Coke’s new consumer campaign is unique in CSD market’

Business environment is tough and competition is fierce in every segment of the market. It is only those companies that are consumer centric at this time that would survive the storm. John Ajayi, publisher of MarketingEdge Magazine and marketing consultant in this interview with DANIEL OBI singled out Share-A-Coke campaign by Coca Cola as an innovative marketing strategy that has bonded well with consumers. Excerpt:


John Ajayi, Publisher of MarketingEdge Magazine

When you take a look of branding efforts by organisations, what do you see?

Looking at Nigeria’s marketing environment, one can say with equanimity that branding efforts by most organisations are not yet it for now. In this area, I want to categorise businesses in Nigeria into two – the indigenous and multinational businesses.

For the multinationals, one can say they are trying as they are marketing driven. They have supported their businesses with good branding efforts. But when you look at indigenous businesses in Nigeria, they are still doing more of trading. They don’t believe in branding efforts. They don’t believe in getting to the consumer and creating identity for their products.  Most Nigerian indigenous brands are still operating at the periphery of product marketing.

Why do you think they are still within that periphery?

It is a challenge of perception. How do they see marketing and branding? Do they see it as a waste of resources or an opportunity to ambush the consumer out there by creating products?

Unfortunately, some of the products remain ‘me-too’ when there is no clear cut identity for them in the market place. But for multinationals, when they develop their products, they make every effort to create a niche area for it and create identity for it.

They also make the brand to represent something before the consumers. This goes a long way to drive profitability and market success for the brands. Local businesses are still in a state of indecision of really driving their business with genuine marketing efforts.

How does marketing strategy help branding?

This will occur if all the marketing plans and activities are in sync. At the end of the day, what you achieve as a company matters. You have a product and corporate brand and the ultimate motive is to satisfy an identified need in a particular market and it was because of that the product was created. That product must have offering such as value, excellence and promise.

The totality of the efforts including packaging and other marketing ‘Ps’ are a key in terms of marketing strategy. And when you want to do your branding, all these elements must be in sync so that at the end of the day you have a brand.

You see how Cowbell introduced its products and called it ‘Cowbell our milk’.  They came with sachets that resonate with people. Not only that, the brand was also visible to consumers. Promasidor was able to perfect its marketing strategy with branding efforts.

Could you name other brands that perfected marketing and branding strategies?

Another one is Orijin bitter drink from the stable of Guinness. The coming of Orijin into the Nigerian market is something that is great. Before them, we had different variants of bitters and some of them were poorly branded. And some of them did not have credible and authentic connection with majority of bitter consumers.

But the brand owners of Orijin conducted research to identity the brand need of the consumer to create a product. In marketing, a brand can choose marketing strategy good for it either below the line or above the line. As a marketing person, you must be able to identify the element in the mix that would work well for your brand promotion.

Looking at the CSD, how do you assess their campaigns and which one stands out?

In all honesty, in this sector there is no other brand that comes up first before Coke. The history of Coke is interesting because Coke was a major brand that remained in the consciousness of the consumers during the World War. At that time, other brands were not advertising but Coke kept on advertising.

Till tomorrow, Coke has been a leading brand globally. According to Interbrand rating, Coke remained number one not that it is the most profitable, but because of top of the mind awareness creation. Though in Nigeria, there have been some lull in its marketing efforts, but only recently it came again more radically and more creatively in such a way that it has a bonding relationship with consumer.

I am talking about their Share-A-Coke campaign. You now see different names on the Coke. The significance of this is that the average consumer will be appreciative of the innovation. You can now see a brand that seeks to parade your name as consumer sees it as customisation. This makes the consumer more affectionate to the brand.

Do you see this innovative campaign being copied in the market?

You cannot foreclose such adaptation by others because there are copy cats in every market.  But anybody within the CSD market that does it will be seen as lacking in originality and will be indirectly de-marketing its own brand. But other sectors can borrow from it if it fits their marketing strategy. Marketing is about creativity.

In your thinking, how would personalisation as form of marketing aid businesses in Nigeria?

It is good if other sectors believe in it and see it as a necessary strategy that would help them out in achieving their marketing and corporate objectives. It will help the consumer to associate directly with the product. It makes businesses to be seen to be consumer-centric. If you are consumer-centric, there is tendency for you to be a success because the consumer will be the focal point of your strategy, policy and efforts.

So what is your perception of the Share-a-Coke Campaign?

As I said earlier, it is a good initiative and creative and ingenious campaign. Coke has been noted for marketing ingenuity and has also come up with this concept. I can get the names of friends expected at my function and customise Coke drinks for them. It makes parties to be stylish.

Businesses are complaining about the difficult environment; what other strategies would you recommend to CMOs at this time?

It depends on type of business. But what I will advocate is that every business that must survive the heat must always prioritise the consumer. The consumer should be at the centre of any company’s initiative. Gone are the days of the sellers’ market, we are now in the buyers’ market. Now consumers have choices and you must catch them with good products, price.

Called from businessday Newspaper


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