Coca-Cola Product

free essayThe marketing of a product is an important undertaking that contributes to the success of the product in the market. The process usually requires proper and sound management to lead the marketing process toward the realization of the goals of the organization. Globalization has widened the role and scope of marketing due to the exposure to diverse cultural settings, an increase in ethical considerations, a wider market with greater competition, and dynamic customer tastes and preferences. The contribution of the United States to the global market cannot be underestimated. The United States continues to maintain the leadership position in the global market. The product chosen to be presented in the current paper is Coca-Cola. It has a wide presence in the U.S and foreign markets. This paper explores the broad strategies of market management of the Coca-Cola product. The local and foreign markets of this product are identified with a focus on the four utilities of consumer value and the adoption and position in the two markets. The ethical concerns of the production and sale of the product in the U.S and international market are discussed, including environmental concerns.

Four Utilities of Consumer Value

Utilities of consumer value are the elements that should be present to enable the exchange of a product or service between the business and customers. Utility in its basic form refers to the benefit a client obtains from the exchange of goods or services. Utilities of customer value are classified into utilities of place, form, time, and possession. The four utilities should work synergistically to generate customer satisfaction.

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First, form utility refers to the actual product that a company offers to customers. The form, in this case, is Coca-Cola, which is a non-alcoholic soft drink. The brand is globally recognized and highly cherished by consumers in its worldwide market. John Pemberton first invented the Coca-Cola beverage in 1886 in Columbus. Later in 1992, Asa Griggs bought the business (Hassan, Amos, & Abubakar, 2014). Since that time, the soft drink has grown to become a unique beverage with great taste and registered profound sales. Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink that contains caffeine as the main stimulant. The inventor of the drink aimed at creating the beverage for the medical purposes. However, its use shortly changed to become a widely accepted form of refreshment. Over time, the Coca-Cola Company has developed numerous brands under the Coke brand name in its objective of satisfying dynamic customer needs. The recent brands include Coca-Cola Vanilla, Diet Coke, Caffeine-free Coca-Cola, Diet Coke Caffeine-free, Coca-Cola Cherry, and Coca-Cola Zero (Benard, Oketch, & Matu, 2015). It has also developed special versions containing coffee, lime, and lemon. The unique nature of Coca-Cola has driven it to become one of the most valued brands worldwide.

Concerning place utility, Coca-Cola utilizes the franchised form of production as its marketing strategy. The franchised form involves offering production rights to smaller local entities located in different countries across the world to produce Coca-Cola branded products actively. The entire production is controlled by the parent company that keeps the formula as a closely guarded secret. The parent company then shares the formula with all franchising companies that undertake the bulk production of the products and the delivery to final consumers. This marketing technique has enabled Coca-Cola to spread its market reach to over 200 countries worldwide, making it the largest bottler in the world. The strategy of franchising increases the convenience because it facilitates a faster delivery of the products to the final retailer. Local franchises further contact smallholder vendors to provide localized services to customers and avail the product in all large scale and small retail outlets. Coca-Cola has also developed a website to enhance communication with customers. Interested clients can use the platform to make inquiries about important issues and consult it on the technicality, usability, and benefits of the product.

Furthermore, time utility is essential in enhancing customer satisfaction. Coca-Cola has adopted a comprehensive and holistic marketing system that supports the availability of the product to customers in a timely manner whenever in demand. The company has developed an efficient supply chain that involves contracting independent firms to distribute the products. The system seeks to avail the product to clients more efficiently, effectively, and timely. A large number of distributors and firms registered by the company enables a continuous supply of the product to eliminate the chances of a shortage of the product in the market. The convenient and timely delivery of the product to consumers has created customer loyalty to the company’s products.

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Finally, possession utility is achieved when the customer possesses the goods. Different forms of possession utility range from the complete ownership, which the customer gains after the full purchase of the product, to partial ownership, which results from financial aids that the company offers clients to enhance the affordability of the product and ease of purchase. The form of possession utility adopted by Coca-Cola allows consumers to utilize the product, as well as develop and improve its performance. This strategy significantly attracts customers to the brand. Coca-Cola effectively uses this strategy by offering price discounts to its products at high seasons. Coca-Cola brands have a high-performance component that enables customers to derive maximum satisfaction from consuming the Coca-Cola product. The product’s sweet taste, the refreshing feeling, and the effect of carbonation enhance the high performance.

