Miruna Codeanu

When silence is golden in marketing

In cappuccino on February 4, 2015 at 9:03 am

FairlifeBig companies are having a rough time: Coca Cola, Mc Donald’s and many others are trying to adapt to a new consumer. After launching Green Cola, Coca Cola announces they will be selling a new protein packed milk. In 2013 I was writing about Coca Cola becoming the latest devil, after tobacco. In 2014, Coca Cola made some major investments in tea companies. At the beginning of 2015, Coca Cola advertises the new milk as lactose free and packed with protein. “I hope it’s Coke’s next billion-dollar brand,” says Fairlife CEO Steve Jones.

This investment comes in a rough moment for the milk industry with milk sales falling in the last decades, also in a rough moment for Coca Cola, with their main drinks falling and consumers moving towards other market segments. Coca Cola has been on a constant lookout to enlarge their portfolio and keep their sales up and their struggle to be appreciated, however, their perspective might be a broken. Every time they have been launching a new product in the past 3 years at least, they have positioning the line or product as “a new coca cola product”. Which might be a bit faulty. When consumers started demonizing Coca Cola, their whole image as a brand and manufacturer was affected. At the beginning, sure it was about the coca cola drink, and then it was about the corn syrup, later on it was about something else, but all these affected Coca Cola’s image and brand. All new products were associated with this image which was already a bit shaken. This might be what is standing in the way of Coca Cola’s success for the time being. Coca Cola needs to learn that their once wonderful brand is now a bit shaken for some part of their target. Thus, associating their new product with a shaken image does not serve the purpose.

I keep comparing food and beverage to cosmetics, that is because they are becoming more and more similar, from ingredients to marketing, to the way consumers are developing. The cosmetics industry is also a very shaken market, with a slow growth (less than 5%) for big names in the industry and quick ascension for smaller brands, with Avon to sell for less than its value. However, there is a big brand that seems to have understood the recipe of a successful strategy, a giant of the industry. L’Oreal. L’Oreal is a lesson for strategy and branding. L’Oreal does not really build products, they buy businesses with potential and later they transform them into brands without affecting their initial. Look at their whole brands portfolio. Many of their brands you weren’t even aware that they are their brands. Most of consumers of Body Shop, Burt’s Bees, Vichy, La Roche Posay, Skinceuticals are unaware these are part of the giant group. When promoting Burt’s Bees, L’Oreal will not mention  it being a L’Oreal brand while Coca Cola insists in doing so.

L’Oreal learned that for the segment targeted by Burt’s Bees its image does not serve the purpose, and does not want the consumer to associate their mass market brand with Burt’s Bees. Coca Cola should try this out. Coca Cola should become a bit more obscure when promoting niche brands. Because, for a certain type of consumer the image of Coca Cola is irrelevant, unnecessary and harmful, even though a great brand for mass market.

What do we learn today? Today we learn that even though you may have an awesome brand, a successful story for mass market, another type of consumer might find your brand harmful to their eyes and the association with your brand may do more harm. Sometimes, silence is golden, even in marketing.

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