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Coke to connect with new-age consumers across media
The Economic Times, May 17, 2019

Coca-Cola is changing its marketing mix rapidly to ensure its presence across dozens of media platforms in different forms to reach the new-age consumers with fast-diminishing attention spans and increase regionalisation of beverage consumption.

The country’s biggest beverages maker is also investing on neurosciences and analytics to capture consumer insights on products and marketing messages, a top official said.

“As much as we love the 30-second spot which continues to play, we are also focusing on multiple other touch points to stay relevant with consumer’s attention spans which have reduced dramatically,” Vijay Parasuraman, vice-president, marketing, at Coca-Cola India, told ET in an interview. “The good thing is ad spends are growing across platforms including television, print and digital/social, and our spends have also increased over last year.” While he did not share how much the maker of Thums Up and Sprite spends on advertising, media agency sources estimate that it is Rs 1,200-1,500 crore a year. But it is no longer among the country’s top 10 ad spenders, having given way to e-commerce majors such as Amazon and Flipkart.

Coca-Cola is reallocating spends across platforms but not at the cost of any one medium, Parasuraman said. “The challenge all consumer facing companies are facing is how to integrate an idea across various platforms. The ‘one big shot on a television commercial with one celebrity’ days are over,” he said.

“Even if the ideas work, how are we telling stories in each of these interceptions is the final end game of all this,” said Parasuraman who has been heading the marketing function at Coca-Cola India since mid-2017 when he moved from its China office. So, Coca-Cola has been picking up key sponsorships in marquee properties such as the just-concluded Indian Premier League T20 tournament, the ICC Cricket World Cup and big movie releases. “For every time zone of the year, where the active viewing is much ahead than passive viewing,” Parasuraman said. Coca-Cola picked up on air co-presenting sponsorship for IPL on official broadcaster Star India’s channels and its digital platform Hotstar for close to Rs 135 crore, and signed a five-year global sponsorship deal with the International Cricket Council (ICC) as exclusive non-alcoholic beverage partner for all ICC events starting 2019 for an estimated Rs 300 crore.

Another challenge the company is facing is responding to hyperlocalisation. Coca-Cola has been pushing with flavours and variants catering to specific geographies to ward off the threat of regional strongholds. “Earlier, there would be one communication, which we could dub and put it across everywhere,” Parasuraman said. “Now you have to find stories that work for each location and national medium.”

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