Target Market

Consumers around the world are potential Coca-Cola customers. In the United States, the company has identified that the population with the greatest preference for the product is youths aged between 15 and 25 years old and adults of up to 40 years (Sofronijevic, 2014). The majority of consumers is older people, especially with the introduction of special brands such as Coca-Cola Zero. The new brands address the health and leisure needs of older people, increasing their consumption among senior adults. In terms of gender, males consume relatively greater quantities of the product as they commonly use it as an accompaniment to alcoholic drinks. In foreign markets such as the African market, females comprise a larger part of the target market because they eat snacks more frequently than males. They consume the Coca-Cola products together with other snacks.

Coca-Cola adopts current trends in economic settings that involve busy schedules, series of meetings at the group and department levels, and mobile generation. The company targets the upper, middle, and lower end youths who engage in fun and entertainment activities. The target group in the United States has a common characteristic of occasional to exclusive exposure to media. This mobile generation is innovation and entertainment loving and spends the time using SMS and MMS services. These characteristics do not entirely apply to the foreign markets since many economies in the global market are not as developed as the United States and, therefore, may not be defined by the same characteristics. Hence, the target market in the foreign markets is extended to include adults, families, and executives.

Competition

Coca-Cola operates in the soft drinks industry that is characterized by stiff competition. A number of companies offer close substitutes for the Coca-Cola products. The company competes in the market with other organizations that sell beverages and non-carbonated drinks in both local and international markets.

Competition in the beverage and soft drinks industry is based on the brand recognition, consumer tastes, product responsiveness to consumer needs, price, advertising, and promotional activities. The Coca-Cola Company competes effectively in the market by constantly introducing new products, implementing new marketing programs, developing its brand and trademark, and using efficient production techniques. Coca-Cola also reduces competition by the utilization of barriers to entry. It has huge investments that attract economies of scale. The company produces at a lower cost per unit, enabling it to reduce prices without decreasing profits. These strategies have created a large number of customers who are loyal to the Coca-Cola products and a large market base, which allowed the company to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors.

The greatest competitor of the Coca-Cola products in the soft drinks industry is Pepsi, a product of the PepsiCo. PepsiCo takes the second position in overall global sales. The two products are the largest competitors. However, there are other numerous smaller competitors of Coca-Cola concentrated in various regions around the world. Examples of smaller regional competitors include Kola Real in Southern and Central America, Breizh Cola in Brittany, Inca Kola in Peru, Tropicola in Cuba, Julmust in Sweden, and China Cola. Furthermore, soft non-carbonated beverages produced and sold in other foreign countries, such as African states and India, also lead to significant regional competition since they appeal to the local tastes and address the particular health needs of the small populations. To deal with the competition, Coca-Cola engages in the acquisition of most of its rival companies. An example is the acquisition of Thums Up (Yu, 2015). The strategy enables Coca-Cola to increase its market share in local and foreign economies. Though Coca-Cola faces stiff competition, its products remain the preference of most consumers.

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Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning Approach

Segmentation is the process of decomposing a market into groups of potential consumers who exhibit a similar purchasing behavior and have similar characteristics and needs. Market segmentation provides a company an analysis of the market and adds a deeper understanding of the company’s customers. A company with such an understanding can easily identify existing opportunities and develop a competitive edge over its rivals.

As a marketing manager at Coca-Cola, I would segment the market based on four criteria. The first criterion I would employ is geographic segmentation. This segmentation criterion would be highly significant in new and foreign markets. In a foreign market such as Africa, I would create various divisions to serve the continent’s major regions. The divisions would be assigned a person who would report to the parent company. Moreover, the divisions would be provided with a great deal of autonomy to run the operations.

The second criterion I would use is the segmentation of the market in terms of place of consumption. Research carried out on the consumption patterns of the Coca-Cola products indicates that most consumption takes place in social places. The specific places include restaurants, cinemas, railway stations, and family gatherings. I would seek to identify these social places in different regions and strike an agreement to establish a distribution center in these places.

The third criterion of the segmentation I would use is the segmentation based on the product type. The Coca-Cola Company keeps developing special brands under the Coke brand. I would market different special brands according to the customer needs they address. For example, I would promote the Diet Cola to address health concerns. Furthermore, I would customize the advertisement of all special brands.

