The project aims to decipher how effectively Coca Cola Company has leveraged consumer behaviour in India. We have considered the challenges that India poses for the marketing of globally produced FMCGs (fast moving consumer goods) followed by observation of how the marketing of Coca Cola has been tailored for the Indian context and on its relative successes. Cultural Factors:
Culture is the fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and behaviour (Philip Kotler). India has always been known for its cultural diversity. With a variety of cultures in India, Coca Cola faced a challenge in how to target across the cultural lines. Initially, they made the mistake of focusing on the American way of life but they realized their mistake quickly and started researching the Indian market in detail. They found that the 3A’s of availability, affordability and acceptability needed to be employed. Also, affordability was the biggest driver for desirability. Culture:
Coca Cola discovered that the values of kinship and togetherness were universal across all cultures in India. So they decided to market coke as a drink for family get-togethers and parties. To achieve this, Coca Cola came up with a marketing campaign that showed Aishwarya Rai solving a feud between her parents with a Coke singing “Pyar me kabhi kabhi aisa ho jata hai, saath me thanda ho settle ho jata hai…”. Recently, Coca Cola launched “Saath Khao Khushiyan Badhao” campaign which encouraged the younger teenage group to eat with the family. These advertisements showed Coca Cola as a symbol of bringing families together. Subcultures:
Coca Cola leveraged the classic North Indian custom of asking guests “Thanda Ya Garam” by equating thanda as Coca Cola – “Thanda matlab Coca Cola”. Gradually, Coca Cola marketed itself across all the states and subcultures in India through a marketing campaign involving Aamir Khan. These ads showed Aamir Khan enjoying Coke in a series of regionally inspired characters ranging from a Mumbai bhai to a Punjabi farmer, a Hyderabadi shopkeeper, a Nepali Sherpa and a UP bhaiya. All these ads used the local dialect but such that everyone could recognise it. The ads showed both a common man and a person from higher social class enjoying coke together. Thus Coke targeted all socio-economic classes. Coke targeted the rural market by introducing Rs5 bottle.
They also introduced small lahris which gave a small glass of Coca Cola company beverages for just Rs 2. Coca Cola has extensively used cultural symbols such as festivals; for instance, their campaigns for Navratri in Gujarat and the campaigns on Independence Day. It has also tied up with restaurants serving regional cuisine with taglines such as ‘Masala Dosa tastes better with a Coke’(on a menu card of Sankalp Restaurant in Ahmedabad ). Coca Cola aimed its newspaper advertising campaign at rural India (which it called India B) through some very creative ads featuring the Desi Jugaad Concept. These ads created an additional appeal to the urban youth (India A) by the way of undermining the actual conventional advertising plan. Hence we see that Coca Cola has established itself as a brand in sync with the Indian cultural values and marketed it across all cadres of the Indian society. Social Factors:
Social factors play an essential role in influencing the buying decisions of consumers. Some common influences are: Reference Groups
Roles and Status
Every individual has some people around him who directly or indirectly influence their attitudes and behaviour. Coca Cola has used this factor extensively to leverage its products, particularly with brands like ThumsUp and Sprite. Sprite was marketed as a soft drink for the modern urban youth who was quick-witted and street-smart. It focused on creating an aspirational group which young people would want to be associated with. Various campaigns were launched to achieve this: ‘Chalo Apni Chaal’: These advertisements mainly focused on the influence of aspirational groups on the self-concept, where in it was shown how someone aspires to be talented like others around him, but isn’t. However, after sipping coke, he decides to play by his own rules instead of competing with others, and thereby emerges as the real winner.
University of Freshology: This campaign focused on applying fresh techniques to get out of everyday tricky situations that one may find himself in. It used the image of a serious, bespectacled man – the Freshology Professor – giving lessons to people who find themselves in tricky situations. These advertisements used the concept of aspirational groups, as each person aims to slip out of such situations with ease, just as the ‘Freshology Professor’ preaches. ThumsUp used its ‘Aaj Kuch Toofani Karte Hai’ campaign, to portray a brand image of being different. With its advertisements and tagline, it aimed to urge people to think differently and do things differently – for e.g., in 1 TVC, Salman Khan hires a helicopter in order to pick up the Thums Up truck out of traffic, so that the stock at a shop can be replenished. This focused on attempting to alter the attitudes of consumers and bring about changed, fresh thinking, thereby positioning itself as a brand that is vastly different from others. Thums Up is geared towards a particular group of people who seek adventure and want to try something thrilling and exhilarating. This is also reflected in its strong taste.
