“I made this letter very long because I did not have the
leisure to make it shorter”
Questions for the client
1. Can we please sample the product?
2. What are the production process like? Particularly with regards to the stevia plant?
3. What market research do you have that you can share with us (also for Coke Classic, Diet Coke and Coke
4. More speciﬁcally, have you done any research on former customer, who’s left the cola category? Who are
they and why did they leave?
5. What were the ﬁndings that led to the development and introduction of Coke Life? What were the business
and market opportunities that were identiﬁed?
6. What have been your marketing strategies for the various test markets?
7. What have been the results and learnings from these markets?
8. How do you respond to negative publicity, for example to claims of deceiving the public of what is still a
fairly large amount of sugar, and that stevia is actually a harmful ingredient, which only in 2008 and 2011 were
legalised for food production in the US and EU respectively?
Identifying the challenge
Advertising in test-markets and media coverage both in Australia and overseas have so far focused on Coke
Life as a mid-calorie alternative, essentially positioning it on a scale of calorie content between Coke Classic
on one end and Diet Coke and Coke Zero on the other.
With each end of the scale oﬀering established and popular alternatives, there is little to suggests that a
signiﬁcant market opportunity exists in the gap between these, despite slight improvements in taste. It is
hard to imagine many calorie-conscious consumers choosing a mid-calorie drink when tasty zero-calorie
Positioning Coke Life according to calorie content fails on a number of points, which come to represent the
challenges for an Australian launch strategy:
• Fulﬁlling the potential of Coke Life’s ‘natural’ credentials.
• Finding a role within the wider cultural shift that triggered the innovation of Coke Life in the
• Creating a new market that doesn’t cannibalise sibling brands.
• Leveraging the equity of the Coca-Cola brand.
Identifying the opportunity
Coca-Cola Classic is about as mainstream as a brand can get, and for many years it was all Coca-Cola needed.
With shifts in culture, however, came the need for innovation. Increased focus on health in the 80s led to the
introduction of Diet Coke, targeted mainly at women, who at the time were the most health conscious - the
focus being on losing weight by consuming fewer calories. When men followed suit and sugar was made the
main culprit for over-weight populations, Coke Zero was introduced in 2005.
Both have been highly successful and combined constitute 32% of cola sales in Australia (2013).
Since the introduction of Coke Zero, concerns have been raised about zero-calorie foods and drinks,
especially in the US. These options have been perceived as compromises, whereas calories have been
replaced with chemicals and harmful additives. During the same period a new concept of what’s regarded
‘healthy’ has emerged. ‘Natural’ is a key part of this concept.
‘Natural’ is a key diﬀerentiator for Coke Life, and the opportunity exists to create a new category
of Coke, targeting those for whom neither Coke Classic nor Diet Coke/Coke Zero longer appeal.
(1,5 Cal, 0 g. sugar)
(136 Cal, 34 g. sugar)
LOTS OF CALORIES
(210 Cal, 53 g. sugar)
Four’s a crowd. What is two distinct propositions - ‘original’
and ‘zero-calorie’ - will be watered out and blend into three
shades of diﬀerent calorie-content when Coke Life is added.
With three categories, consumers are oﬀered three
• The original and best (but lots of calories)
• Zero calories (but artiﬁcial)
• Natural (but with some calories)
When subculture becomes mass culture
In order to identify the people to whom Coke Life may appeal and why, we will ﬁrst take a look at the cultural
trend that created a demand for a natural variety of Coke.
The last decade or so has seen a macro-trend sweeping the globe that has left few aspects of modern life
untouched. While it can be explained by a number of factors, it’s likely to have been fueled in part by events
such as 9/11, the GFC and an increased focus on the environment. As is the natural lifecycle for any successful
trend, what started out as alternative lifestyles in various subcultures have now hit the mainstream, slowly
aﬀecting the lives of more and more people. As such it is no longer as much a trend as it is modern culture.
For the purpose of this strategy response, we will call it the ‘Sustainable-Authentic’ movement, or lifestyle.
Key words include:
The new ‘healthy’
The ‘Sustainable-Authentic’ movement has been particularly impactful in the area of food and drinks, and
from a singleminded focus on calories, the idea of what’s healthy has evolved to become more complex.
Key words include:
It is according to these concepts that Coke Life must be perceived as credible, and it is these concepts with
which Coke Life must be associated.
Who are we talking to
The typical Coke Life customer will be someone who grew up drinking Coke Classic; switched to Diet Coke or
Coke Zero when becoming aware of their sugar and calorie consumption, before cutting out colas all together
(or at least reducing their consumption) after becoming skeptical of zero-calorie products.
Most people simply prefer what feels safe and familiar. Most people don’t want to venture too far outside their
comfort zone, they have no need to be on the cutting edge of innovation and culture. Which is why the
majority of people are slow to take up a new trend, and when they do, they practice a light version of it.
But few, if any, can resist being inﬂuenced by an evolving culture, and will therefore adapt to it, often
subconsciously, in an eﬀort simply to keep up with the world around them. Through no fault of their own their
tastes and preferences evolve accordingly, and these are currently being deﬁned by the ‘Sustainable-
While aspiring to a ‘Sustainable-Authentic’ lifestyle, and embracing elements of it, there are also many
aspects they don’t relate to. They may love Masterchef, but think foraging for native ingredients is a step too
far. They recycle their trash, but it doesn’t mean they want to walk down the street wearing recycled clothes.
