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Coca-Cola Company is a manufacturer of soft drinks and has several lines of products with its own sub brands. This company operates globally and currently occupies more than 70% of the soft drinks market share in America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and other continents (Treadaway, 2010). The brand ‘Coca-Cola’ was recently ranked the strongest brand in the world.
It is a household name when it comes to refreshments. Coca-Cola, an American firm, has managed to maintain its market lead ahead of its main rival, Pepsi-cola even in the face of the worst economic conditions. Through its many product lines, the main brand has continued to experience a market growth even in countries that had regarded it a symbol of America’s dominance over the world (Kotler, 2003).
Social media has increasingly become popular in the world. Technology is moving very fast and with it are several changes in the communication sector. This super brand requires a massive awareness creation not just to its new sub-brands like Dasani, but also the older ones like Fanta. Conventional forms of mass media like newspapers, radios and television are still very vital forms of creating this awareness.
However, with emergence of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, communication is getting a new definition. A brand like Coca-cola cannot afford the consequences of assuming such new dynamics. The youths form a substantial portion of the target market for this brand.
Statistics has it that well over 85% of youths in America and Europe are using these social Medias, either through their personal computers or through mobile phones. In Asia, 70% are on social media while Africa has 65% on it (Falkow, 2010). The middle-aged group is not left behind. Having realized the importance of social media, Coca-cola has embarked on a massive investment in it (Armstrong, Harker, Kotler & Brannan, 2009).
On 10 January 2010, the company rolled out an ambitious plan on social media strategy and policy. This policy was to ensure that it reaches out to as many of its customers currently on social media as it possibly could.
This policy also saw it reduce its annual expenditure on other mass media by up to 6.6% by March 2010 in order to increase its investment in the social media (Times Business, 2010). All this is aimed at restructuring the company’s marketing strategy to enable the brand stay conspicuous in the market.
Coca-cola brand has remained strong even in the face of stiff market competition. There are several brands offering similar products as it does across the world, but one brand has managed to cause Coca-cola a scare in the American and overseas markets.
This brand is Pepsi-cola. Started over a century ago, this North American brand has grown to become a darling company to many in the U.S. and other markets overseas. Its sub-brands like Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Naked Juice, and Aquafina among others are very strong in the market. Its iced tea, which is ready to drink, is one of the best selling products in North America’s beverage industry.
This brand has realized the potential in the emerging social media and has taken well-calculated steps to tap from it. Pepsi Cola Company can easily be accessed through various social Medias. On Facebook, it can be accessed through https://www.facebook.com/pepsi, in Twitter through @pepsi, while on YouTube the link is https://www.youtube.com/user/Pepsi/Pepsi (Andreasen, 2001).
Time Business (2010) reported on Pepsi’s unusual withdrawal from the popular Super Bowl. Over the years, this sport has acted as a form of mass media advertisement to many corporations, Pepsi included. However, last year this brand withdrew from it in order to put more focus on social media, arguing that it is long gone, those days when mass media was regarded as the sole form of reaching customers.
This company has decided to reach its customers through these social media and this has seen it penetrate some markets that it previously considered too hostile. This approach has worked for it.
The presence of Pepsi brand in both the American and overseas markets are currently heavy enough to make it offer its main rival- Coca-cola, a proper challenge (Falkow, 2010). The youth can access the company’s site and get any information they may require about the brands market offerings.
In as much as Pepsi has gone to great length in application of social media, there have been some instances when some of its strategies have been considered ineffective. Its departure from the mass media is so sudden, and the approach it gives social media is near unrealistic (Evance, 2010).
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An initially Brick, Moter, and Moter company like Pepsi cannot apply internet marketing as a near pure marketing strategy for its products. It therefore should reconsider its attitude towards mass marketing.
Social Media Objectives
Coca Cola’s entry into the social media is motivated by the fact that majority of their target market currently access the internet almost on a daily basis. The interactivity of these social medias also make them the best sites for the customers to get information about the firm, other than the fixed form of communication offered by mass media. This brand had objectives it wanted achieved by this entry as discussed below.