By using conventionally ‘macho’ celebrities like Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, it means to portray an image of self-confidence and achievement-orientation, which consumers can aspire to become. Coca-Cola TVCs focus more on membership groups, particularly primary groups. For example, the idea of friendship is used in the Hrithik Roshan and Aiswarya Rai ‘Best Friends’ advertisement, professing how best friends are always together despite personal differences as they ‘always share a coke’. Another example is a TVC of school-going kids enjoying Coke together after an intense competition of eating spicy food. It portrays Coke as the medium which brings friends together and creates an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendship. Family
Family plays an important role in influencing the buying decisions of individuals. Coca- came up with various strategies to leverage this aspect in influencing consumer behaviour The ‘Share-a-Coke’ campaign used the concept of gifting on special occasions, wherein it gives people the chance to order personalized Coke bottles through a Facebook app. It was tremendously successful and brought about a 7% increase in sales due to this campaign alone. ‘Recipe for great meals’: Under this campaign, Coca-Cola published various recipes and how-to videos for various occasions, be it a picnic, a family feast or a pizza night with friends. It positioned itself as being an integral part of a great meal, along with family and good food. Along the lines of ‘Recipe for great meals’ is the ‘Saath Khao Khushiyan Badhao’ campaign, which aims to demonstrate family bonding over meals, and positions a Coke bottle as one of the many elements that show and enhance this bonding. The MinuteMaid TVC, which focuses on a mother and child, attempts to influence the woman in the family, understanding that in such a situation, it is the woman who makes the buying decision. Roles and Status
Each individual plays a dual role in the society depending on the group he belongs to and each rule in turn connotes to a status, which differentiates the buying needs and tendency of individuals. The products under the Coca-Cola umbrella cater to different segments based on their role in society. For example, Maaza was mainly targeted towards kids, Sprite towards the college-going youth, Thums Up towards the young-adult adventure-seeking male, Minute Maid towards the mother, etc. However, it is also true that apart from the primary demographic, there is a large tertiary demographic for each of these products. For example, consumption of Sprite is not restricted to just the youth. The product of coke comes in different packages and sizes – for example, higher social classes demand for canned coke while the lower classes demand for bottled coca cola.
Age and Stage in the life cycle:
Coco Cola has always tried to cater and portray itself to all the age groups. There have been campaigns like ‘Saath Khao Khushiyaan Badhao’ which showed families having dinner together. But there have been certain campaigns targeted towards youth in particular. For example Coco Cola released an ad called ‘Spicy Happiness’ which featured school and college students, thereby targeting the age segment of 15-25 years. In another example, Coco Cola also came up with an ad in which they used the backdrop of a library and showed two students. Coco Cola has used the Indian family concept in a lot of its campaigns. To counter the negative complaints post 2009, Coca Cola adopted the “Global happiness” campaign. It experimented with different kinds of images for the year. It was projected as a beverage enjoyed by the entire family together through ad campaigns like “Saath Khao Khushiyaan Badao”.
Also after the pesticide incident Coco Cola used Aamir Khan to re-image the brand and in one of the commercials, his character was a Bengali man who comes with his family to a restaurant. Occupation and economic circumstances:
‘Bewajah khushiyaan lutao’ campaign in which the actors from the movie ‘Student of the year’ were shown sharing a coke with people from different economic backgrounds like a waiter, lady on rickshaw and a shoe store helper. This was to create an image that coke is for everyone. Also the campaign ‘Thanda matlab Coco Cola’ showed Aamir Khan play variety of roles ranging from Mumbai Bhai to a Nepali Sherpa. This was also targeted to reinforce coke for everyone image. Personality and Self Concept:
Coco Cola has tried to create a happy and fun image. All its marketing campaigns have been directed towards it. ‘Open happiness’ campaign is one of the major ad campaigns by Coke. It is complemented by the jingle ‘Haan haan main crazy hoon’ which features people enjoying, helping and going out of their way to bring smile to strangers. Coca Cola India campaign “Umeedon Wali Dhoop, Sachchai Wali Asha” TVC launched in the year 2012, sells hope for a better tomorrow. This clearly gives a message of optimism and growth and shows that any and every dream is achievable.
