Marketing of products and services is an imperative aspect in the success of any organization. It is a process that requires the management of an organization ensuring that it has a vigorous marketing department that will enable the realization of organizational objectives. The discipline has become even more demanding as the business world has become more dynamic especially with the increasing rate of globalization. Marketing managers are expected to be more proactive to ensure that their respective firms remain more competitive and profitable throughout. Increased globalization has brought about several issues such as open competition, cross-cutting cultural and ethical considerations as well as the ever-changing consumer tastes and preferences. For instance, United States has been an active force in global marketing and offers an ideal position for analysis of international marketing. For several years, United States has been in the forefront in matters of export and imports. For example, the sale of beverages and carbonated drinks is an active industry that serves both the local and international market (Rendtorff, 2009). Coca-cola is a leading manufacturer and distributor of soft drinks in US and other parts of the world.
In this chapter, I will assume the role of marketing manager at Coca-Cola Company and discuss at length marketing management strategies at the organization. The analysis will be concerned with both local and international sales of the products. Essential marketing aspects such as positioning, target market, ethical considerations and the 4 Ps will be among the critical areas of concern in this paper.
Four utilities of consumer value
Utilities of consumer value also popularly referred to as the business marketing utilities are defined as the elements that necessitate the purchase of products and services. In essence, it refers to those elements that create the relationship between the product/service providers and their customers. In an economic perspective, the term ‘utility’ refers to the economic benefits that customers derive from consumption of certain product or service. In essence, customers’ decision making is based on their urge to satisfy their wants. This is realized by having the product in the right form, place, time, and possession.
All these utilities guarantee customer satisfaction. To start with, the form is an essential utility of customer value. It refers to the actual product as consumed by customers to satisfy their wants. For instance, coca cola distributes soft drinks that are enjoyed by many customers around the world. The company establishment dates back to 1886 by John S. Pemberton in Columbus. However, the company was sold to Asa Griggs in 1892 and has been selling carbonated drinks in all parts of the world all through (Collier, 2014). The products were initially sold for medicinal value but after Griggs takeover, the products were universally accepted as refreshment drinks. Over the years, coca cola has developed several other brands such as diet coke, caffeine free coca cola, coca cola cherry, coca cola vanilla and coke zero among others all of which are under the Coke brand name. Over these years, Coke products have maintained a unique nature that has made it appealing to consumers all over the world.
Secondly, the place is another utility of customer value. Customer satisfaction can never be realized if at all the products are not found in the right place. Being a globally recognized brand, the marketing department at the company has adopted franchised form of production which involves leasing out rights to smaller local entities in different parts of the world. Although production is controlled by the parent company in the US, the local entities play a significant role in ensuring that the products are readily available in the right place (Ferrell & Hartline, 2011). It is, however, worth understanding that the formula of production is a top secret that the company has managed to conceal over the years. This marketing strategy has enabled the company to capture over 200 countries globally enjoying the largest bottler in China and USA. This franchised production has increased convenience with which customers can get the product. To further increase efficiency, the local entities are also encouraged to contract small vendors who distribute the products to retailers and other outlets. The online platform has also been established where customers are free to make orders and ask pertinent questions regarding Coke brands.
The third utility of customer value is the time that is also critical to ensuring customer satisfaction. As an aforementioned, coca cola has adopted a holistic and comprehensive marketing strategy that ensures that products are at the right place and at the right time. Efficiency, effectiveness, and timeliness remains critical aspects within which the company’s supply chain must act upon. To ensure that the utility of time is not compromised, the company ensures all the suppliers in the supply chain work for 24 hours a day for seven days of the week.
The utility of possession is the last utility of customer value. This refers to a stage whereby the gain ownership of the product and can consequently derive benefits from its consumption. Possession utility is of different forms. For instance, it can be complete ownership or partial ownership depending on the terms of payments used. It is, however, critical noting that Coke products are cheap and thus no financial aids required purchasing these products. This implies consumers can get complete ownership immediately one purchases these products. Complete ownership means that the customer has an opportunity to gain benefits from the acquisition of Coke products.