Coca-cola wanted to create a large community of evangelists. These individuals have used the brand’s product; and were thrilled by it. By creating accessibility through mass media, these individuals can easily share their experience with others. These evangelists can easily direct others who had not used the product before to the brands site.
From this site, others can access their informational needs about the products offered by the brand. The company also wanted to involve customers in their product creation. The social media offers the best way through which the company and the customers can interact in an effort to creating products, which are to the expectations of the market.
Another objective was to increase brand awareness. These social sites offer the best opportunity for a company to create awareness to its new sub-brands. Customers access these sites almost on a daily basis. By reaching out for them through these sites, the brand is able to conquer larger markets at a faster pace.
Dasani, a relatively new sub-brand, can gain awareness in the market by use of social media like You Tube whose membership runs to millions.
Lastly, this brand was motivated by the desire to increase its sales volume. Through the social media, the brands sales volume could be increased by maintaining a positive image with its customers. The company can ensure that the customer is constantly informed about the brand and any misconceptions are ironed out immediately they arise.
The main objective of coca-cola company is to be the preferred market provider of soft drinks in the American and overseas markets. The above-mentioned brand objectives in developing social media strategy align well with this objective as they try to assert the brands presence in the market.
Coca-cola brand is already known in the market. It therefore requires a platform that is efficient and effective. The platform should also be relevant. One platform that will be appropriate in this case will be Facebook. This platform offers a large community through which, this brand can reach the customers. Currently Facebook hosts over 4 million users across the world (Treadaway, 2010).
By introducing this brand as a community member, we are able to conquer the market that is already consuming this social media. Most of those accessing this site do it to communicate with friends for pleasure. Coca Cola’s brand should therefore be positioned as a product for pleasure so that it fits in this context.
With the company’s profile in this community, we can send and receive custom-made communications from Coca Cola’s ‘friends’ across the world.
This strategy enables the customers to be in position to deliver to us a personalized communication about Coca Cola’s brand. The approach creates the sense of belonging among customers. It develops an attachment, as the customer will feel that they are part of the firm, and the brand is their property that should be developed.
This strategy also enables the firm to send direct communications to the members of the community about new developments in the products without their message being regarded as spam.
In this platform, the firm would create a forum where individuals from across the world are free to discuss with the firm about their feelings over the company’s brand offering. They can tell the firm of the adjustments they feel should be made in the products or even the pricing strategy.
Another platform is twitter. Created in March 2006, this social network currently serves over 200 million users. As compared to Facebook, Twitter has received a lesser attention from many of firms seeking social media marketing. This means that it has a vast potential that is untapped.
With the growth projected to be double its current size by the end of 2013, Coca Cola’s brand can make an early entry so that it secures its place and experience growth as it expands. Like Facebook, Twitter has gained acceptance from across the world.
With its features that enable users to send and receive messages via their mobile phones or through twitter websites, twitter has gained fame at a pace that even the technology author, Steven Johnson had not predicted.
It is currently ranked third most visited social media. The brand can develop a niche in this market and position itself as the brand that understands the requirement of its customers. Unlike Twitter, that has majority of its users as youths, older society members’ access twitter.
This brings up an opportunity for the brand to reach out to the market segment that was left out by Facebook. Moreover, the communication in this media can be custom made to attract the aged. We can bring out the refreshing aspect of black current sub-brand, or the healthy mineral water- Dasani.
The other platform that could work for Coca-Cola is the You Tube. This social media is rated second most visited, only after Facebook.
The main aim of developing this strategy is to develop sustainability for Coca Cola’s brand. The customer is the focus and increased sales the company’s main target. For this reason therefore, customers must be actively engaged in order to achieve the most out of this strategy. The main advantage of social media over the conventional mass media is that it facilitates interactivity.
By joining a community like twitter, this brand is open to criticism from customers that will enable it adjust its products appropriately. They can also respond to some criticism that may be misguided by providing the right information to the market. By engaging search engines like Flikr or Google, the firm allows customers to access information about the brand in real time.