Similarly the brand also roped in Sachin Tendulkar, as a “happiness brand ambassador” to support various CSR initiatives the brand is undertaking. Coca Cola India projects itself as a brand which wants to grow along with the society. In its endeavour, the company has undertaken a variety of community development projects in rural as well as urban areas. Coca Cola India’s Parvartan Program trains local Kirana store owners in good business practices. Similarly in another initiative, Coca cola has distributed Solar water cooler “ekocool” to female retailers in Interior regions of Uttar Pradesh. Psychological Factors:
All the product ranges available in the Coca-Cola umbrella have a different brand image which is actively developed to cater to a wider demographic. Some products like Coke and Thums Up, for example are very similar but have a widely different perception in the consumers’ minds due to different marketing strategies. While Coke is associated with happiness and togetherness, Thumbs Up is perceived to be more edgy and gritty and meant for adventurous people. In regards to a specific product, Coke has tried to ingratiate itself with the Indian consumer in order to increase its brand equity. For example, it has launched marketing campaigns for Indian festivals like Diwali so as to encompass the feeling of that festival, which resonate with Indian culture.
By associating itself with the Indian culture, it creates a positive impression on the consumers and they remember the core ideas of the campaign, if not the entirety of it. So, selective retention works in this case to carry forward the message of the company. Emotions:
The open happiness campaign has strong ties with emotions as people tend to connect more to a brand when they have a reason to feel a sense of elation and joy. HAPPINESS TRUCK: This campaign shows a truck which goes from one part of the country to another and distributes free coke and other gifts like teddy bears, sunglasses, etc. to the general public. This creates a sense of contentment and happiness in the minds of the viewer and creates an emotional tie with them. It also shows a sense of inclusivity as the entire community is seen to enjoy the experience. SMALL WORLD MACHINES: This campaign is a brilliant cross-cultural marketing strategy which surpasses national borders. It has identifies an emotion which can connect both regions and capitalized on that to promote the brand. The advertisement involves people from both nations communication through a ‘happiness machine’ which then distributes bottles of coke as rewards.
By associating itself with a joyful experience, it not only promotes its brand, but also created a favourable perception of itself in the minds of the consumer. CRAZY CAMPAIGN: This campaign ties both with memory as well as emotions as it illustrates people connecting with other people through the product. It celebrates impulsiveness and happiness and also has a catchy jingle which would be remembered by viewers long after watching the TVC. Thus it plays on both emotions as well as the memory of the viewers.
Classical Learning Theory: This concept is clearly seen in the ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’ TVC where initially, an unconditioned stimulus (thirst) produces an unconditioned response (need for a cold drink). The TVC links the thirst to the specific thirst for Coca-Cola (which is a conditioned response) by linking the word ‘Thanda’ to Coca-Cola (Conditioned Stimulus). Operant Learning: The idea of positive reinforcement is used in the concept of the Happiness Machines, Happiness Trucks and several variations of the same. The device rewards the customer with additional gifts like toys, flowers, cupcakes, etc when they get a bottle of Coke from the device. This works as an incentive to buy the product again in the future. Memory:
All the above mentioned factors like attitudes, perceptions, motivations, etc. play a role in creating top-of-the-mind recall for the company. Minimalistic Advertising: Coke has published several ads which are minimalistic in nature and are thus easily imprinted in the consumers’ minds. An example is the coke hands advertisement which is simple and elegant and stays with the viewer a long time afterwards. Apart from this, in order to translate interest into revenue, the method of spreading activation is used, where one event is used to trigger a favourable action. In this regard, products in stores are tied up with festivals and occasions and tied up in a way so as to immediately capture the attention of the potential buyer. Also, catchy tunes and jingles are associated with the TVCs to ensure top-of –the-mind-recall. Another important factor which ties in with memory correlation is subliminal messaging.
An important example is product placement in movies like Dhoom 2, Rang De Basanti, etc. In these movies, the brand is displayed usually as a background event which is not really pertinent to the plot of the movie, but leaves a lasting impression on the minds of the viewers. There are two ways to measure the impact of such a campaign: through explicit and implicit memory retention and how it ties up with economic benefit of the product. Although retention is an important part of brand promotion, memory retrieval is the most important concept, as the consumer has to actually buy the product in retail outlets and other stores in order to translate all the marketing strategies into concrete gains. In this regard, products in stores are tied up with festivals and occasions and tied up in a way so as to immediately capture the attention of the potential buyer.
We see that Coca Cola Company has leveraged consumer behaviour in all ways possible and has established itself as synonymous with happiness and fun.