Coca-Cola is a top selling company. They have been around for 132 years now and are considered one of the top soda companies in the world. Their flavour is utterly unique and with their great marketing campaigns, Coke has managed to find a way for consumers to never get tired of their infamous drink.
The Coca-Cola company began in 1886 in Atlanta when Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist, created a flavoured syrup and then combined it with carbonated water. He then proceeded to have it sampled at the pharmacy he worked at. Those who sampled the new drink called it excellent. Permberton's partner, Frank M. Robinson is credited with the name and script of Coca-Cola's logo that is still used to this day. Before Pemberton's death in 1888 portions of the company were sold to different parties. Asa G. Candler, who was also from Atlanta, bought a majority of the interest in the company. (About Us Coca-Cola History n.d.)
Under Candler, Coca-Cola expanded to soda fountains, and in 1894 a man by the name of Joseph Biedenharn installed bottling machinery into his soda fountain when the demand for Coca-Cola to be portable grew. Five years later, large-scale bottling was made possible and in Chattanooga, Tennessee three entrepreneurs secured the exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola for just one dollar. It was later decided by the bottlers that the beverage needed a distinct bottle, so in 1916 the contour bottle was approved and trademarked in 1977. (About Us Coca-Cola History n.d.)
Coca-Cola's first marketing efforts were the distribution of coupons that promoted free samples of their beverage. Coke then turned to the use of newspapers and distributing promotional items with the Coca-Cola script to help further advertise their product. Coke was growing in popularity, so in the 1970s consumers started to associate Coke with fun, friends and having a good time. Fast-forward to the 1980s where slogans like “Coke is It!”, “Can't Beat the Feeling” and “Catch the Wave.” And in 1993 Coca-Cola began using polar bears in animated ads as a part of their “Always Coca-Cola” series. The bears were a huge hit and to this day the polar bear is a symbol still associated with Coca-Cola. (About Us Coca-Cola History n.d.)
In 2009 Coca-Cola unveiled their global campaign, “Open Happiness.” Their main message with this campaign was an invitation to those across the globe to pause, take a break and refresh with a coke and to just continue enjoying the simple pleasures in life. This campaign was spread across TV, billboards, digital, and music. This campaign was even featured in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games where they used the slogan, “Open the Games. Open Happiness.” They then in 2010 created a social media extension called, “Expedition 206” where three ambassadors travelled to 206 countries in the span of 365 days to find out what makes people happy. This project was recorded and distributed across blogs, videos, tweets, and photos. To this day Coca-Cola has used their history and their great marketing skills to make Coca-Cola a fantastic drink and a growing company. (About Us Coca-Cola History n.d.)
With a company like Coca-Cola, which is considered one of the largest food and drink companies in the world, they are expected to have been very successful in international marketing. What makes Coca-Cola so successful in their international marketing endeavours are their simplicity, personalization, and socialization that they use. (Warkentin 2014)
The simplicity of Coca-Cola's international marketing strategies is that no matter how big the company has grown in the global industry; Coca-Cola has never strayed from their basic ideas. Throughout Coca-Cola's many campaigns they have stuck with one consistent message to communicate with their global audience, that message being "Pleasure". Coca-Cola has even kept that simplistic message thought their slogans, only using single words such as “Happiness” and “Enjoy.” (Warkentin 2014)
Another reason why Coca-Cola is so successful in global marketing is that they are able to personalise their product at a local level. Their personalisation can be shown at a couple different levels. One is cultural that being Coca-Cola is good at making sure their marketing, whether that be for the actual bottle or the billboards, is catered specifically to that country's culture. What also makes Coca-Cola successful through personalisation is through their share a Coke campaign. This was a campaign that originally started in Australia, where each bottle of Coke is personalized with the most popular names, and there proceeded to be so successful that it has expanded to over 50 countries. With this campaign, each country is also personalized with the local culture and language. (Warkentin 2014)
What has also been successful about Coca-Cola's international marketing strategies is that they have become very good at socialization. They utilise their social networks well so that they can engage their consumers. Specifically, with their Share a Coke campaign, they ask those who buy a coke to share their experience with others. It was reported in the Wall Street Journal that over 125,000 posts about the campaign were released in the United States after just one month. (Warkentin 2014)
Now in the United States Coca-Cola matches pretty much all of these marketing campaigns. As stated earlier, Coca-Cola is great at personalizing their marketing strategies to fit the culture or country that they are marketing to. The United States is no exception. Something that the United States is doing differently in their marketing versus the rest of the world is the packaging. Something that the United States has kept constant with their marketing technique is their use of the same packaging for the past few years. Whereas if you look at some places in Europe the packaging has changed to a multi-colour packaging. (Schultz 2015) Something else that is different in the United States that you won't find is Coke Light. Coke Light is used in places like Europe and Asia, it is just another example of Coca-Cola's flexibility when branding and marketing to an international market. (Coca-Cola Light: A Lesson in International Branding 2014)
Although Coca-Cola is a very successful company, they do face some marketing challenges on the global field. Coke's main way of advertising to its consumers is through TV, but with the growth of mobile consumption, this has become an issue. Now Coca-Cola will need to find a way to enter this new mobile digital market. According to Coca-Cola's global CMO, Marcos de Quinto, Coke has 300 apps across the world but there are less than 50,000 or 100,000 users. De Quinto also stated that in order for Coke to resonate more with millennials they are going to have to make digital more of a priority (Hobbs 2016)
Coca-Cola has also lost buzz around some of their new strategies. Recent global campaigns did not have the intended effect and therefore Coke sales dropped. According to Hobbs, from Marketing Week, " . . . for the buzz to return, the business needs another ‘Share a Coke' level campaign,” (Hobbs 2016). If Coca-Cola were to use a campaign they would also need their marketing department to once again have a good reason for people to buy Coke and create that buzz again. (Hobbs 2016)
Even though Coca-Cola does face these couple of challenges in international marketing, there are also opportunities that they can take to help better their brand. One marketing opportunity that Coke was facing in 2016 was their One Brand Strategy. This is a global strategy where Coca-Cola seeks to extend the appeal of the original Coke. With this strategy, Coca-Cola plans to use everyday moments to help connect with the consumers worldwide. Their marketing plan includes ten TV commercials, over a hundred campaign images, new music, and a shareable and customizable interactive digital experience. (The Coca-Cola Company 2016)
Today, some international marketing opportunities that Coke can look forward to is Global Sports events. This year Coca-Cola was able to market heavily with the FIFA World Cup. With how well this campaign went, Coke is sure to use the FIFA World Cup in future years. (Vizard 2017)
Coca-Cola has a strong international marketing presence. They've developed a brand that is so recognizable most of the world has heard of Coke. Coca-Cola will remain a strong global brand so long as people are drinking Coke.
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