Coca-Cola – Repositioning

Coca-Cola have recently launched a new advertisement that will air each Saturday evening on ITV.  The aim of the latest marketing campaign is to reposition the Coca-Cola brand as a meal-time accompaniment: their key message emphasised is “meals taste better with Coca-Cola”, which will be featured in the majority of their marketing material.  Where as, the television advertisements will feature the lines “Saturday night tastes better with Coca-Cola and ITV1”.

This is evidence of behavioural segmentation, based on occasion.  This is when a large market, such as for Cola, is broken down into sub-sections according to when the product is used or purchased; in this case, Coca-Cola want consumers to associate meal-times with the drink to build up product consumption, and thus sales.   Hence, this is a market penetration strategy.

This is a very simple and clever move.  It is a relatively low-risk approach to generating sales: effectively encouraging consumers to purchase more of the product – as meal times require large quantities of drink – it is an efficient way to boost sales.  This is because it is unnecessary to completely re-brand the drink, which is costly and can go disastrously wrong. With Coca-Cola, however, the combination of a long-term differentiation strategy and a strong corporate brand make this unnecessary.

Although repositioning strategies often only generate short-term sales, this approach may be an exception to the rule; the tie-in with ITV, who have recently began airing ‘Britain’s Got Talent Again’, is likely to generate long-term loyalty.  This is because their occasional segmentation, which has identified families as a target market, may encourage weekly usage: families get together each Saturday with a meal and enjoy T.V. in the evening with one-another.

This seems very 1950s-60s to me – families sitting down together, and enjoying each other’s company.  Perhaps Coca-Cola is alluding to the brand’s traditional connotations?  This is likely to be the case given the company’s recent 125th anniversary.  One could even go as far to say that the company is using the stereotypical, happy 1960s family as an aspirational group for mothers: if mothers want the perfect family, the thoughts of family meals enter their heads first and then closely followed by Coca-Cola.

Ultimately, this is a very simple strategy.  But if you look at it closely, it is psychologically very, very powerful.  There is a snatch, however.  Just how true is it that families sit-down together for meals in a modern society?  Moreover, is it necessarily the mother who will make the purchase decision?  Another issue to consider would be the health issues: as fast-food places always offer discounts on fizzy drinks along with meals and, consequently, Coca-Cola could become more associated with takeaways than traditional meals?  But, then again, this would still increase product consumption…

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 13/06/2011

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