The digital revolution offers opportunities to put a Coca-Cola “within a click’s reach of desire”, CEO James Quincey has said, in arguably one of the clearest signs yet that the company will continue to invest in e-commerce availability.
Quincey made the comments – a variation on a mantra used by long-time Coke president Robert Woodruff – at the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) in Singapore.
“The rate of mobile-only users in China is four times that of the US,” Quincey said. “The online-to-offline meals market in China is $30 billion. What’s $30 billion? It’s the size of the entire restaurant industry in Italy. And that’s just appeared in the last few years.”
At the heart of major change within Asia’s beverage industry was “rapid and exponential growth” in digital technologies, Quincey said.
“The digital age rewrites what we will be able to do… Think about the opportunities of digital marketing to create new points of connections with consumers,” he said. “Robert Woodruff, who was the long-time quasi-founder of The Coca-Cola Company, had one of his famous sayings, which was ‘I want to put a Coke within an arm’s reach of desire’. The digital revolution is changing that expression. Now it’s going to be about putting a Coke within a click’s reach of desire. Digital tools simply give consumers another way to express their choice and another way for us to meet their needs.
“We think about how we can be a part of their lives, how we can make sure it’s not just the brand they love [but also] the package size, the way they want it… We have taken an aggressive approach to this challenge over the last three years with a strategy that is very much centred on creating a consumer-centric portfolio.”
Coca-Cola has experimented with making its products available to add to shopping lists through Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa; applying its knowledge of in-store merchandising to drive impulse purchase online; and delivering Coke products to consumers’ homes through a pilot programme called eFulfillment, which facilitates direct-to-consumer orders through the company’s network of local bottlers.
It has also paired with Chef’d – one of the leaders in the US’ rapidly expanding meal kits sector – to incorporate Coca-Cola brands including Dasani, Gold Peak and trademark Coca-Cola into the company’s meal kit offerings.
Kantar Retail estimates that e-commerce accounts for 2% of grocery sales, but that could climb to 8% by 2025. According to iSHOP data, 23% of US shoppers buy groceries online each month.
This change will have a profound impact on how Coca-Cola identifies and fosters start-ups as part of its Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) unit, Quincey hinted.
He continued: “All of us in the consumer products space operate in a portfolio approach in one way or another. We want to meet the market wherever it wants to be, and that means we have to evolve how we think about our portfolios.
“For much of Coca-Cola’s history, we were actually one product. As we’ve evolved over the last decade, we’ve really looked at the portfolio and married the idea of what’s the beverage, what’s the drinking moment for the consumer…
“As we’ve been doing this, we’ve been embracing the core of what, in a way, The Coca-Cola Company has always been: a company which knows how to build brands, nurture brands and keep brands relevant.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019