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“Follow the consumer”: Coca-Cola’s marketing lead on what makes a successful partnership

“Follow the consumer”: Coca-Cola’s marketing lead on what makes a successful partnership

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A "Jack and Coke" is one of the most recognisable bar calls globally, according to Matthias Blume, marketing VP for ASEAN and South Pacific at The Coca-Cola Company who was speaking to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE ahead of the launch of its new alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage in Singapore this week. 

With consumers globally asking for the drink, Blume shared that the beverage company's strategy with the drink was to simply follow the consumer.

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“We are always trying to be in tune with what the consumer wants, to look for consumer opportunities, and really strive to put them at the heart of everything that we do,” he said.

Additionally, being well-known brands, the roll-out was met with immediate consumer interest without the need to explain a new product or brand to consumers. “It drives the interest from day one,” he said, adding:

People order a Jack and Coke, not Jack and cola.

This plays into the company’s vision of contemporarising the 137-year-old brand by tapping into current cultures and trends to constantly refresh it.

This approach seems particularly important in light of several marketing trends that Blume outlined. For one, he highlighted that the approaches to selling and connecting with consumers have changed drastically.

“We used to rely on intermediaries to reach the consumer, from experience to transaction,” he said.

Citing live streaming as an example, he shared that modern technologies and platforms have opened up new opportunities to connect with consumers differently, from drumming up excitement to immediately giving them opportunities to purchase and try products.

Looking towards 2024

When asked about The Coca-Cola Company’s direction in the coming year, Blume shared that collaboration would be a strong priority, while keeping consumers top of mind. To promote the success of Jack and Coke, he cited a range of plans, including influencer partnerships and linking up with key physical and online retailers. Blume also hinted at possible roll-outs in other parts of the Asian region in the near future.

“We are also looking at activations and partnerships with a number of bars to make it available as a ready-to-drink,” he added. This would also offer a more convenient solution for bartenders, as mixing the drink can be a bit of a hit or miss when left to human hands, according to Blume. 

On the topic of the human touch, Blume also touched on the role of artificial intelligence in the company’s marketing strategies.

“It’s an interesting tipping point for AI with the emergence of generative AI, as it takes it out of the niche that has been existing in the background for the last couple of years,” he said.

In his view, AI is now something that consumers understand, with the average person seeing the immediate value the technology brings and knowing what to do with it.

"AI allows our brands to be closer to consumer behaviour, and enables them to play."

He explained that consumers now have a chance to interact with brands, as opposed to marketers solely dictating the narrative. Chatbots and conversational marketing could also enable the brand to better engage consumers in two-way conversations.

With that said, Blume also expressed the view that AI is not yet at the moment where it can fully lead a campaign despite fast-tracking many work processes.

“It’s an added build, a way to engage with consumers in a very different way that hasn’t been possible historically,” he explained.

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Pizza Hut MY and Coca Cola partner to launch whacky new pizza flavours

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