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Coca-Cola exec: Time to scale what is working on mobile

NEW YORK ? A Coca-Cola executive who delivered the opening keynote presentation at Mobile Marketer's Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2014 conference yesterday said that the coming 12 months will be about scaling up several strategies that were determined to work last year.

As Coca-Cola pours more resources into mobile, the executive was not sure which other channels would take a hit. The funding could also be incremental if Coca-Cola is able to prove that for every $1 invested in mobile, $2 is generated as mobile is unique in that it can enable transactions.

?Strategically, the role of mobile within the Coca-Cola company has not changed in the last three years,? said Tom Daly, group director of mobile and search at The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, GA. ?The idea of having a phone in one hand to put a Coke in the other remains true.

?The difference for 2014 will be in the detail, no brand new strategy or vision,? he said.

?If you think about putting 70 percent of your energy into the things that work, 20 percent into making those work harder and 10 percent into new ideas, we are starting to populate the 70 with what we know works in mobile. Two thousand and fourteen will be about making those things better. How do we leverage more resources to capture the accelerated growth in our business.?

Cash evolves
Mr. Daly was also a presenter at the 2013 FirstLook conference and took the time at this week?s session to recap what his predictions had been for 2013 and review how Coca-Cola delivered on these.

A year ago, Mr. Daly discussed how the mobile opportunity extends across the entire organization and is not just a consumer-facing opportunity.

This remains true.

?It is a missed opportunity if we silo mobile in a completely consumer-facing bucket,? Mr. Daly said.

Transactions were also a focus for Coca-Cola in 2013 and will continue to be so this year.

?There is no future world where cash stays as it is today,? Mr. Daly said. ?I don?t care whether you think it is going to be NFC or peripherals like Square.

?I don?t have a crystal ball as to which approach is going to win. But there is absolutely no future world where people are not buying the stuff you sell on a mobile phone.?

Isis partnership continues
Coca-Cola is one of the participants in the Isis NFC mobile payments program, enabling consumers to make purchases from a vending machine using their smartphones and the results have been good, particularly as a recruitment tool for My Coke Rewards. As a result, Coca-Cola will continue to participate as the program rolls out nationwide.

One of the ways that Coca-Cola delivered in mobile in 2013 includes a new loyalty program in Korea called Coke Play, which was developed as a mobile-first program for teenagers and has been successful in driving volume and loyalty.

?It is a platform upon which the business in Korea is growing and this program is integral to that,? Mr. Daly said.

In the United States, Coca-Cola continues to see mobile growth in its My Coke Rewards program, with consumers asking for and engaging with the platform from mobile.

The results from 2013 also show that, in North America, mobile is proven to grow basket size through the use of strategies such as list-making and dynamic offers in real-time.

Mobile video
Mobile video is both an opportunity and challenge Mr. Daly sees for 2014.

?We see from 2012 to 2013, exponential growth in mobile video use, more time spent with that content than on desktop,? Mr. Daly said.

?To keep up with that growth is work,? he said. ?There is a little bit of panic in this.

?As big as the growth from 2012 to 2013 was, we are below that,? he said. ?Mobile video is an explosive trend; we are struggling to keep up.?

Looking forward, Mr. Daly said that while augmented reality can provide very interesting experiences that can have an impact, it is not ready to scale at this point.

He is also not sure how big wearables will be. Still, Coca-Cola is exploring this area to begin to understand the impact with the Red Shine wearable.

Bluetooth Low Energy beacons is another area the company is keeping an eye on in 2014.

The company is also exploring the intersection of mobile and social, particularly as it relates to how this can create capabilities for its customers, meaning bottlers, so they can have a relationship with the consumer.

Operational issues
Coca-Cola is also using mobile at the bottler level in markets such as Latin America to improve merchandising at smaller retailers for whom ordering an entire case of Coca-Cola may be too much.

The beverage giant is also using mobile to better manage out of stocks by placing a mobile device and application in the hands of a store employee, leveraging location and touch screen capabilities to make it easy.

Another area of focus for Coca-Cola in 2013 was ironing out the operational issues to move mobile forward and that will continue to be a focus this year.

One way that Coca-Cola is addressing some of the operational issues is with new digital design guidelines so that anyone can easily understand how to develop a mobile experience for Coca-Cola that delivers on the basics.

The beverage company is also providing instructions on how to put 2D bar codes on packaging when it can bring value to a consumer.

?This is a signal that mobile is becoming entrenched,? Mr. Daly said. ?When you start to see this stuff codified and shared with marketers, it is real.?

Final Take
Tom Daly is group director of mobile and search at The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, GA