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A Case Study on Coca-Cola Marketing Strategy [2024]

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about the fizz of a red and white can opening on a hot summer day? Can you feel the bubbling taste of Coca-Cola in your mouth at this imagery? Undoubtedly, that would be a yes! No one asks for a soft beverage anymore. Asking for soft drinks has ubiquitously become asking for Coca-Cola in over 200 countries and territories. Moreover, the Coca-Cola logo is recognised by a staggering 94% of the world’s population

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So, how did Coca-Cola achieve this eponymous status? Let’s turn to the history of the brand and learn about the winning Coca Cola marketing strategy

Looking back: A History of Coca-Cola

Rome was not built in a day, nor was Coca-Cola’s reputation as a market leader. On 8th May 1886, pharmacist Dr. John S. Pemberton perfected the formula for a “Delicious and Refreshing” carbonated water in Atlanta, Georgia. It sold from the counter of Jacob’s Pharmacy for five cents a glass and clocked in an average sale of nine drinks per day in its first year. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, designed the brand name and logo for the fountain soda. It is the first instance revealing the cleverly crafted Coca Cola advertising strategy

The (over) 130-year-old company retains its characteristic swirly, elaborate script announcing the brand name “Coca-Cola” to the world. Robinson believed that “the two Cs would look well in advertising.” The Spencerian script received its trademark from the U.S. Patent Office on 31st January 1893. Since then, the logo has witnessed several minor and major changes, yet it remains the most recognisable logo in the world. The duo placed their first newspaper ad promoting the soda fountain drink in the Atlanta Journal. The logo became visible on store awnings signalling to potential consumers about the newly available soda fountain featuring the word “Drink.”

Before his death in 1888, Pemberton sold a large part of the business to an Atlanta businessman, Asa G. Candler. By 1900, the beverage was being sold across all U.S. states. Between 1890-1900, its sale increased by a phenomenal 4000% because of Candler’s marketing efforts. Its growing popularity meant its sales as simply a fountain soda would not suffice. It went on to be bottled with the distinctive logo and its Spencerian script embossed on each bottle. However, infringement from competitors confused consumers. So, Coca-Cola devised a strategy- the iconic contour-shaped bottle synonymous with the brand!

Evolution of coca-cola bottles

Image Source: Evolution of the bottle

As is evident, the Coca Cola marketing strategy has been part of the brand’s modus operandi since its inception. From its logo to its unique bottle shape, distributing coupons and storefront banners to price control- the Coca-Cola marketing mix was already at play. The company has grown in leaps and bounds from nine drinks per day in 1886 to the 1.9 billion servings sold daily today. The Coca Cola marketing strategy is a master class in building a brand with the most recognisable logo in the world! 

The Supremacy of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has reigned supreme for over a century now. Its reach and popularity are incomparable. Let’s look at some statistics and figures that prove the brand is at the top of its game and the Coca Cola marketing strategy has been central to its developmental plan. 

Key Marketing Campaigns of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has run some of the most successful global and national marketing campaigns. Its success can largely be attributed to the unbeatable Coca Cola advertising strategy. Witty taglines, catchy tunes, emotional content, and remarkable collaborations and sponsorships make the brand’s campaign portfolio mighty impressive. 

Here are some of the most noteworthy marketing campaigns of Coca-Cola.

Always Coca-Cola

To appeal to a younger and global audience, Coca-Cola came up with 27 different advertisements that would appeal to specific audiences in 1993. The most popular among them was the ‘Northern Lights’ ad featuring polar bears, which have become the mascot for the brand today. The company forayed into using computer animation for the first time in television advertising history. Since then, the polar bears have reappeared in the famous Super Bowl ad of 2012, where the viewers could watch them reacting to the games online in real-time. 

Share a Coke

The campaign launched in 2011 in Australia. Through the campaign, people could personalise their Coke bottles with their names. In some countries, the ubiquitous logo was replaced with the most famous names in the country. The company capitalised on its brand image of cultivating friendships and connecting people through sharing. The campaign’s popularity resulted in it spreading to over 70 countries and increasing sales by 7%

Share a Coke campaign in India

Image source: Share a Coke campaign in India

Open Happiness

Part of an integrated global marketing campaign, the Open Happiness campaign rolled out in the first half of 2009. The campaign sought to share the message of enjoying and sharing the small joys of everyday life and the simple pleasures of life. Its many guerilla marketing initiatives, such as the Happiness Truck and Happiness Vending Machine, engaged with people directly. In India, the campaign took a local flavour and incorporated India’s love affair with cricket to promote its message through its “Cricket ki Khushi” campaign.

