How Coca-Cola leverages digital to reach 'beyond the real thing'
- Mariano Bosaz, Coca-Cola's VP of digital transformation, discussed several recent developments that exemplify how the company is leveraging digital technology like augmented reality (AR) to take consumers "beyond the real thing" during a presentation at the Adobe Symposium in Singapore last week, The Drum reported. The reference to the brand's iconic tagline, "It's the real thing," reflects how long-time marketers are evolving in the digital era.
- Coca-Cola recently added AR to its personalized cans in China, with each can representing a province in the country. The cans could be activated via one of China's internet services, such as Alibaba or Tencent via WeChat, to bring stories of the areas to life. "[We] can beat the real thing using augmented reality," Bosaz said.
- For Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the company replaced the usual brief sent out to agencies with a digitally-based invitation to the public asking them share sketches and visual ideas related to the brand and the games.
The presentation in Singapore provides some more color on how Coca-Cola is focusing on digital transformation in an effort to reach younger consumers, often referred to as "digital natives," who don't always distinguish the online and offline worlds. Major soda brands like Coke have struggled to win over the coveted millennial and Gen Z consumers, who tend to prefer less-sugary drinks.
Coca-Cola's four-point digital transformation plan includes enhancing customer experience and business transformation to stay on top of disruption. Coca-Cola is also focusing on operational transformation that includes leveraging data and technology and improving internal processes to boost speed to market. The brand is also working on cultural transformation to engage consumers on a personal level, "beyond storytelling, beyond the 30-second or three-second media," Bosaz said.
One example Bosaz referenced was how Coca-Cola leveraged content around the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore earlier this year. Cans had culturally relevant, personalized messages with both the English and North Korean words for Coca-Cola, playing up the brand's longtime campaign message "buy the world a Coke."
The four-part digital transformation strategy might help Coca-Cola achieve higher levels of personalization to extend brand experiences beyond the product itself. Consumers are increasingly expecting more personalized, relevant experiences, and marketers are responding by investing more in technology, including artificial intelligence and AR, to achieve those goals.
During its Q1 2018 earnings call, Coca-Cola said its digital marketing strategy has helped it build brand awareness with younger audiences. For the summer, the brand brought back its "Share a Coke" campaign, which included an expanded line of names on packages and the Share Chair, an oversized armchair that doubled as a vending machine offering personalized mini cans. The armchair also provided visitors a photo and video to share on social media.