Home and Foreign Target Market
Since the company’s products are universally accepted in all parts of the world, the company’s marketing department has over the years considered every consumer all over the world as a target and potential consumer. For instance in the home country, the company has established that its products are very popular especially among the youths aged between 15 and 25 years. It has also noted that adults below the age of 40 years are also conversant with these products. The older community has been noted as the least consumers of the Coke products, but production of special brands such as Coke Zero has seen a rise in consumption of the older society. The males have been noted as the being more consumers of coca cola products as compared to their female counterparts. This increase in male consumption can be attributed to the fact that most males use coca cola products as accompaniment in alcoholic drinks. It is, however; wise to note that in foreign markets like Africa, females are a better target of the product since they are viewed as being more sensitive and responsive to snacks than their male counterparts.
The marketing department at the company utilizes the emerging trends in economic settings. With this in mind, the company has embraced the media to get to as many people as possible who have access to the media. The young people have become addicted to their electronic gadgets and spend most of their times using SMS, MMS and other online sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Coca-cola is aware that young people love merry making and entertainment and thus making them a better target for their products (Rendtorff, 2009). It is nevertheless imperative to understand that this is not always the case especially in developing countries. Under such circumstances, the company targets executives and adults who have access to these privileges.
Competition is a major threat to the success of any organization. Over the years, coca cola products have been faced with stiff competition from different products both at local and international level. Nevertheless, the company has adequately dealt with this competition and remains the largest bottler in market share globally. The principal competition comes from Pepsi, which is a product of PepsiCo that also offers a broad range of soft carbonated drinks in most pts of the world. Coca-cola products are the best performing overall, but there are some markets where Pepsi takes a leading position.
Additionally, RC Cola, a product of Snapple Group, is another source of international competition. The company has also been actively involved in production and sale of carbonated soft drinks. Besides these globally recognized companies, coca cola also face competition from other smaller companies such as Corsica Cola in French island of Corsica, Inca Kola in Peru, Kola Real in Central and South America, Tropicola in Cuba, china cola and Julmust in Sweden among others (Collier, 2014). Developing countries in Africa and India have also experienced increased industrialization where there has been the emergence of local carbonated soft drink manufacturer. These manufacturers have offered equally stiff competition to Coca cola as some of their products are believed to have substantial health benefits. Despite the stiff competition faced by Coca-Cola, it has remained steadfast and unique in the market and is still preferred by many consumers.
Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP)
STP is an important aspect of the marketing strategy of any organization. To start with, segmentation is a process by which potential buyers are classified into different groups with distinct needs and or characteristics. Market segmentation involves extensive analysis of the market that enables a comprehensive understanding of the market. This analysis helps determine possible existing opportunities and hence developing a competitive edge over the competitors. As the marketing manager at Coca cola, market segmentation would be based on; geographic segmentation, place of consumption, product type, and demographics. For foreign markets, market segmentation would be based on geographies. Creation of various divisions representing the major continental regions would be a wise step. I would, however, ensure that the different categories would be answerable to the parent company.
The other segmentation would be in terms of the pace of consumption. As a company, we have realized that most consumption of these products happens in restaurants, cinema halls, homes and other social places. Segmentation based on product type would also be another critical aspect in segmentation. This would be an important step since the company has introduced several other brands such as diet coke and coke zero. The last segmentation would involve demographics where essential aspects such as age and income would be primary areas of concern.
After segmentation, the other significant aspect involves target these segments. From the earlier analysis, it is clear that young generation remains the better target for the products. For instance, the introduction of new brands such as diet coke and coke zero are targeted at people with special needs such as diabetic patients and the old.
