The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company, operating in over 200 countries
with a product line that includes over 2,800 diverse items. The company's primary responsibility is
to develop concentrates, beverage bases and syrups, which are sold to bottling companies that
comprise the world's largest beverage distribution system. In addition to product development, the
Coca-Cola Company is responsible for product marketing. Their mission is to refresh the world,
inspire moments of optimism, and to create value and make a difference.
B. External Environment
Coca-Cola is recognized as the world's most valuable brand. The company has been extremely
successful in global marketing, and experts indicate that this success is largely based on product
variation and adaptation (Lamb, Hair & McDaniels, p. 114). Since the Coca-Cola Company
extends to over 200 countries (with headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia), they have an
immense need to diversify their products and create a marketing plan that meets the socio-cultural
interests of all their customers (vendors) and consumers (drinkers) around the world. The Coca-
Cola trademark is recognized worldwide, no matter what language is printed on the bottle.
However, the Coca-Cola Company must continue to tailor their marketing plan and product
development to respect each consumer's unique values, beliefs and cultures. An example of the
Coca-Cola Company adapting to the external socio-cultural environment is in 2007, the Coca-Cola
Company received a silver award at the Iberoamerican Advertising Festival for their quot;Levate la
Manoquot; (Raise Your Hand) commercial that was aired in Latin America (2007 Annual Report:
Marketing Highlights). Coca-Cola has also created a unique formulation for Sprite sold in Japan to
meet the cultural preferences (p. 114).
Social factors have been carefully considered in the company's marketing plan. The Coca-Cola
Company has successfully developed products to please the 21st century's health-conscious
consumer with brands like Coca-Cola Zero (their best selling brand in over 25 years), sports drinks,
and bottled water. Coca-Cola must continue to adapt to the external environmental threat of the
healthy lifestyle movement through product development and marketing of healthy options available
in the product line.
The United States is currently experiencing an economic recession. This period of negative growth
includes higher unemployment, inflation, and cost of living expenses while consumers are
experiencing lower disposable income and purchasing power (p. 641). The Coca-Cola Company
contracts with numerous bottling companies around the world to create and distribute their
beverages. The weakened economy could have a negative impact on any of the bottling
companies, which would threaten the stability of the Coca-Cola Company due to the dependent
relationship. The Coca-Cola Company must be profitable in order to sustain their investment in
communities around the world. Furthermore, small communities depend on large businesses like
the Coca-Cola Company to strengthen their own economy and help create social and
environmental programs. The Coca-Cola Company has been very successful in helping other
nations grow and become economically stable by investing millions of dollars back into the
countries in which they are operating.
Legal factors that could pose an environmental threat to the Coca-Cola Company include new
legislation or regulation of food and beverage products. Activists are trying to push for more
government involvement in product advertising and labeling. While many laws have already been
passed in this regard, expanded or new laws could threaten the company by creating more
overhead expenses and decreasing the profit margin.
In today's marketplace, technology is a key player in helping a business stay profitable. Large
businesses, like the Coca-Cola Company, must invest in technological research to find ways to
become more efficient, and ultimately better competitors. The Coca-Cola Company should address
external technological threats by investing directly in applied research to improve recording and
monitoring of the sales, production and delivery process between the Coca-Cola Company and the
bottling companies (p. 90).
Consumer tastes and needs are ever changing. With the new focus on health and nutrition and
concerns with obesity, many consumers are changing their behaviors and products choices. Tea
products, bottled water and energy drinks have become favored as opposed to the typical soft
drink. This is an external threat to the Coca-Cola Company, as these changes in preferences have
increased the number of competitors in the industry. The Coca-Cola Company is not only in
competition with soft drink companies, like PepsiCo, Inc., but with other unassuming companies like
Unilever, Kraft Foods, and Nestle. The Coca-Cola Company must continue aggressive efforts in
responsible marketing, community investment and product development to hold the No. 1 place in
sales of juice, ready-to-drink coffees, and teas. Surprisingly, Coca-Cola is ranked No. 3 in soft
drinks, but their No. 1 ranking in juices, teas and coffee products indicate that they are in touch with
their consumer's interests, and that they understand that soft drinks cannot be their sole products in
order to sustain business.
