Coca Cola is one of the largest companies in the world today and is the leading company in the soft drinks industry worldwide.

It is estimated that Coca cola products are sold at a rate of more than 1 billion servings each day in over 200 countries.

Coca Cola was founded in 1886 by Dr. John Stith Pemberton, but was later taken over by Asa Candler after Pemberton’s death in 1888, after battling with long term illness.

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The original Coca Cola flowing script logo was created by Pemberton’s bookkeeper and it was he who suggested the name.

As Coca Cola aim to conquer the estimated $30 billion U.S. cola market, it is essential that every aspect of their business operations from production, pricing, promotion through to distribution is immaculate.

This point is reinforced by a quote from the Chairman of board of directors, Douglas N. Daft, in which he says “fundamentally, the Coca Cola company is built on a deep and abiding relationship of trust between it and all its constituents: bottlers, customers, consumers, shareowners, employees, suppliers and the very community of which successful companies are an integral part. That trust must be nurtured and maintained on a daily basis”.

The quote is very representative of the way coca cola operates. As it is a very old and well established company a vast majority of its large market share is due to brand loyalty, which it has built up through years of trading with consumers building a very profitable and reliable relationship.

Main Body

The coca cola company first invaded the United Kingdom with its product in 1900 when Asa Candler’s son, Charles brought a jug of coca cola syrup to England while on vacation here. By the late 30’s there were more than 6 bottling plants, bottling the product across the U.K. and in the early 60’s the product had diversified into the canned market.

The success of the company is not just put down to the distinctive and original taste, but to the hard and innovative work of the marketing department employed at coca cola over the years.

This has been and important factor on coca cola creating and maintaining their large market share in the U.K, and also helping them grow in new untapped markets.

Innovative advertising campaigns are vital to maintaining market share and growing in new markets. Coca cola has had many memorable ad campaigns (Christmas specials) over its illustrious history, with many of its slogans becoming house hold phrases e.g. “Always Coca Cola” is one of the most famous advertising slogans to date. This is a key factor as it makes Coca Cola products the first in mind when thinking in relation to such products.

Marketing plays a huge role in a company attaining its objectives and reaching its aims. This is why it is vital to the company that this part of their operation is as successful as its product itself, if no one knows about a product then it is hard to reach your intended audience. The term marketing has a very simple but affective definition. Marketing is a tool used by companies to create value in the consumers mind.

When looking at the market structure of a specific product it is important to look at certain aspects such as the Four P’s: Price, Product, Place, and Promotion. Product lifecycle is also an important factor, this is a concept that has been used many times to explain and predict the sales pattern of products through time. There are stages through which a product passes from its initial introduction into the market up until its withdrawal.

Price, product, place and promotion are the key stages within a businesses operation.

Pricing strategy is an integral part in a companies long term objectives. In order for Coca Cola to survive and prosper it is vital that they choose the right strategy where value for money and profitability are balanced. As Coca Cola is a huge organisation in which it operates a franchising system which supplies to over 1200 bottling operations world wide it is able to keep manufacturing costs down, thus increasing profitability.

Although Coca Cola is the most famous and the most popular soft drinks supplier it is still one of the cheapest with the average price of a can costing just 37p, this price is enabled due to the company’s sustained approach to low cost production giving the consumer on going value for money.

With Coca Cola’s increasing dominance in the world market, their International operations generated revenue of $14.4 billion, taking their operating income from outside the U.S. to 80% of their total income in 2002.

The product itself and the image surrounding it play a vital role in its success. The design of Coca cola soft drinks has hardly changed in its history, from their logo to the authentic contour glass bottle. These individual characteristics give coca cola a strong brand image with brand loyalty a key result of this.

Although Coca cola is still their main and best selling drink, every product has stages in which it varies from introduction, growth, maturity through to decline. This is called the product lifecycle.

In order for a company to continuously prosper it is important for it to analyse the product lifecycle of certain products and if needed re generate its image or introduce similar products to refresh the market.

Coca Cola has done this to great effect in recent years with the introduction of the Diet Coke product in 1988, which is now the number two soft drink sold in Great Britain today. It has also introduced similar products such as Vanilla, Lemon and caffeine free flavoured coke.