Taste the Feeling

With its global initiative, the company rolled out the campaign in over 200 countries in 2016. The theme was simple- it promoted the emotions and feelings associated with drinking Coca-Cola and its everyday moments that unite a diversity of people. The campaign united Coke, Coke Zero, and Diet Coke under ‘One Brand.’ The company wanted to remind people that drinking Coca-Cola was a feeling. 

Thanda Matlab Coca Cola

In 2003, the company launched a national campaign in India to make Coca-Cola the beverage of choice for Indians. Capitalising on the idea of a refreshing cool drink or ‘Thanda,’ the campaign drew on this local association to win the hearts of the masses in the country. So, Coca-Cola became synonymous with Thanda. It was followed by the “Sabka Thanda Ek” campaign highlighting the emotional appeal of Coca-Cola as the universal choice.

The Marketing Genius of Coca-Cola

Looking back at the phenomenal response to Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns, you can already see the hallmarks of the legendary Coca Cola marketing strategy. Here is a breakdown of the brand’s marketing strategy.

1. Product strategy

With a portfolio of over 500 products, the brand is a behemoth in the soft beverage sector. With options in different sizes and packaging, the brand has kept up with the needs of the time by catering to the changing market demands and appealing to a wide audience with different tastes. It has been crucial to the success of the Coca Cola marketing mix

2. Price strategy

The price of its products has remained competitive without significant changes to retain its customer base. The segmentation of its product portfolio to appeal to different consumer categories has been an impactful factor in making the Coca Cola marketing mix work in increasing sales. 

3. Place strategy

The company has an expansive network of manufacturers, bottlers, distributors, and retailers to keep its supply chain running smoothly. With operations spread across the globe, the company has captured the world market without hurting its operational costs. Moreover, it has diversified and localised its products by identifying the right markets and their requirements. 

4. Promotion strategy

With the Cola Wars coming to a head, the promotional strategy of Coca-Cola kicked into high gear. The company invests heavily in promoting and marketing its brand, spending USD 4 billion annually on branding. Their promotional activity does not simply rely on achieving universal appeal but also targets a specific audience to cater to diverse groups. The brand uses every medium known to promote itself- from billboards and television to social media and live events.

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5. Local appeal

As a global brand with a presence across nations, Coca-Cola speaks to the demands and emotions of the local audience. Its products, pricing, and promotional activities are in tune with the specific context of the market. It relies heavily on local language, celebrity power, culture, and tastes to make inroads and maintain its presence in local markets.

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6. Sponsorships

Coca-Cola sponsors some of the biggest global sporting and entertainment events and programs with a massive following. Whether it’s the Olympics, FIFA, NASCAR, American Idol, or Coke Studio, the Coca-Cola logo is front and centre, making it a highly recognisable brand. 

7. Social Media 

Social media popularity is a new currency that Coca-Cola capitalises on for branding. Online social media marketing campaigns have become a mainstay to keep the audience engaged through storytelling, interactive activities, social causes, and information-sharing. Campaigns like #ThatsGold, Share a Coke, and Polar Bowl leveraged social media to increase engagement.

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8. Emotional appeal

Coca-Cola has mastered the art of appealing to its audience’s emotions. The foundational objective of the Coca Cola advertising strategy is to get the audience to ‘feel’ and connect with the brand and its products. Its campaigns incorporate Coca-Cola into everyday moments, so the audience associates it with happiness, sharing, and togetherness. 

Conclusion

The Coca-Cola marketing strategy is an innovative, ever-evolving, multi-pronged strategy that has given the brand its proprietary eponymous status. The potent combination of the Coca Cola marketing mix, the Coca Cola advertising strategy, the iconic Coca-Cola logo, its ability to adapt, and its emotional connection with the masses has catapulted the legendary company’s reputation and sales. Are you intrigued by Coca-Cola’s marketing journey and evolution?

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Popular Digital Marketing Blogs

What is a marketing mix?

The marketing mix refers to marketing tools and tactics to promote a brand and enhance sales. It involves focusing on product, place, price, and promotion.

When was Coca-Cola launched in India?

Coca-Cola was first launched in India in 1956 but left in 1977 due to government policies. It re-entered the Indian market in 1992.

What are the Cola Wars?

The Cola Wars refers to the long-standing rivalry between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for market dominance, particularly for their flagship products.

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