Positioning remains a critical aspect of an efficient marketing strategy. As a marketing manager at the coca cola company, I would position the product as a refreshing and thirst quenching (Ferrell & Hartline, 2011). The product will be portrayed to bring excitement, jolly mood and joy as depicted in its latest tagline. The product would also be marketed as a high-quality product due to its uniqueness status of the product.
Environmental problems are increasingly becoming a sensitive subject, especially to multinational companies. Coca-Cola Company has also been significantly affected by these matters since it also trades in all parts of the world. Cases of global warming and other environmental hazards have led to the introduction of certain policies that aims at dealing with environmental poisoning. For instance, it is feared that water used in the production of coke has traces of unhealthy pesticides and other harmful chemicals that are a risk to the environment. Other toxins such as DDT, Malathion, chlorpyrifos, and lindane are also eminent in aerated water used in the production of coca cola and are a potential cause of cancer and immune failure (Quatro & Sims, 2008). With increased introduction of regulations and policies to curb environmental pollution might in the future bar the production process at Coca-Cola Company.
The use of disposable containers that do not cause environmental degradation is an emerging issue in environmental concerns. This notion could be detrimental to the organization’s operations in future since some governments may impose bans on the use of disposable containers. Also, water conservation in foreign markets may be a major challenge in target market since the production of these products requires significant amounts of this scarce resource. Industry effluents from the company’s franchising companies are also another source of environmental pollution, and this may greatly hinder the operations of the company in particular target markets.
The 4Ps in marketing
The 4 Ps are important aspects of marketing and include; product, price, place and promotion. Coca-Cola has ensured that it produces a unique and desirable product that offers optimum customer satisfaction. Most of the company’s products are universally accepted as they are deemed to be refreshing and thirst quenching. Coca-cola products are also sold at reasonable prices thus making them affordable especially to the youths who largely depend on parents.
The place where customers get the product is also another critical area in marketing. Marketing department must always ensure that product delivery meet the consumer requirements. Coca-cola has provided succinct distribution channel that ensures that product is at the right place ahead of time. Product promotion is another imperative aspect in the marketing process. This process involves ensuring that potential customers are aware of the existence of the product and benefits resulting from its subsequent use. Coca-cola products have been extensively promoted through TVs, newspapers, the internet and other forms of audio and visual media (Wang, 2015).
Ethical marketing considerations
Ethical practices are becoming increasingly popular especially with increased globalization. Essential ethical issues such as labor rights, environmental concerns, and corporate social responsibility have become part of the modern marketing practice. For instance, CSR has been widely used in modern marketing to portray the organizational goodwill to the community. Although it is an expensive exercise, it is an important and profitable practice in the long run. The US is known to have strict labor laws, and there are also organizations that deal with labor rights (Collier, 2014). These considerations must take center stage in the daily operations of the organization. As earlier discussed, the environmental conservation is another ethical concern that the marketing process must put a lot of emphases.
From the above analysis, it is crystal clear that coca cola products are unique and have potential opportunities both locally and internationally. The primary target market of the product is mainly the youth and is strategically segmented and positioned to meet the customers demand. The marketing department at the company has also looked at the ethical considerations such as environmental concerns and labor rights to ensure fruitful and sustainable marketing of the product (Rendtorff, 2009). To sum it up, the success of the Coca-Cola product is down to highly competent and efficient marketing strategy at the company.
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Ferrell, O., & Hartline, M. (2011). Marketing strategy. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Gupta, S. (2011). MIR talks to Stan Sthanunathan, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Insights, Coca-Cola Company. Gfk Marketing Intelligence Review, 3(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/gfkmir-2014-0056
Quatro, S., & Sims, R. (2008). Executive ethics. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Pub.
Rendtorff, J. (2009). Responsibility, ethics, and legitimacy of corporations. [Frederiksberg, Denmark]: Copenhagen Business School Press.
Wang, M. (2015). Brief Analysis of Sports Marketing Strategy Adopted by Coca Cola Company. Asian Social Science, 11(23). http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ass.v11n23p22
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