This has enabled coca cola to offer a wide range of soft drinks to suit different tastes but has also helped to revitalise its existing products.

When a product is in maturity stage as is the case with Coca Cola and now Diet Coke, the product is well established and competition is usually high(Pepsi), profit and sales are also high and promotion of the product is very intense as companies strive to increase popularity of its products.

A key factor in Coca Cola’s success is its power in the industry. Although it has major competitors such as Pepsi and Virgin Cola, it owns the vast majority of soft drink selection. The company owns Schweppes, Oasis, 5 alive, Kea Oar, Fanta, Lilt, Dr Pepper, sprite and the sports drink Powerade. This is good for the company but reduces the buying power of the consumers as there is less choice, creating greater selling power to Coca Cola.

In 2002, the products of Coca Cola Great Britain accounted for nearly 45.8% of all soft drinks sold in the U.K.

Place is just as important as the previous as it is vitally important that Coca Cola has its product available at the right time, the right place and in the right condition. As is the size of the company its distribution levels are massive, it supplies to Retailers (from large supermarkets to corner shops, petrol stations, corner shops, off licences etc), Secondary schools (its company policy not to promote soft drinks to children under the age of 11, for nutritional reasons), colleges, hospitals, clubs, restaurants, cafes and cinemas. Practically every shop that offers soft drinks will have coca cola on sale. This is the company aim, “within an arm’s reach of desire”, this simply translates into the company aiming to provide any one with its product should it be desired any where in the world.

Coca Cola has massive supplying power when it comes to the distribution of its products as it is so widespread it can control the cost due to the demand for the product. In 2002 Coca Cola Enterprises produced 3 billion litres of soft drink.

Promotion is a key stage in a businesses operation as it is a company’s link between product and consumer. How the product is promoted and advertised ultimately determines the success of the product.

With Coca Cola this is no different. Coca Cola has produced some of the most memorable adverts to date such as the Christmas specials featuring the polar bears and Santa Claus. It is aspects such as these that help coca cola stand out from the rest. It is estimated that the coca cola trademark has a 94% global recognition; this is down to lots of innovative and sustained promotion of its product. Coca cola has advertisements everywhere, billboards, newspapers, internet, magazines and T.V. being the biggest source of advertising.

Coca Cola has a state of the art advertisement on the famous Piccadilly billboards, which plans are now in place to increase the size of the sign by more than half.

The key to making a success of this is the marketing mix. This is the way in which you mix price, product, place and promotion. It has a universal strategy in place which comprises of three factors: acceptability, affordability and availability.

SWOT Analysis plays a major role in a company reaching its objectives. When applied in the market structure this helps a company identify its strengths and weaknesses (internal) and its opportunities and threats (external).

Coca Cola has many strengths, it has a strong brand loyalty built up through years of trading, low cost production through mass production, large market share through product variation (Diet Coke, Lilt, Fanta etc).

It does however still have weaknesses which can affect its long term stability, the company states that although one billion servings of ‘Coca cola’ are consumed each day, there are still 47 billion servings of other beverages untapped. Although this is seen as a weakness and a situation in need of improvement by Coca Cola it can also be seen as a opportunity.

There are opportunities open to Coca Cola everyday, new developing countries are always a big opportunity for coca cola to supply its product to and flood the market with its soft drinks. New opportunities can arise from creating new ways to promote their products i.e. by sponsoring major events such as sporting events.

The long term prosperity and stability of Coca Cola can come under threat from external influences such as competitors challenging for market share but also from pressure groups. Coca Cola has had a history of law suits against it for its part or suspected part in certain events and crimes. Such events can pose a serious threat to the company itself and its image in general.

Conclusion

For the company to continue its growth and domination in the soft drinks industry it is vital that these key elements work in harmony. Each is as important as the next in accomplishing the company’s aims. The work of the marketing team at coca cola is to inform and manipulate the consumer into buying and becoming brand loyal to coca cola. If we the consumer think we are buying the best then it gives us a sense of satisfaction and a feeling of esteem knowing we have bought something with stature. Marketing is just a tool that company’s use to do this, in order to create a link between them and the consumer.

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