Friday, 6 April 2012

Coca-Cola's Secret Formula Revealed

Lessons for Brand managers from the Success of Coca-Cola 
Kenya ’s brand terrain is littered with many brands. Some are as old as Kenya while others are relatively new having made it to the scene in the 21st Century. Amongst these brands, there are those that boast of having a special place in the hearts and minds of Kenyan consumers.Coca-Cola is one of these brands having been in existence for the last 125 years and still very fresh,funky,cool,warm and an exciting brand that has remained 'young'.
Studies have shown that Coca-Cola is among the most-admired and best-known trademarks in the world. In fact, it is documented that “Coca-Cola” is the second-most widely understood term in the world, after “okay.”If you are a brand manager; or a business owner wouldn’t you want to get this kind of brand awareness and loyalty? Well it doesn’t come cheap to start with!!!However this kind of loyalty,adoration and recognition this brand enjoys is worth all they spend on it. The success of this brand is worth every coin they pump into it and gives them value for money .But just how do they do it? The core of Coca-Cola's success is their marketing department with the biggest beneficiary being the advertising, media and creative industry because of the astronomical budget allowances allocated to the Marketing manager & brand managers.
I am totally fascinated by the transformation of this iconic brand over the years. It remains my most admired company to work with as a marketer and a social media specialist. As you read on you will feel that i sound like am totally sold out to Coca-Cola!
Moving on swiftly,it’s the kind of visibility and brand love they seek that has endeared them to many suppliers.With loads of cash to splash on any idea that gives them an edge over their competitors in the market who would want a share of the cake? 
Who doesn’t love Coca Cola? It’s probably the only beverage you can find in a high end joint or store and still get it in a remote village deep in Western Province in same great refreshing taste. So go right ahead and Open Happiness!
Well the brand too had a few major failures notably the 1985 launch! To hear some tell it, April 23, 1985, was a day that will live in marketing infamy when Coca-Cola took arguably the biggest risk in consumer goods history. It  was working on a new kind of Coke, a variation of a product to tackle the emerging challenge from an upstart called Pepsi.Its was disastrous and what no brand manager would want his or her brand to go through!
Here are 4 pillars/secrets behind Coca-Cola's success. 
1st Pillar
Coca cola’s advertising budget surpassed $100,000 for the first time in 1901 and hit the $1M dollar mark in 1911!That was a lot of money back the and even today just how many business can spend $100,000 of their revenue in advertising?
Interestingly in 1921 Outdoor billboards are introduced as part of the advertising mix.
They began advertising on television on Thanksgiving Day, 1950.have you watched their 1971 Hiltop commercial  "Id love to buy the world a Coke"? That was a great ad to show the world in 1971 and it pains me a lot when i see brands airing poorly done ads on Kenyan TV in 2012!Here's what Coca-Cola global posted on their twitter handle after the company was inducted into the advertising hall of fame.