They may not want to pay $7 for a pretentious organic cola, but their familiarity with Coca-Cola means Coke
Life is a brand that lets them practice a lighter version of the lifestyle without leaving their comfort zone.
And it is not a niche market...
The ‘early majority’
To illustrate the size of the market, it can be helpful to apply the ‘Sustainable-Authentic’ movement to E.M.
Roger’s innovation-adoption lifecycle.
The movement has arguably reached a stage where it is now being adopted by the Early Majority. It is
therefore this group that Coke Life will target for its launch. The early majority makes up around 34% of the
population, and research will help us deﬁne this group further.
As the movement trickles down to the late majority, so will the target audience of Coke Life expand/evolve.
Our Core Target Audience?
MY KITCHEN RULES CONTESTANTS 2015
‘Natural’ is perceived as
being healthy irrespective of
calorie content, opening up
for a new category of cola.
movement has become main-
stream, changing ideas about
what is regarded ‘healthy’.
While continually adapting to
an evolving culture most
people still prefer that which
feels safe and familiar.
Coke Life oﬀers an accessible and familiar alternative for the
‘Early Majority’ who practice a light version of the ‘Sustainable-
So how do we best bring this proposition to life?
For many, the skepticism towards Coca-Cola will be impossible to overcome. However, amongst many former
and existing customers we will ﬁnd goodwill, and we will be able to leverage a familiarity with the brand.
They want to drink Coke, they just need a little help to justify it.
There is also an obvious conﬂict between Coca-Cola as a cornerstone of capitalism and the ethos of the
‘Sustainable-Authentic’ movement. However, while the movement had its roots among various idealists, we
are targeting the mainstream audiences within it. Nevertheless, there is a balance that we need to strike in
order to be perceived as credible also amongst this group.
The role for communication becomes:
Establish Coke Life as a credible natural alternative
for mainstream audiences within the ‘Sustainable-
One of the key pillars of Coke’s marketing has always been their distribution strategy, best illustrated by
former Coca-Cola president Robert Woodruﬀ’s famous vision: “within an arms length reach of desire”.
In the launch phase for Coke Life, however, it’s important to practice some moderation, as a clear and distinct
distribution strategy is an eﬀective way of claiming ‘Sustainable-Authentic’ credentials. Ideally, Coke Life will
be distributed in diﬀerent channels than Coke Classic, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.
• Fast casual restaurants such as Mad Mex and Grill’d instead of traditional fast-food outlets like McDonalds.
• Harris Farm, Independent grocery- health food- and wholefood shops instead of Woolworths and Coles.
• Farmer’s markets
• Independent cafes
The challenge is to ﬁnd a balance between places our target audience actually shop and channels that convey
the desired brand image.
Authenticity is key to any brand who wants to be seen as part of the ‘Sustainable-Authentic’ culture. As a
corporate behemoth Coca-Cola has arguably a bit of a job to do on this front. On the other hand, the
company does also have a strong mythology: its origins as a medicine sold in pharmacies; rumours of
containing cocaine; a secret recipe and being the inventor of the modern Santa Clause. Coke Life can tap into
the equity of these assets when creating their own brand story.
This story is likely to include stories about the rich history of the stevia plant.
The medium is the message. To strike the right balance between ‘commercial’ and ‘alternative’, media
placement becomes crucial. It’s not simply about reaching as many as possible, rather ads should appear in
media that are somehow relevant to the ‘Sustainable-Authentic’ movement. Perhaps a mix of commercial
properties such as Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules and more niche properties with target audiences
predominantly among ‘early adopters’. While the latter may not be viewed by 100% of the early majority, a
more niche and exclusive channel strategy will in itself contribute to building the brand.
There is a wide range of verbal, visual and behavioural codes and cues that convey the various aspects of the
‘Sustainable-Authentic’ culture, e.g. ‘authentic’, ‘sustainable’, ‘ethical’ etc. Whereas niche brands and
innovators may break with established conventions, it is important that a mainstream player like Coke Life
understands and adheres to these.
Merely talking about being ‘natural’ isn’t enough. Design, packaging and POS should all go towards telling a
more speciﬁc story about these aspects of the brand. The recyclable bottle is a start.
PARTNERSHIPS AND INITIATIVES
Coca-Cola is involved in a wide range of partnerships and community initiatives. Coke Life must identify those
with some sort of credibility in and connection to the new world into which it is asked to be invited.
• Sponsor alternative sports like surﬁng and skating.
• Sponsor cooking shows
• Create relevant content
• Community initiatives - community gardens etc
• Partner with local restaurants
• Something with yoga
Strategic pillars - Summary
Targeted. Limited. Independent. Exclusive.
Leverage mother-brand to build its own mythology.
Building the brand more important than maximum reach.
Follow established conventions, codes, cues and behaviours.
PARTNERSHIPS AND INITIATIVES
Identify properties with credibility in the new world.