• Owner of the Brand – Coca Cola Incorporation is the owner of the Coca Cola brand, head quartered in USA
• History of the Brand – Coca Cola brand was first introduced in 1886 by a pharmacist named Dr. John S. Pemberton. This original recipe for Coca Cola was initially sold a patent medicines in soda fountain stores claiming that it would be a remedy for ailments which includes nausea, heartburns and headaches. The bookkeeper of Dr. Pemberton designed the logo and named the beverage as “Coca Cola”.
Prior to Pemberton’s death he sold the business to an Atlanta businessman named Candler and by 1889 Candler acquired the rights for both the formula and the Coca Cola name and the brand. He incorporated Coca Cola company in 1892 expanding the distribution of Coca Cola syrup concentrates to soda fountains beyond Atlanta. Moreover, Candler promoted the drink through giving free drink vouchers and also outfitting pharmacies and soda fountains with items carrying Coca Cola branding.
The marketing promotions carried out resulted in a significant increase in demand. In 1894 a businessman in Mississippi began bottling the beverage in order to make t portable. By 1895 Candler built bottling plants in multiple cities to deal with the increasing demand. (Sagar, 2009)
With the beverage gaining popularity in the bottle form, many counterfeits were produced. This compelled Coca Cola to invest in advertising to urge the public to demand the genuine. As a result, in 1916 the first contour bottle was manufactured allowing Coca Cola to distinguish its products from the imitations.
In 1919 Coca Cola Company was sold to a group of investors and as a result the company was expanded talking Coca Cola brand and beverage to the rest of the world.
Coca Cola started distributing bottles as “six packs”, encouraging customers to purchase the beverage for their homes as well.
In 1928 Coca cola was introduced as a sponsor for Olympic Games, allowing the company to gain high level international exposure which has continued up to present.
• Products offered under the brand – The product portfolio offered by Coca Cola includes over 500 beverage brands, inclusive of 3,500 beverages. These range from regular, low and no calorie sparkling beverages to still beverages such as 100% fruit drinks and fruit juices, sports ; energy drinks, water, teas, coffee and milk and soy-based beverages. (Aggarwal, 2008)
• Position of the brand- Initially the brand was positioned as a patent medicine which can be used as a cure for headache. However, since year 2014 the positioning has changed and has been focused on “live on the coke side of life”, refreshing the world and quenching thirst, cultural values, family, friends, every day life’s joys, open happiness and consistency & high quality. Main highlight of the approach is “think global, act local” approach
• Brand Elements – Coca Cola name with the unique letters and the colour, Coca Cola Logo, the contour bottle, the unique taste
• Distribution – Within Coca Cola’s distribution strategy bottling partners play a significant role. Company produces the beverage bases, concentrates and syrups and sells to the bottling partners and they manufacture, package and distribute the final product to the vending partners and customer who then again sell the beverage to the consumers. (Verma, 2009)
• Competitors – Direct competitors are Pepsi, Red Bull, Diet Coke/ Diet Pepsi, Fanta, Gatorade, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew. Lipton, Nescafe and Tropicana can be identified as the indirect competitors
• Approximate value of the brand – The brand value of Coca Cola in 2018 amounts to 79.96 US Dollar Billion.
1.2 Brand Association and Brand Awareness of Coca Cola
Brand association and brand awareness play a significant role in creating strong brand recall in the mind of the customers. Being well aware of this Coca Cola has invested heavily on creating brand awareness and brand association though effective utilization of many modes.
During the initial stage Candler used a coupon system which enabled customers to get free drinks through which created a strong word of mouth popularity for the brand. This contributed effectively in creating the initial brand awareness and association inspiring the customers to try the product. (Keller, 2009)
Subsequently the brand promotion has been carried out through both conventional and non-conventional advertising which include TV advertising, large display units, magazine advertising, pennants etc. Moreover, Coca Cola has invested heavily in community events, sponsoring the events and also offering free drinks at the events creating an emotional link with the customers. One of the major highlights of the brand promotion activities of the company is sponsoring sports events which are local as well as international which includes massive international events such as the Olympic. Unless and otherwise for the successful brand association and awareness, Coca Cola would never be able to become the global carbonated beverage giant possessing unmatched customer appeal and loyalty.
1.3 Critical Evaluation of the current status of the brand and the challenges faced by Coca Cola at present
Being the world’s largest carbonated beverage manufacturer with extensive presence in more than 200 countries in the world Coca Cola brand and the product holds undisputed customer loyalty and appeal given the consistency in quality and taste in all locations in which it operates and the emotional link that the brand crates with the customer life events.
Coca Cola’s position in the global market remains stable and strong yet the company operates in an extensively competitive business environment where the competition from Pepsi is increasing at a rapid rate. In addition to being profitable and driving business expansion, at present Coca Cola is intensely focused towards building a sustainable community through introduction of initiatives to reduce their environmental foot print, support active and healthy living, create safe and inclusive work environment and also enhance economic development of the communities in which the company operates. (Mathur, 2010)
Furthermore, it is evident that the sales revenue generated by the brand especially the carbonated beverage portfolio has experienced a sharp drop mainly due to the rapid consumer shift towards healthy consumption patterns.
Amidst the circumstances it should be highlighted that Coca Cola stands strong in the global context withstanding the increasing competition and at the same time investing a considerable amount of money and efforts in new product developments to create business benefits from the emerging trends in consumer preference.
Further to the above, following can be identified as the main challenges faced by Coca Cola brand and the product; (Verma, 2006)