C. Target Market
The primary target market of the Coca-Cola Company is all consumers of all nations that have a
thirst for a high-quality beverage from a reputable brand that cares about small communities and
saving the environment. The Coca-Cola Company is well known for advertising to persons of all
ages, genders, incomes, ethnicity and lifestyles. Nevertheless, more specifically, over the last
decade the Coca-Cola Company has focused on a secondary target market, based on specific
psycho-graphic characteristics, of consumers that are health conscious and interested in buying
products to support their overall wellness. The Coca-Cola Company has reached this market
through many product lines, and has customized their website to provide healthy resources and
marketing of products that are considered smart choices.
Coca-Cola is the number one selling sparkling beverage in North America. Coca-Cola is primarily a
business product. As a business product, Coke is sold to grocery stores, convenience stores, gas
stations, vending companies and restaurants. Coke could also be considered a convenience
product as it is a relatively inexpensive item that merits little shopping (Lamb, Hair, McDaniel, pg.
308). It is can found almost everywhere, from schools, hotel, theme parks, airports, places of
business and even rest stops on the highways. Coca-cola was packaged solely as soda fountain
drink when it was introduced in 1886. In 1894, a candy storeowner started placing the drink in
bottles and approached the owner of the Coca-Cola Company, Asa Griggs Candler, about bottling
the drink. Candler declined. Then in 1899, Candler sold the rights to bottle the drink and over the
next 10 years, 400 bottling plants would be born. The packaging of red and white Coca-Cola
products is a world recognized. There are three main functions of packaging (Lamb, Hair and
McDaniel, pg. 320):
1. Contain and protect the product
2. Promote the product
3. Facilitate storage, use and convenience
The Coca-Cola bottling plants have continued to develop new packaging to meet these three
functions, while also adding the ability to recycle and produce a product that is no longer seen as
waste, but as a valuable resource for the future (www.coca-cola.com). This recycling initiative adds
to Coca-Colas position in the consumer market. The products that Coca-Cola offers have many
strong competitors and it is important for the brand to be recognized everywhere as a leader in all
aspects, from taste and price to contributions and recycling.
The Coca-Cola Company uses status quo pricing. It is important for Coca-Cola to stay competitive
in price with its leading competitors. This type of pricing is also known as meeting the competition.
Most prices are set by the retailers of the product, but in general, these prices are based on the
growing rate. It almost seems as if Coca-Cola and its competitors have a cooperative agreement
when pricing – one week Coca-Cola is on sale and the next it is Pepsi. However, this is not set by
the cola companies, but that of the grocery stores to maximize sales.
Coca-Cola is distributed to more than 200 countries, with more than 450 brands consisting of 2800
beverage products. Each of these products is packaged and formulated to meet the consumer
needs and preferences of its region or country. Coca-cola produces the product, but relies on its
distribution channel to get the product to the consumer, by working with bottling companies and
retailers. Coca-cola does not have control over the entire distribution channel, but has strong
governing principles for all of its suppliers to ensure they adhere to Coca-Colas guidelines.
How does Coke use marketing communication to reach customers?
By making relationships with not only consumers but also everyone who comes in contact with
Coke products, Coca Cola is able to market to a diverse amount of people. According to Muhtar
Kent, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, “Building cross-cultural
relationships, in particular, is why we are the largest beverage company in the world…and why
nearly 80 percent of our revenue and profits come from outside North America.” (Kent 2007)
Overall, good business ethics play a major role in how Coca Cola handles the business.
What does their promotional mix include?
Coca Cola’s promotional mix includes product, price, place, and promotion. Coke’s product, all
2800 of them, varies from soft drinks all the way to just water and, depending on the product, the
price can vary quite much. Just Coca-Cola alone is found all over the world. How is that for
placement? Coke’s promotional efforts, of course, span worldwide. According to the Coca Cola
website, the per capita consumption of Coke products as increased from 1987 to 2007 in Africa,
Eurasia, European Union, Latin America, North America, and the Pacific. (www.thecoca-
What promotional strategies do they use?
One of the promotional strategies that Coke advertises comes right from the website. It uses
phrases like, “Satisfying your needs” and “The choice is yours…” to let consumers know that they
are being taken care of and have control over what they consume. (www.thecoca-
colacompany.com) In addition, Coke also offers links on their website to help the consumer learn
about hydration, sweeteners and taste.
H. Overall Marketing Mix
How do the “4 P’s” work together to bring a cohesive ‘package’ to the consumer?