Closer home who doesn’t remember Papa Shirandula’s Brrrrrr ad that aired a few years ago? Their billboards are are really cool too.Fast forward to their latest A Billion Reasons To Believe in Africa" ad, I so feel this ad...can't stop humming I love you Africa.Kudos Steve Kekana & the kids; you did an awesome job. Although I am a big fan of the Guinness & bud light commercials; Coca- Cola did a great job on this one. We had a discussion with a group of marketers and ad critics and after watching the ad and interestingly they sang along to the ad the second time they watched it ,with some nodding their heads like rock stars! I also asked a few tweeps on Twitter how they feel about the ad and got really pleasant replies and several retweets!
Please leave a comment at the end;let me know what you felt after watching the ad. 
If you haven't watched it yet;click here to view the A Billion Reasons To Believe In Africa Commercial 
2nd Pillar
Digital Media
At first glance this doesn’t seem like a corporate blog at all. But in truth this blog that was started in 2008 and already has 1 million hits is all about one thing… marketing.
Here’s how: 
It’s about deepening the brand  – in a very subtle way, with all the historical items they share, this blog shows you that not much of the Coca-cola brand has really changed… the brand has been a leader for over a century
It’s about deepening loyalty – because Coca-cola can reach back and bring up historical documents that are over 125 years old  they are communicating to their customers “you can trust us to take care of you and your children.” 
It’s about deepening the experience – Experiential marketing is hot these days, so it’s natural Coca-cola would jump on that train, giving fans a taste of what the brand was like in the past. It’s truly a unique experience. 
What can you do with your blog to adopt some of Coca-cola’s strategies? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • Outside of your cornerstone content, what do your readers find interesting? What do they care about?
  • Can you develop a niche blog and niche community around that topic?
  • What is it about your brand that’s unique? Are you giving it enough attention?
  • In regards to content, what can you give your readers that will build loyalty today and in the future?   
This is a great platform for deepening engagement with your consumers. Coca Cola knows it’s wise not to ignore the 800 million member social site. Although you can’t fully brand your Fan page experience you can customize certain aspects of your page. The new time line pages enables you to list your milestones; a good way of sharing Coca cola’s rich heritage!
In Kenya their fan page is currently at 4700 fans since it was created in February 2012.Well I have always argued that social media isn't just about the numbers; Its not just about being there and posting daily;it's about the level of interaction and engagement with your fans. What's Coca-Cola Kenya is doing is amazing.The page is all about sharing happiness,excitement and joy while subtly pushing the brand in a very creative way. With a lot of Fan to Fan interactions this is definitely a page you need to check out.The page has applications that keep people coming back to the page;such as the Coke Parties Rock App,The Media App for Coke Music and the A Billion Reasons App which is set to go live next week.
Please note that the page has been grown to that number with minimal give aways and thus the people their are consumers in love with the brand and they aren't just fans;It's a marketing ARMY!
However Coca-cola Kenya twitter handle is inactive!This doesn't mean you should not go on to twitter,simply work with what you can handle!What you understand well and can control! I hope you know Twitter can be disastrous to brands at times,Some companies have faced the wrath of tweeps case in point the famous Mc donalds  #McDstories promo that turned into a PR nightmare after the conversation digressed to a platform of airing the bad customer service one had experienced at the store.All wasn't lost though at least because Mc Donalds saved tons of research cash they could spent have on customer surveys.
Please Check Coca-Cola Kenya Facebook Page here and pick a few more lessons to apply on your Social Media.
3rd Pillar
Experiential marketing allows your customers to engage and interact with your products, and services in sensory ways that provide the icing on the cake.It's all about personal experiences that help people connect to a brand to help them make intelligent and informed purchasing decisions.It's a unique approach which integrates elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer.
Coca-Cola Kenya has a few campaigns running of currently such as;
1.Coke Parties Rock-takes the brand to the 18-24 target market.Its a very personalized strategy to take the brand to consumers. This solid idea leaves a longer lasting impression to the young people hence more talk ability leading to increased brand loyalty. You just register your party on the Coke parties Rock App,Vote and if you win they crash your house party with Ghetto Radio or Capital Fm which are the most listened to FM stations among the urban and the ghetto segment of youths.

2.Copa Coca-Cola-This is a under 17 youth championship tournament that seeks to develop talent among the youths.Some of the notable players in Kenya discovered in the tournament are amongst others Mc Donald Mariga.

3.Coke happiness Machine; check what the machine does,what happened when they visited USIU Kenya and find out where happiness will strike next here

4.Sprite slam 2012 Check all about it here; Be Uncontainable
5.A Billion Reasons To Believe in Africa.
This is the real deal. 
There are close to 1 billion people in Africa each with a reason to  believe in Africa and because Coca-Cola knows, understands, lives and breathes Africa they can influence positive attitudes amongst Africans. The world sees Africa as dark & hopeless with majority of the news that come out of Africa being negative e.g. war, hunger, poverty etc locally, our focus is also on negative news, as that’s what sells and people are tired of the negativity & it’s effects. Africa has a lot of positive news to offer and so why not tell those stories? So Coca-Cola created platforms for Kenyans to tell their positive African stories and opportunities for teens to interact with positive African influencers/role models and showcase their 1 Billion Reasons To Believe in form of (stories/images/videos) in Africa. Watch out for this campaign; with Patricia Mbatia of EXP Kenya handling the experiential arm of the campaign you can rest assured that this will work out!
After all the marketing what a consumer needs is a Coke near his place of work, home or school and Coca-Cola has managed to deliver happiness to almost every corner of this country. Coca-Cola is a sort of franchised operation. Most people refer to Cola-Cola as if it were a single entity and it is not. You have the people in Atlanta who take care of the brand and overall marketing, product development and so on, but then each country has its own bottler, or more likely, bottlers. Although Coca-Cola may have an interest in some of these bottling operations they are generally separate legal entities. Having said that, many, in their current form, are totally dependent on Coca-Cola as they do not bottle anything else. The bottlers do have the technical capability and financial muscle to handle the demand in a region. Then there's the Manual Distribution Centre (MDC) model which operates within densely populated areas eg around large towns and cities. The MDCs are independent businesses with links to their local bottler who may provide technical support (eg sales training and general support) and credit to the MDCs. Distribution from the MDCs is mostly ‘manual’ with crates being loaded on to handcarts, bicycles etc. This ensures that you will get Coca-cola's products to a Kiosk near you anytime!

Please tweet me your comments @KenyanMarketer and join the #BillionReasons & #iBelieveInAfrica conversation on twitter.


  1. i am working on a localized version of the "A billion reasons to believe in Africa" campaign for Kenya. localizing it down to the wire, Would you know who i can approach with the final idea?

    1. Follow me on Twitter @KenyanMarketer and I'll share more with you over there! Cool? Can help you get your ideas to them. However much of what the brand does locally is stuff sent from Atlanta hence at times the disconnect with the local market....but they'll definitely adopt a great idea!

  2. I have also discovered new success secrets today. What a good post.