The evolution of Coca-Cola

by Monica Watrous
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Coca-Cola Life
Coca-Cola said it may create more beverages with less sugar as consumer concern about sugar rises.

BOCA RATON, FLA. — The Coca-Cola Co. is adjusting its approach to marketing and innovation in response to changing consumer preferences, said James Quincey, president and chief operating officer of the Atlanta-based beverage company.

James Quincy, The Coca-Cola Co.
James Quincey, president and c.o.o. of Coca-Cola

“Consumers are concerned about sugar; they are concerned about artificiality,” Mr. Quincey said during a Feb. 19 presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. “There is reality, there is perception, but it all matters to the consumer. Consumers also want greater control. They want choice; they want products that are natural. They want other benefits.”

Coca-Cola is reshaping its carbonated soft drinks strategy to engage today’s consumer, Mr. Quincey said.

“So we are going to have to move from offering choice to shaping choice,” he said. “We are going to have to be more assertive in terms of innovation. We are going to have to innovate not just in creating new products that perhaps have lower sweetness levels as well as some products that continue to have indulgence or full sugar or whatever. But we can also reformulate and continue to push ahead on reformulating some of our existing products and growing the low and no-calorie products within our portfolio.”

Transparency is another top priority of Coca-Cola going forward.

“We believe there is nothing to fear from transparency,” Mr. Quincey said. “We have no intention of operating our business in the shadows. So we will be joining industry moves, moves with government to ensure and enhance transparency of information for consumers. Obviously that will go with responsible marketing, we will have long-standing policies that we continue to believe in and we are going to continue to support and work with industry and government on whatever else needs to be put in place.”

Coca-Cola One Brand marketing
Coca-Cola has implemented a new "One Brand" strategy and marketing campaign that unites four of its beverages.

Additionally, he said, Coca-Cola will lead the conversation with “critics, with governments, with those that support us and try and find solutions to what the consumers want and to what society needs.”

Coca-Cola’s repositioning is part of broader efforts to evolve in a challenging operating environment. The company is shifting its focus from volume to value, leveraging premium and affordable packaging options to drive transactions and revenue rather than cases. Coca-Cola also has implemented a new “One Brand” strategy and marketing campaign, uniting Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light/Diet Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero and Coca-Cola Life under “the same iconography and heading” of the flagship beverage to increase sales of the lower-calorie variants.

“…we see that as we bring together the One Brand campaign it will help us shape choice, shape choice by moving some of the product’s variants over to lights and zeros, it will shape choice by pushing through some of the smaller packaging that also helps on the revenue front,” Mr. Quincey said. “So, all of this works together in an integral way to respond to the dynamics around consumer needs and the involving consumer preferences.”
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