Coca-Cola India, through a network of over 2.6 million retail outlets, is a brand millions of consumers are familiar with. And to keep up with the changing trends within the company as well as changing consumer habits, it has launched a digital magazine called Journey. Through this digital platform, Coca-Cola wants to share stories in an interesting and engaging manner. “The Coca-Cola Company is much larger than the flagship brand Coca-Cola. Besides our brands, there is so much more to know about our business, our people, our sustainable initiatives and our unwavering commitment to the communities and planet. Journey is a window into our world,” says Ishteyaque Amjad, VP, public affairs and communication, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia. The reason behind launching Journey was simple — the company wanted to move beyond the standard website format and tell narratives that matter to people around it.
This is its way of inviting consumers into its world and making them feel a part of it. Through the digital magazine, The Coca-Cola Company wants its consumers to get authentic information about the company and its beverages. In the past, there have been many myths surrounding the brand — does leaving a tooth in a glass of Coca-Cola overnight totally dissolve the tooth? Or is the manufacturing of Coca-Cola the main cause of water depletion in the country? Thus, the magazine features a section on addressing such popular myths and concerns. Just like in any magazine, readers can share their opinions and feedback with the editor. Launched in English as the primary language, the digital magazine will also host regional language content going forward.
Expanding its portfolio and moving beyond aerated drinks, the company has launched health drinks like flavoured milk with VIO, Minute Maid’s range of juices or even FUZE iced tea as well as bottled water, over the years claiming that it is evolving into a ‘beverages for life’ company with something for everyone. So there is definitely more to tell. “Do we feel it’s the right thing to do? Yes. It is important to let all our stakeholders know what we are up to and where is this journey heading,” says Amjad.
But this is not the first time that the cola giant has taken to the digital route to talk to its consumers and other stakeholders. In 2014, to drive recruitment in the tier II and III cities which were dominated by feature phones and high Facebook penetration, it created cluster audience segments on the social network and also used ads that were contextual and in Hindi. Points out Coca-Cola India’s Amjad, “The approach to digital communication is constantly evolving and we need to keep up with changing consumer habits while on this medium.”
For its brand Thums Up and Pro Kabaddi League, the company created a 24/7 livewire room to create real-time content throughout which helped the brand gain share of conversations (SOC) of 23%. When Coke Zero was launched in India in 2014, instead of doing a soft launch in the market, the product was launched on Amazon. Back then, the brand invited Coke Zero lovers to an event which was covered in real-time on its social handles and also activated its advocate channel to sell 32,000 cans in a record time of 48 hours, making this the fastest selling beverage on e-commerce at that point.
The conglomerate strives to delight consumers with new experiences and to deliver stories, it has undertaken various online initiatives — from the musical property Coke Studio, to selling Coke Zero on Amazon, content marketing for Sprite, various digital games, etc. With no fixed allocated budget for any medium, digital is part of every marketing campaign for The Coca-Cola Company and the investment level depends on the business objective and its target audience. “Each year when we look back, the digital investment has grown by double digits,” asserts Amjad.
GST and demonetisation impact on sales
Did demonetisation and GST impact Coca-Cola’s sales? Will we see a change in the marketing and advertising strategy?
Ishteyaque Amjad: We would not completely agree that things are stacked against us. Are we disappointed with a higher tax rate for a certain part of the portfolio? Yes… everybody likes to have favourable taxation. We believe GST is a great legislation which will give us a lot of efficiencies and freedom to operate. We see great opportunities emerging out of it. In terms of pricing, we are very clear that our job is to delight the consumer and ensure that every consumer gets value, so we are restructuring our portfolio. Would that mean a few pricing changes on a few packs or brands? Yes. But at the same time would there be value offerings that will offset this pricing? Absolutely! You will see us emerge in the coming months with a very balanced portfolio which addresses the needs of all kinds of consumers — from a consumer who is at the bottom of the pyramid to a consumer who is affluent. We will ensure everybody gets a high quality product at a price they can afford.