My Thoughts: Coca-Cola may still bring to mind images of red and white and make us instantly imagine the taste of a sugary caramel-like fizzy liquid pouring down our throats … but in the midst of our more health-conscious approach to what exactly it IS we’re pouring down our throats (and how those have led to obesity, diabetes and other health problems), the success of Coca-Cola in the future rests on much more than “Coke.”
As this cultural shift toward healthier consumption has pushed forward, Coca-Cola has been faced with the choice of trying to reinvigorate the Coke product line itself, or by pivoting its brand and expanding into other growing markets.
When it comes to the Coke brand itself, one approach that has worked somewhat has been pushing for lifestyle to trump health concerns. Or, by reinventing Coke itself in other iterations that are more in-line with the desires of today’s health-conscious consumer (both of which it has definitely done – but with less than amazing results). The issue is that in these instances they’re going against a larger cultural zeitgeist and actively fighting to drive consumer one way, while most media is pushing the other way.
So instead of trying to change or influence customer behavior and habits to make us once again drink more sugary drinks, Coca-Cola is taking cues from the market itself and transforming itself into a “total beverage company” – particularly by expanding its product line (through acquisitions and its own new products) to offer products that have a much better product/market fit in the 21st century.
It’s a smart move. They have massive infrastructure in place to produce, package and distribute any kind of beverage – and people aren’t consuming less liquid than they had been – but their habits are changing. All Coca-Cola is doing is adjusting their product line so that even though what the customer might grab next may not have “Coke” written in big white and red text on the label, it’s still a Coca-Cola product.
The future of Coca-Cola rests on it becoming a “total beverage company,” according to Quincey, who will take the reins as CEO of the company in May. In February, he introduced “Coke’s Way Forward,” a plan to ensure its future success.
The plan comes at an opportune time, as U.S. soda sales dropped for the 11th consecutive year in 2015, falling to a 30-year low, according to Beverage Digest.