Coca Cola’s Strategic Positioning in the Global Market Essay
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Coca Cola’s Strategic Positioning in the Global Market
Organizational effectiveness and strategy are two very different aspects of an organization though both are critical to its degree of success. Strategic positioning is an approach which integrates these two aspects in a manner that differentiates a particular organization from other market players and further more drives organizational success (Michael & Nedunchezhian, 2012). Coca Cola is now large multinational organization with a long and rich history which has consistently evolved to conform to social developments and other global development. This paper seeks to discuss how Coca Cola has employed the strategic positioning approach towards formulating its international marketing strategy to cement its position as the international soft drinks market leader.
Coca Cola has evolved into the most recognizable brand in the world. The company has its birth place in Atlanta, Georgia after a pharmacist; John Pemberton created the Coca Cola formula (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). The name Coca Cola came to being after Pemberton accepted his bookkeeper’s suggestion on what the formula should be called. Frank Robinson, the bookkeeper had excellent penmanship skills and the fluid letters that spell Coca Cola are his creation.
In 1887, Asa Candler purchased the formula from Pemberton and by the close of the 1890’s it was America’s favorite fountain drink. This is attributed to the aggressive marketing campaigns Asa Candler initiated (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). Advertising was a marketing campaign that worked well for both Candler and Pemberton and continues to date. The Coca Cola Company has active operations in 200 countries and has diversified its brand portfolio to over 230 different branded products.
Delightful Consumer Experiences
Consumers tend to exhibit different experiences largely founded on personal preferences as well as geographic location (Michael & Nedunchezhian, 2012). As such, since its creation the Coca Cola brand has been identified as a potent catalyst for inspired innovation and social interaction. Coca Cola has over its 128 year history employed tactical organizational processes and strategies which have enabled the company tap into different consumer preferences and achieve desired outcomes relative to consumer experiences (Keller, 2007). This has been through the employment of ideal marketing strategies and product innovations which ensure the beverages positively connect with its numerous consumers.
History of Coca Cola’s marketing campaigns
After Candler purchased the company, he sought to market this new acquisition in Atlanta and by 1891 had begun advertising the brand through colorful calendars. By 1892, Candler authorized for The Coca Cola Company to employ an advertising budget of 11,000 dollars. This was a relatively huge investment at the time and served to ensure that the fountain drink was well known in the State of Atlanta as well as other American states (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). By 1893, the US Patent Office registered the Coca Cola Spenserian script thereby officially registering the brand name. At the same time, the company’s financial success allowed for the first ever dividend to be paid out to its shareholders. In 1895, Coca Cola was confirmed as having penetrated the entire American market and was thus sold and consumed in every territory within the US borders.
From 1900, Coca Cola began employing celebrities who had captured the hearts of the American population as brand ambassadors. Hilda Clark, a music hall performer became the first American star to feature in multiple advertising layouts from trays to bookmarks (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). In 1901, the company’s advertising expenditure surpassed the 100,000 dollar mark leading to greater brand awareness among the American public.
In 1906, the company began its international expansion strategy by opening up bottling plants in Cuba, Canada and Panama (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). In 1911, advertising expenditure reached the 1 million dollar mark and a year later the company expanded its international presence by opening up a bottling plant in the Philippines. In the 20’s the company began a marketing campaign dubbed “Thirst Knows No Season” aimed at enabling it transition from a summer drink to a beverage consumable at any time of year (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). In 1923, the company introduced and patented a new innovation; the six bottle carton. This enable for the Coca Cola soda to be embraced as a festive drink to be shared with family members, friends and party goers.
By the 1930’s, the company’s marketing division has singled out Santa Claus as the most respected name among American people. To further drive sales higher throughout the Christmas holiday season, the company embarked on employing the Santa Claus figure in its marketing and advertising campaigns (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). So as to appeal to the cultural difference in its different international markets, the company sought to vary the colors of Santa’s suit from the traditional red to color green and brown. This was so as to appeal to the cultural values of its consumers in parts of Asia and South America (Michael & Nedunchezhian, 2012). In an effort to improve customer experiences relative to the Coca Cola brand, the automated fountain dispenser was launched in 1933. This was positively embraced by the American public who are known to positively embrace technological and innovative developments.
