Tag Archives: consumer habits
Promotional advertising is a pivotal part of a consumer good product’s go to market strategy. In recent years, digital media has acquired a larger share of those budgets. Pepsi and Coca-Cola have both stepped up their online efforts to include social media.The way in which each brand integrates social media efforts with promotional advertising and public relations say a lot about the personality of the company and its culture.The Pepsi challengeOf the two giant beverage brands,
Pepsi is the one that seems to have had the greater identity transformation, although, seen side by side, they seem to have borrowed significantly from each other. Pepsi’s logo is perceived to have changed more dramatically over the years. Thanks to brand new, you can see how the earlier chart that was making the rounds spoke to perception.Pepsi’s greatest challenge turns out to be the recent decision to divert promotional advertising budgets to a grant that each Pepsi and Coke logo evolutionmonth funds ideas. The refreshing everything project has predictably attracted much commentary in social media. The way it works is you can submit an idea that will have a positive impact, or vote for one. The blog associated with the project refreshes the news aspect and is created with the intent to personalize it and build community.The online community had mixed reviews about the project. From early cautions about the program being a gamble upon its announcement, to posts that praised the action and those that marveled at the program being seen as an alternative rather than an adjunct to their Super Bowl ad campaign. Consumer habits are changing, and social media has earned its place in the mix. Can it stand on its own without the help of promotional advertising?Is this new format shifting the responsibility from the corporation to the individual consumer? We do need to think more strategically about our resources, and so do brands. Will the social media halo extend to sales? This is the most important question for a product company to ask itself.Has Pepsi won by avoiding the Super Bowl? It has been getting a lot of media coverage thanks to the PR value of its move. While fragmented branding is the 21st century reality, many are starting to raise the question of whether these philanthropic gestures are artificial sweeteners. Corporate social philanthropy needs to be authentic to the core of the company, and contest fatigue is starting to set it. Did Pepsi miss an opportunity to drive more traffic to its initiative, or to drive more sales?
As expected, given the lack of must see TV support in the guise of a Super Bowl ad, the initiative has also garnered the attention of mainstream media. The days when mass-market media was the sole vehicle to reach an audience may be officially over. How could we start reconciling again the purely entertainment value of some forms of promotion, with the potential of sustainable programs grounded in social?Coke changes formulaNo reason to panic. The only one change they made to their formula is potentially one of perception – from medicinal beverage to recreational drink. While rumors that the company used to put real coke in it seem to be still holding true, the quantity we’re talking about seems to be still quite small to make a big fuss over it 125 years later.In the promotions department, coke’s Super Bowl spot contained charitable elements and was tied to a social media campaign that pledged $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of America. The company’s biggest buzz so far, in addition to its popular Facebook page, is its new social media policy. Keep in mind that this is for 1 million associates in 206 countries. It’s a feat of simplicity.Coca Cola’s new online social media principles define three hierarchical levels of responsibility for its workforce: designated subject matter experts; social media certified spokespersons; and everyone else. Those not certified as spokespersons may not speak on behalf of the company. Certified spokespeople may speak in the company’s name but must refer difficult situations to subject matter experts. The principles apply to all employees but only appear to provide complete guidance to non-certified employees.Coca-cola integrates many social media outposts and searches on its site. The most remarkable aspect of what the company is doing though is not on the communication end of things — it is on the product redesign side. I was at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta last fall and had the opportunity to meet David Butler, the man who is redesigning Coke. If branding is fragmented in this new reality, companies can and must create a central apparatus that is once specific and flexible, one that can apply all over the world keeping its focus on customers.Butler did just that at Coke by helping the company understand design on purpose — to create value for the business through design and drive sales. Before it can communicate to the world, a brand needs to be aligned internally, work as a system, think about longevity, and cut through the visual clutter with identities that express its core essence. Coke is focusing more on how the product is delivered, packaged and experienced across the globe. Including how the company’s associates talk about the brand in social networks. Has the company bought into the incomplete manifesto for growth?The company is also focusing more on the customer with its happiness theme. Neither Atlanta-based interactive agency Definition 6 nor Coca-Cola pushed the production with a publicity campaign. They let the brand’s considerable fan base find the video and share it on their own. I don’t drink soda, yet this video gave me the goose bumps! 1.5MM people had the same experience and shared it with their friends.Distribution networksIf the whole organization is a system, its distribution networks need to be part of that system.Coca-cola makes the introductions to more than 300 bottling partners on its Web site. Pepsi Bottling Group is one network.Distribution for brands today means a lot more. It means how the brand is passed on from mouth to mouth through stories, testimonials, humor, fun, like in the Coca-cola YouTube ad we watched a moment ago.Market shareThis is where the rubber meats the road. The market capitalizations of these companies at close of business on Friday February 26, 2010 was:The Coca Cola Company- $121.41BNPepsico, Inc.- $97.77BNWhile Coca-Cola’s market share has been slipping, it still holds a significant advantage. In recent years, foreign sales have been lifting the company during recession.Informal research in social networksI posed the question on Twitter and FriendFeed on a late evening recently. I got several responses from people. Specifically, 9 unique responses on Twitter, 31 on FriendFeed, and 0 on Facebook. The number of votes is not proportional to the number of followers for those accounts.
It maps more to how people engage in each network, which is a lesson that should not be lost on you.The question was simple “Which one do you prefer? Why?”I just used the image you see in this post as the visual, without even naming the products. Who won? 25 Coke, 4 either one, 5 neither, 6 Pepsi. Remember that it was a moment in extremely active streams with people doing and sharing all sorts of other things, including winter Olympics news. Just as if you dropped a question in any social space.You will push back that it’s not scientific and there isn’t enough data to be statistically significant. That may be correct. Qualitative research is important, though, and in a Web 2.0 world there are fun ways to conduct informal, qualitative sampling. Not just by counting the numbers. What does the commentary add? Context.Remember that I did not skew the question in any way and that Pepsi just ran a massively talked-about social media campaign — talked about in the same space where I asked the question. Pepsi launched and maintains a “room” with 615 subscribers on FirendFeed, which is where I got the most votes for Coke.Tone, preference, and commentary — like Coke is less sweet, it has a richer taste, etc. — were offered for Coke, with Diet Coke winning the greater share of commentary. To note that among those mentioning Pepsi, the new “Pepsi has brought back real sugar in their Retro packaging” was mentioned.Who won? Look at the market capitalization and the social integration for each brand. Then consider customer preference. The winning brand is the one that stays truer to itself.