

Place

Evidently, the diet coke has its own niche market. During the introduction stage of its life cycle, i.e. when it was launched, the product was initially limited to six main US markets including New York, San Diego, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Denver and Jacksonville (Moye, 2013). The product then grew and came to be accepted globally and is currently sold and marketed in over 150 nations. As of now, the diet coke remains one of the most successful brands that the Coca-Cola company has ever marketed.

Having a global distribution would mean that the product is readily available to almost any consumer, including purchases made online. The company works with bottlers and franchises globally to make the product available. The highly priced secretive concentrate is shipped to bottlers who dilute and package it. This global distribution network guarantees efficient marketing and hence global product presence. With an intensified strategy for distribution, a diet coke can be found at any convenience store, pump station, supermarket etc.

The fact that the company has a global presence means that there is less need for it to use a sales force and other conventional placement strategies such as attending trade fairs or even sending samples of the product to marketers. The company simply rides on its good name. Other competitors in fact have deployed similar strategies in their marketing based on its effectiveness. A good example of such a competitor is Pepsi.

Price

Pricing remains another key component to the success of a product brand. It is the main means for generating returns and ensuring that the product and company remains in market and in business respectively. Conventionally, for a product in a perfectly competitive market, it is important that the price point be one that is set by the market. The price point can neither be too high as consumers in the market will settle for available substitutes, nor too low, as the company will be operating in losses.

At the introduction stage during launch, the pricing strategy that was deployed by the company for the product was a skimming pricing policy. Here, the company charged its consumers the highest price that they would possibly pay for the product. The strategy was aimed at increasing market penetration. Later as the product approached a maturity, the company started using the competitive pricing policy, as the demand created by the initial customers became satisfied. With the competitive pricing policy, the product's price was reduced so as to attract another demand segment and also obey the laws of perfect competition.

In special instances, the Coca-Cola company will use pricing discounts so as to increase its volume of sales, as well as maintain a loyal customer base.

Currently, a standard 2-liter diet coke will cost $1.89, which is ten cents more than the diet Pepsi's 2L bottle (prices obtained from target's online store).

Promotion

The diet coke is not limited by age or gender constrains, as it is enjoyable amongst all consumers. One of the major factors to the product's success is its sugar free factor, that seems to mainly comply with healthy living trends globally.

One of the most successful promotion strategies for the product was the one deployed during its introduction phase. Moye (2013) notes that the marketing team then heavily invested in a marketing brand owing to a successful financial model adopted by the company. In the ad campaign during the first year of the product's launch, the marketers positioned the product as a soft drink with a great taste, yet very little calorie, instead of a diet product with a great test (Moye, 2013). This distinction was crucial in strengthening the product's appeal as a diet drink with an emphasis on great pleasure and taste, instead of a diet regimen. Its first tagline “Just for the Taste of it,” was simply a comprehensive statement that communicated the product features in great detail. This tagline has been reintroduced in the US market over the years, with its most recent use being in 2014. Meanwhile other taglines have also been used to promote the product, with the current tagline being “Because I can.”

Worth noting is that the product brand has mainly been projected as a health option, and attitude has dominated most of its commercials. Some of the company's advertising mediums for the product include newspapers, radio, online platforms such as social media, all which create a maximum coverage for the product.

Conclusion

Highlighted in this paper is the marketing mix for the diet coke. The features point out to the reason as to why the product has remained in the shelves for over thirty-six years and counting. Ultimately, the product's marketing mix is one that ought to be followed by many companies.

Reference:

Morris, D. (2018). Diet Coke Is in Decline. And the Latest Revamp Might Not Help. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2018/01/14/diet-coke-revamp-sales-down/

Moye, J. (2013). The Extraordinary Story of How Diet Coke Came to Be. Retrieved from https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/we-needed-a-big-idea-the-extraordinary-story-of-how-diet-coke-came-to-be

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