Because Coca Cola has an enormous amount of diverse consumers from diverse locations around
the world, Coca Cola can easily adjust just one thing like price or all four components to cater to the
diverse needs of Coke’s consumers, and still make a profit.
How does one marketing mix strategy affect another?
Depending on the market segmentation, the proximity of other segments and the current marketing
mixes being implemented will make the difference on how well the marketing mix does in each of
those areas. After the market segmentation is selected, a more exact description of consumer
needs and wants can be determined. Next, marketing objectives that are more accurate, followed
by improved resource allocation, can be planned. Putting all the elements together will lead to
better marketing results. According to Charles W. Lamb, Jr., Joseph F. Hair, Jr., and Carl McDaniel,
authors of Marketing,
“Before 1960, for example, the Coca-Cola Company produced only one beverage and aimed it at
the entire soft drink market. Today, Coca-Cola offers over a dozen different products to market
segments based on diverse consumer preferences for flavors and calorie and caffeine content.
Coca-Cola offers traditional soft drinks, energy drinks (such as Powerade), flavored teas, fruit
drinks (Fruitopia), and water Dasani).” (Lamb, Hair, and McDaniel 2006) One can see the many
dimensions of Coca Cola’s product line and how specific the marketing mixes have to be to stay
competitive among other businesses.
Are there limitations to the marketing mix?
Yes. For example, if a can of Coke sold for a penny here in America and there was advertising
everywhere about Coca-Cola products, people might question the quality of the soda; the coke
might not sell very well. On the other hand, a Coke machine out on the top of a mountain or a $25
can of Fresca probably will not appeal to many people; also will not profit. The main point of
marketing mix is the mix; it has to be just right to provide the desired results.
What are the disadvantages or pitfalls to the strategies used by this company?
Because Coca-Cola uses advertising props such as billboards, painted buildings and sings, this
could affect the buying habits of an ever-growing group of people, environmentalists. The kind of
paint used on the building could be toxic, the signs could end up littering land, and depending on
how well the billboards are maintained, they could be a possible pollutant as well. (www.aidg.org)
How does this company keep momentum?
Coca-Cola keeps their momentum by following changes in the consumer environment and
responding with new products. According to Erich Joachimsthaler, author of Is Coke Zero a Tonic
for What Ails Coca-Cola?, “Coke Zero gives the Coca-Cola company much needed momentum.”
(Joachimsthaler 2007) Coke Zero is an attempt at luring men to “diet” drinks because it sounds less
How do they maintain a relationship with their customers?
In order to maintain a relationship with their customers, Coca-Cola offers Coke Solutions on their
website to appeal to the retailers that sell Coke products. There are links such as better beverage
marketing, crew programs and innovations and insights.
Have they lost touch? Will they lose touch in the future?
Coca-Cola has not lost touch because they have been able to change with the times after
evaluating feedback and listening to their customers. Coke knows that people and trends change
and they should be able to adjust to future demands.
The Coca-Cola Company is well ahead of the game with their marketing efforts, which has allowed
them to sustain profitability for over 100 years. Their conviction that Coca-Cola is the absolute best
beverage company is passionately communicated throughout the world. The Comany is not only
interested in advertising and marketing beverages, but making a difference in every corner of the
world in which they operate. The Coca-Cola Company strives to go beyond simple marketing and
reach into the hearts and lives of consumers.
Lamb, Hair & McDaniels. Marketing. 8th ed. Thomson Southwestern Publishing, Mason: Ohio
The Coca-Cola Company. Home page. 07 Oct 2008. www.thecoca-colacompany.com
quot;Product List.quot; The Coca Cola Company. 2008. The Coca Cola Company. 8 Oct 2008
quot;Per Capita Consumption.quot; The Coca Cola Company. 2008. The Coca Cola Company. 8 Oct 2008
quot;Satisfying Your Needs.quot; The Coca Cola Company. 2008. The Coca Cola Company. 8 Oct 2008
Fuchs, Miriam. quot;Coca Cola Marketing in Developing Countries.quot; AIDG. 11 Jul 2007. Appropriate
Infrastructure Development Group. 8 Oct 2008 <http://www.aidg.org/component/option,com_jd-
Joachimsthaler , Eric. quot;Is Coke Zero a Tonic for What Ails Coca-Cola?.quot; Conversation Starter. 19
Apr 2007. Harvard Business Publishing. 8 Oct 2008