How Coca-Cola uses data to supercharge its superbrand status

20 Mar 2017

  • Analytics
  • Data

By: Alicia Tan, Managing Editor, ADMA

For 130 years, Coca-Cola has been a brand that is well-loved by the young and old in all corners of the globe. But resting on its laurels alone with a traditional marketing strategy wasn’t going to sit well with Coca-Cola drinkers who have, over the last few years, grown used to having their voices heard and their say taken into consideration.

In 2015, Coca-Cola bolstered its data strategy by building a digital-led loyalty program. While consumers chalked up rewards, the organisation was able to collect essential “first-party” data through social authentication. With this ever-growing database, Coca-Cola was able to connect with its consumers better to increase consumption of its existing line of products, as well as “upsell” new products. This strategy has proven to work very well for the superbrand, not just in terms of sales but also in improving its organisational structure to cut down on overtime costs and increase revenue.

Justin De Graaf, Director of Data Strategy and Precision Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company, fills us in on why data is vital for FMCG brands to thrive.

1. Coca-Cola is still one of the most recognisable brands globally.How has the organisation managed this?

Coca-Cola has worked hard for more than 130 years to become such a recognised brand. That hard work converts to consumer recognition and brand love because we are serious about providing our consumers with great products, a great experience and brands that connect with them.

2. How much does the role of data play in Coca-Cola remaining relevant and staying connected to its consumers in the age of digital transformation? What about data and product development?

Data plays an increasingly important role in marketing and product development. Consumers do a great job of sharing their opinions with us - either by phone, email or social networks - that allow us to hear their voice and adjust our approach. We often talk about why we have two ears and one mouth - it's better to listen more than we speak. This holds true with our approach on consumer input. Data is also helping us create more relevant content for different audiences. We want to focus on creating advertising content that speaks differently to different audiences. Some people love music. Other people watch every sport no matter what time of year. Our brands are already visible in those spaces, and we're working hard to use data to bring branded content that aligns with people's passions.

3. Naturally, you guys have a lot of data coming through. What’s Coca-Cola’s approach when it comes to big data?

Big data needs to start small. It can be overwhelming for data scientists and executives. Our teams focus on key outcomes that we believe data will help deliver, and then we build a business case to support it. With endless problems that data can address, it's critical that we prioritize our resources toward the ones that drive the greatest consumer and business value. When our work focuses on those two priorities, it's hard not to have stronger results.

4. With so much data coming through, what’s the organisation’s take on data governance and the issue of privacy? How do you build consumer trust?

Coca-Cola has earned brand trust for more than a century, and we intend to keep building that trust in an age of data. We take privacy seriously and have a global Privacy Office and Privacy Program (our privacy policy can be found here) so that we collect, store, and use data in a privacy safe way. Our teams also apply common-sense principles that help guide our day-to-day actions. Data privacy can seem overwhelming, but when you have talented teams applying common sense approaches in conjunction with our company policy, it's much easier for us to leverage data while honouring our privacy commitments.

5. As new technologies continue to explode, what do you think are some of the key challenges that Coca-Cola or the FMCG industry will face?

Technology doesn't present challenges for us as much as it creates new opportunities. When someone has an ice cold Coca-Cola, it's a moment of refreshment and enjoyment. We want our marketing to reinforce that great experience and will always work to make our consumer connections stronger. What consumers don't like is being bothered, interrupted or targeted with ads that aren't relevant to them. I don't like that in my own feeds, and neither do our consumers. We understand that. So we plan to use data and technology to continually improve on our brand experiences.

Catch Justin De Graaf at ADMA's Data Day 2017. For a full list of speakers and program click here.

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CATEGORY Analytics Data

TYPE Article