During the 1940’s, Coca Cola introduced a series of new and innovative products as well as organizational process. The most notable of these is the development and countrywide launch of traveling laboratories (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010). The travelling labs traversed the entire US appraising quality of standards in the numerous bottling plants; this not only boosted consumer confidence but also tended to bring about greater brand loyalty. This came at a time when the American public had become conscious of the quality they desired from preferred brands.
During the Second World War, the Coca Cola Company agreed to enter into a contractual agreement with the US government to supply its troops fighting in the war with the popular American soft drink. The company took this opportunity to venture into the expansive European market with great success as was evidenced after the end of the war (Kuisel, 1991). This also enabled the company to open up a total of 64 new bottling plants in an effort to meet the demand of the US war machine. The company therefore benefitted greatly from this tragic event by entering into new markets and increasing its production capacity.
The fifties were a period of great technological advances in the US market and during this time, Coca Cola embraced these new technologies by running it pioneering TV commercial advertisement. At the time, the television set had become a new source of entertainment for millions of American homes. The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy half hour special broadcast on Thanksgiving Day positioned the company well to reach out to the new generation (Keller, 2007).
During the same period, the Times magazine featured Coca Cola which further cemented the dominance of the product and its brand persona in the US. The company also began sponsoring radio and television programs dubbed “Coke Time” which drove sales even higher (www.coca-colacompany.com 2010).
In 1955, the company began employing African Americans in its marketing strategies with personalities such as Jesse Owens and Mary Alexander. This was in an effort to show solidarity with the African American people during the Civil Rights movement which began in 1954 (Allen, 1995). The company took advantage of this cultural and social unrest to further create a good brand awareness persona with the vast and growing African American populations. Coca Cola also introduced a new innovative product during this decade, the Coke paper cups.
The 1960’s to date
During the 60’s the company introduced portable 12 ounce steel cans, acquired the Minute Maid Corporation as well as began sponsoring the Talentsville USA event (Allen, 1995). It diversified its portfolio by introducing the Sprite brand, the energy drink Olympade during the 70’s. The Coca Cola Company has over the years spread to almost every part of the globe and as such now employs international mega events to further create brand awareness among its diverse consumers (Allen, 1995). These include the FIFA football world cup, the Olympic Games as well as many other major international events. It lasts market penetration campaign was aimed at the African continent which it managed to penetrate successfully with 2010 FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa.
The Coca Cola Company has grown on the back of aggressive marketing campaigns which tend to begin at the local market level which later radiate into the international market. The organization’s leadership over the years has been instrumental towards its phenomenal growth. By taking advantage of significant social and global events, the Coca Cola has been able to maintain a comfortable lead over its closest competitors.
Allen, F. (1995). Secret Formula: How Brilliant Marketing and Relentless Salesmanship Made Coca-Cola the Best Known Product in the World. New York City, NY: Harper Perennial.
Keller, E. (2007). Unleashing the power of word of mouth: Creating brand advocacy to drive growth. Journal of Advertising Research, 47(4), 448.
Kuisel, R. F. (1991). Coca-Cola and the Cold War: The French Face Americanization, 1948-1953, French Historical Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 98.
Michael, T., & Nedunchezhian, V. R. (2012). Impact of Media on Consumers’ Brand Preference-A Study on Carbonated Beverage Market with Reference to Coca-Cola. European Journal of Social Sciences, 29(2), 233-243.
www.coca-colacompany.com. (2010). 125 Years of Sharing Happiness: A Short History of the Coca Cola Company. Retrieved from http://assets.coca-colacompany.com/7b/46/e5be4e7d43488c2ef43ca1120a15/TCCC_125Years_Booklet_Spreads_Hi.pdf