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Essay: Exploring Asa G. Candler’s Leadership Style and Legacy Behind the Success of Coca-Cola

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Asa Griggs Candler or known as Asa G. Candler was an American Business tycoon who established the famous company, The Coca-Cola Company. He was born on 30th of December 1851 in Villa Rica, Georgia. He was the eighth child of Samuel and Martha Candler. Asa’s formal education began shortly before his fifth birthday and ended when he was ten years old. Candler could have chosen to attend Emory College for a year, yet he chose to let his brother, Warren, attend in his place because ‘Warren’s choice of career was a noble one. Candler decided to pursue a career as a druggist because he had an interest in the medical field but he did not have the money to attend medical school. This job introduced him to the medical field without formal education. Asa G. Candler became an apprentice to Doctors Best and Kirkpatrick and acquired knowledge as he did varied tasks for them. His salaries as an apprentice were meagre, so Asa decided to move to Atlanta. With very little money and no job Candler went from drug store to drug store in Atlanta asking for a job. He was hired by George Jefferson Howard, the father of his future wife, Lucy Elizabeth. Still, Asa was not content. He had large ambitions and was not comfortable working for mere wages. He formed a partnership with Marcellus Hallman at twenty five years old under the firm name Hallman and Candler. Asa's plunge into entrepreneurship was only partly brought by desire to be his own boss. He and George Howard had a falling out over Howard's fifteen year old daughter, Lucy Elizabeth. Howard sent Lucy and her sister, Alice, off to Salem College to discourage the budding romance.

Candler began manufacturing his own "blood balm" and perfume at his drugstore under his own direction. The store was such a success that Asa bought his partner's share. The profit margins at the store were increasing continuously and the business seemed to be at stable. He would then make the decision that would affect the rest of his life and establish a behemoth company to be known across the world a century later. Asa decided to sell his entire stock of drugs, paints, oils, glass, and fancy articles, amounting in value to approximately fifty thousand dollars concentrate his efforts in manufacturing and marketing of the refreshing, stimulating drink. This drink later became known as Coca-Cola. Luckily, the business was a success, and made Asa Candler one of the richest men of his time.

Asa spent more time and money supporting charity works once the business was well-established. He contributed a large amount of money to organizations and causes within the Atlanta, Georgia, area; this greatly increased economic development in his city. One of the lasting monuments that Asa made in his community was to provide funds to build a new 275-bed building for the Wesley Memorial Hospital now called Emory University Hospital (Emory Healthcare 2003). Today, the hospital is considered as one of the best ten hospitals in America.

Most of Candler's time was devoted to his family, charities, the Methodist church, and real estate developments. Unfortunately, he struggled through the last ten years of his life, mourning over his deceased wife and fighting many court battles dealing with property rights. Asa Candler passed away on 12th of March 1929, at the age of seventy-eight years old.

2. Leadership style of Asa G. Candler

3. How was the progress of Coca-Cola under his leadership.

The power of advertising is always great nowadays, but Asa Candler was among the earliest entrepreneurs to aggressively use it.  Candler was not an inventor and he did not come up with a great company name or even a distinctive logo. His greatest achievement was just as a marketer. It was a fledging five-cent soda fountain drink that only sold about nine glasses a day in its first year on the market when he purchased control of Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola's advertising budget grew from $100,000 in 1901 to $1 million in 1911 under Asa G. Candler’s direction. The Coca-Cola name was stacked on everything such as calendars, clocks and fans. Pharmacists selling the drink had apothecary scales emblazoned with the name. In order to ensure that pharmacists were mixing the beverage correctly with carbonated water, and that their stores were properly adorned with Coca-Cola logos and signs, a team of travelling Coca-Cola salesmen was sent out.  An actress and singer, Hilda Clark was even been contracted by Candler to be the face of Coca-Cola, initiating one of the first-ever celebrity endorsements.

In the early advertisement for the beverage said it was "exhilarating and invigorating," while a 1905 slogan proclaimed that "Coca-Cola Revives and Sustains."  The company soon backed off from any claims of health benefits. The real market aim was getting perfectly healthy people to drink it too after all. A 1906 slogan "The Great National Temperance Beverage,", touted as Coca-Cola, and it was a marketing alternative way to alcoholic drinks in a country that would soon head into prohibition. Candler was the ultimate promoter as he gave away coupons for a free glass of Coca-Cola and offered pharmacists who were reluctant to sell the drink the first barrel of syrup for free. Those same pharmacists, when they saw all the coupon-wielding customers wandering in, were quickly returned as paying retailers. Coca-Cola was being bottled in the U.S and overseas in 1906, and most of the globe was drinking Coca-Cola long before the company came up with the catchphrase to "Buy the World a Coke". The Chandler family stake in the company was acquired for around $25 million by an investor group led by Ernest Woodruff in 1919.  

4. Coca-Cola’s growth stage

Despite of their unrevealed formula that has not changed over the years, Coca-Cola has been constantly developing which has also been a huge success in maintaining their brand as a number one position. Industries evolve structurally as well as in terms of overall size over time. However, the profits of The Coca-Cola Company do vary throughout the lifecycle. The business keep changing throughout the lifecycle as the competitive forces that shape.. Hence several stages in the lifecycle of an industry are as follows:

Embryonic Stage: At this stage the industry is in its nascent stage where Coca-Cola has  face minimal competition as there are few competitors and there is no threat from the substitutes due to the fact that the industry is new.

Growth Stage: In this phase, the number of competitors increases. However, the rivalry between the firms is kept in check given to the fact that demand outstrips capacity of growth.  Profitability is often associated with this phase.

Shakeout Stage: In this phase, economies of scale are achieved and due to large-scale consolidation barriers to entry become very high.

Maturity Stage: The focus is not on the growth in this phase, however, some competition from the late entrants become apparent. The power of buyer increases while the power of suppliers declines because now the capacity either matches or exceeds demand.

Decline: One can see increase in the power of buyer in sharp contrast to that of the supplier as capacity exceeds the supply in this phase. Hence, it can be said that this phase does pose new challenges. It is in this stage that we can see an eventual decline in the rivalry of the firms as the weakest of the competitors tend to withdraw from the industry.

Currently Coca-Cola is under the maturity stage due to the solidity and capability of keeping a large and loyal group of stable customers. This stage is lasting longer than all other stages when it comes to western countries like the United States and Europe; considering Asia however, it is still in the growth stage.

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