Lastly, I would segment the market according to demographics. I would seek to develop and market various brands targeting different groups of age, social class, and income. I would modify the products to target different demographics by using simple strategies such as packaging.

The segments of foreign markets can be targeted using different ads. The primary target group that this method would consider is the younger generation that has a high exposure to media and involves in merry-making and entertainment. Other brands of Coca-Cola like Diet Cola would target people with special needs, including older people, diabetics, and patients suffering from a high blood pressure. I would give the Coca-Cola products a positioning of a fast thirst-quenching and highly refreshing product. I would position the products as a source of joy and excitement. I would also associate the product with merry-making, leisure enjoyment, and joyful moments with friends and family. Finally, I would market the product as consistently unique and of a high quality.

Environmental Facts and Trends

The activities of multinational corporations and local industries continue to have adverse effects on the environment. The effects are manifested in the escalating global warming issues and other types of environmental poisoning. Many governments have responded to these concerns by introducing policies that discourage environmentally unfriendly operations and the use of harmful components in the manufacture of consumables. For example, the use of pesticides has greatly attracted criticism with regards to the Coca-Cola products. It is alleged that the Coca-Cola Company produces Coke using water containing a significant amount of unhealthy pesticides and other harmful chemicals. It is feared that aerated waters used in the production of the Coca-Cola products contain toxins such as chlorpyrifos, DDT, and lindane, which potentially cause cancer and immune failure (Hassan et al., 2014).

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The second issue is the government regulations requiring the use of biodegradable packaging materials. Coca-Cola mainly uses glasses and non-biodegradable plastic containers. If this trend continues, Coca-Cola might violate government regulations. The production of the Coca-Cola products presupposes large amounts of water. The production in a foreign market may deplete the water table of the areas where manufacturing plants are established. Government regulations of water conservation and preservation in some foreign governments may pose challenges to the establishment of manufacturing plants. Lastly, the Coca-Cola franchising companies channel industrial effluents to other natural resources, thus polluting the environment. Growing economies may curtail the establishment of these manufacturing facilities, citing pollution.

Four P’s of Marketing

The first aspect on which the company’s marketing strategy focuses is the development of a unique product that meets the consumer’s needs. Coke, which is a Coca-Cola signature product, has gained a wide acceptance among many consumers as a refreshing and thirst-quenching soft drink. The main target market of Coca-Cola is young people. The majority of this customer segment depends on their parents. Therefore, the product should be sold at an affordable price to enable an increase in sales in this abundant market. The company should make efforts to succinctly identify and define the place where the targeted consumers would buy the product. The delivery of the product should consider the unique characteristics or each market segment. The company should outline a clear and timely distribution channel for the product. The company should also engage in more promotion activities to create awareness and increase demand for the product. Promotions could be intensified through the Internet platforms, TVs, boards, and print media (Yuvaraju, Subramanyam, & Rao, 2014). Finally, the company can evaluate the successful implementation of the marketing mix by the market penetration of each product and the level of customer satisfaction.

Ethical Marketing Considerations

The compliance to ethical practices is extremely important for the success of a company in the United States and other nations. The basic ethical practices in the United States include labor rights, good relations with the surrounding community, and environmental conservation responsibility. Companies manifest their goodwill to the community through corporate social responsibility (CSR). Companies have used various forms of CSR to build their images and improve relations with the community. The United States has set specific and constituted autonomous organizations that monitor the compliance to ethical practices such as labor rights. These institutions engage in negotiations with corporations to improve working conditions of employees. The most serious unethical practice in the international market is the mistreatment of labor. The governments are actively involved in drafting labor laws and creating regulatory bodies to prosecute companies that perpetrate the malpractice (Hassan et al., 2014). Environmental conservation is another ethical issue that has attracted attention in the contemporary business world. Most economies have enacted stringent policies to ensure that companies uphold environmentally friendly practices. Such measures include the revocation of operating licenses.

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Conclusion

Coca-Cola is a high performing and unique product that has a wide market penetration in the local and foreign markets. Its main target group is the youth with entertainment and merry-making needs. Though the product faces stiff competition in the local and foreign markets, it uses its exceptional innovative abilities and the implementation of its marketing mix to outperform the competitors. However, Coca-Cola should observe ethical considerations such as labor rights, environmental conservation, and community relations to increase the product acceptance, as well as ensure uninterrupted operations and sustainable product marketing.