This will require that the company provide such engines with as much information as may be necessary so that customers will access them. Coca Cola seeks to create a forum where all stakeholders can easily interact with one another with the aim of fostering interactive community.
Members in this community can only work properly if they are able to communicate freely with each other. Consumers make a very important part of a company. The Coca-cola brand needs to know the requirements in the market in order to fine-tune its products (Jarboe, 2009).
When management assumes this approach, there will be a direct positive relation in the sales volume. According to Klein (2009), customers must be involved in the implementation of key strategies so that the outcome will be acceptable in the market. He argues that customers’ opinion is should be taken care of in order to create harmony in the market.
Challenges and Considerations
The strategy to give marketing an approach from social media was timely and well calculated. The brand has managed to double its market share in countries such as Israel and Comoros Island, regions where sales were not very attractive. However, this has not been without challenges. Some of the major challenges faced in the implementation of this strategy are as follows.
Freedom found in the social media: This factor is a double aged sword. On one end, it helps the brand get first hand information about their feeling towards our product without any editing. On the other end, it allows individuals say anything about the brand, some of which may hurt our sales. A competitor can therefore take advantage of this and spread negative communication about us.
This message will spread so fast that by the time we are able to respond, it would be a little too late. This freedom to communicate to us about their feeling on our brand positioning can also be abused. Coca Cola relies on this communication in order to come up with a marketing strategy that is acceptable in the market.
If this information is misleading- which may be the case- then the company’s actions in the market may be counterproductive. The company’s team must therefore screen the information and eliminate any issues that may mislead the applied marketing team (Andreasen, 2001).
Social media is not all-inclusive: A market segment that is left out which comprises the elderly. This group is not enthusiastic about the wonders brought by technology. Another group not covered by the social media is the rural dwellers, especially in the rural set-up.
They make a substantial portion of the market and for the prosperity of our brand; we cannot afford to assume them. This calls for application of other means like the mass media, which comes at an extra cost (Kurtz, 2008).
Another serious challenge we face by application of this strategy is the fact that many people still regard social media as a preserve for youths who are lazy and use these sites to pass time the easy way. They do not appreciate the potential posed by the social media and therefore any communication made through them draws not, their attention.
They believe that such communication is targeted at such youths and they will therefore assume them. For them, a company like Coca-cola should consider other ‘serious’ means in order to communicate with them. This sends us back to mass media where this market segment can be accessed.
Another challenge with the social media the firm integrated into the marketing strategy was content limitation. These social media have character limitation. Twitter can only accommodate 144 characters, and this means that our messages will be limited to that.
The graphics that are very important in marketing may also be applied as easily as it would be in mass media. This limitation forces the marketing department to look for alternative means so that the right message reaches the market.
Hackers pose another serious challenge. They can access our wall in these social media and post information that damages our public image. The technical team must therefore keep an eye on such possible threats (Thomases, 2010).
This strategy is expected to take a period of three months. Within this time, the strategy should be up and running as part of Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy. The first one and a half month should see the introduction into and successful operation in the Facebook. Being the largest social media and our first choice, the firm will give it the longest period.
Within this period, the firm will create our profile, develop our wall in Facebook, and test the responsiveness of the market. Through this, the firm will be able to adjust as may be necessary. The second platform, twitter will take three weeks and will follow the steps that were used in the first platform, and lastly you tube will come in the last three weeks. Within this timeline, the firm hopes to achieve an effective social media strategy.
Social media has developed over the past few years and this growth is expected to continue for several years to come. With this new development, marketers around the world must redefine their marketing strategy and give a new approach to the manner in which they reach their target market.
This calls for a development of a Social Media Strategy that would enable brands like Coca-cola to tap from the massive potential offered in the social media.
Coca-cola has realized this and developed the strategy discussed in this paper so that it can successfully reach its customers. This strategy allows the marketing department interacts actively with the market so that its approach is customer based.
Through this, the marketing department is able to advice both the production and the quality control departments of what is expected of them so that their products are to the expectations of the market. This way, the brand will experience growth in its market share not just in the American markets but also markets abroad. Social media offers this brand opportunity to remain conspicuous in the market.
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