Coke Looks to Solve Key Fountain Channel Challenge as Ecommerce Influence Grows.
Program Spans All Nine Global Operating Units, With Local Appeal.
Coca-Cola is partnering with food delivery companies across its nine operating units for a new global meals campaign focusing on Coca-Cola, with a particular emphasis on Coke Zero Sugar. (Editor’s Note: This story is an expanded version of an April 1 BD email news alert.) Launched this month in the US and Canada, the “Magic Weekends” campaign is an offshoot of Coca-Cola’s “Real Magic” global marketing strategy launched last year, company executives told BD in an exclusive interview. Coke’s global operating units, including North America, will host local digital and traditional media marketing programs highlighting the weekend family meal occasion and driving deeper into the growing food delivery trend. Each operating unit will partner with food delivery aggregators, such as DoorDash in the US, for combo meal deals and marketing collaborations. The global program will run for about three months, with some elements remaining “always on,” said Global Coca-Cola Category President Selman Careaga. “It’s one of the
largest ‘Coke and Meals’ activations we’re doing on the year.”
OPPORTUNITY. Coke estimates that the global food delivery market is worth about $300 billion in retail value today. That is expected to grow to $500 billion by 2025, said Coke Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Elaine Bowers Coventry, citing data from Edge by Ascential. The challenge is that beverage incidence rates can be up to three times higher at physical food outlets than with meal delivery. “The consumer is behaving differently, and that’s a net loss for the customer and it’s a net loss for the bottler,” Coventry said. “We can fix both of those things by helping to incentivize the addition of a beverage to the order.” Coventry said Coke’s top-15 global franchise bottlers were brought into the planning nine months ago. “It’s evidence of how we’re engaging with our bottlers early for big scale initiatives, and not necessarily cascading all these things only through national levels.” Coventry said one strength of the meal and beverage combo collaboration with delivery aggregators is that it will benefit both chain and independent customers. “For our customers, it’s going to help drive some transactions and traffic to their restaurants through the aggregator activation,” Coventry said. “It will also help them build their check average, and their profitability.”
COMPLEXITY. BD asked Enliven CEO Tim Harms, who helps restaurants negotiate exclusive pouring rights contracts, for his thoughts on rethinking beverages within the online food delivery sector. “It’s really difficult to compete with the beverages in the fridge,” he said. Making the order process as seamless as possible for the consumer using bundling and suggestive selling is important to increasing beverage incidence within online food delivery. Offering variety that a consumer won’t have at home also is key, he said. Complexity challenges include storage for bottle and can products, the economics of distribution drop sizes, and pricing, he added.
ANALYST TAKE. In a research note following BD’s initial exclusive reporting on Coca-Cola’s efforts earlier this month, Consumer Edge Analyst Brett Cooper said the challenge faced by Coke is “representative of a bigger problem” for the entire industry. “Changing consumer behavior may be leading to lower attachment rates,” he said pointing to both beverages with food and retail impulse buying at a time when immediate consumption occasions away from home move to ecommerce. “These are real long-term issues for the beverage industry that need to be solved or face lost occasions.”
HABIT STICKS. Food delivery aggregators became a lifeline for consumers during the global pandemic. As mobility increases and the pandemic wanes, consumers are still ordering restaurant meals online. “We’re seeing the behavior stick,” Coventry said. “We’re also seeing more restaurants participating in the platforms, and seeing restaurants modify some of their offerings specifically for delivery, and in some cases that’s packaging.” That trend spurred Coke to partner more closely with delivery aggregators like DoorDash. “Obviously, they’ll
get some traffic onto their apps, but it’s also a great experiment of how they can work with brands,” Coventry said. “This is a wonderful example of experimentation with our partners and determining how we can fine tune and continue deepening these partnerships.”
BOTTLE AND CAN. Coventry said restaurants with legacy fountain drink businesses found it challenging during the pandemic to translate that to delivery. Bottles and cans became a solution. “We’re seeing an uptick in immediate consumption beverages in the channel as a result,” she said. “The great thing about adding the Coke to the meal, it improves the profitability for the restaurant, so it’s a win-win.”
DATA. The partnership with aggregators includes collaborating in some cases on consumer insights and data, Coventry said. An analogy would be the data sharing between Coke and retail grocers to drive higher sales for Coke’s products and the retailers’ businesses overall. “It’s about, how do we actually help those restaurateurs who are on the apps improve their profitability?” Coventry said. “It’s going to be pretty cool to see how we can partner on some of the data, to really understand the most effective tactics, as well as their relevant return.”
DETAILS. Marketing platforms for the Magic Weekends campaign, concentrated late in the week and focused on the weekend meal occasion, will include social media, TV, and outdoor advertising. Coke will provide content to food delivery aggregators for use on their platforms. Marketing will promote combos with Coke products, with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar taking center stage, Careaga said. In North America, for example, DoorDash customers for the next five weekends will get $3 off their order of $15 or more if they add a Coke Zero Sugar. Coca- Cola expects between 700 million and 800 million media impressions across the company’s marketing channels in North America. “It just talks about the relevance and the magnitude and the scale of the investment,” he said. “It’s a very important program for the year here in the US.”
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