2020 Category Captain for Packaged Beverages: The Coca-Cola Co.

In 2019, Coca-Cola identified an opportunity to drive the carbonated soft drinks (CSD) category forward through flavor innovation. Research showed that about 70 percent of Coke brand drinkers also drink non-cola alternatives for a change of pace, but only 12 percent of Coke drinkers also drink Coke flavors. Creating an option that would drive Coke drinkers to add Coke flavors to their repertoire represented a significant opportunity for Coca-Cola, the CSD category and convenience store retailers.

To do this, Coca-Cola set out to launch a new Coke flavor that would satisfy consumer desire for variety and ultimately inspire incremental purchases. In taste tests, Coke Orange Vanilla outscored other successful Coca-Cola products that were driving category growth. In North America, 70 percent of category consumers rated it "unique and different," 50 percent of Coke drinkers said they would buy it in addition to Coke (original taste), and 73 percent of Coke drinkers expressed purchase intent. Coke Orange Vanilla and Coke Orange Vanilla Zero Sugar both launched in February 2019, giving shoppers more of what they want: highly differentiated beverages that satisfy their need for variety. 

Coca-Cola worked with convenience retailers to roll out the products via multiple shopper marketing strategies. In the cold vault, Coke Orange Vanilla and Coke Orange Vanilla Zero Sugar were placed prominently, accompanied by static clings and shelf strips featuring fresh-looking orange slices and a summery color scheme to grab shopper attention. In the checkout zone, eye-catching barrel coolers inspired shoppers to impulse-buy the new drink on their way out of the store. The rollout plan also successfully leveraged Coke’s partnership with NCAA March Madness by launching Coke Orange Vanilla during the basketball tournament. More than 20 national retail customers (including convenience retailers) leveraged NCAA and Coke Orange Vanilla programs for in-store execution. 

Beyond convenience stores, Coca-Cola significantly invested in a 360-degree consumer engagement plan for Coke Orange Vanilla, from which the convenience channel also benefitted. Marketing support included TV, out-of-home, local radio, digital, mobile, social, retail trial-driving, point-of-sale, experiential sampling, PR and influencer engagement. 

Coke Orange Vanilla and its zero-sugar counterpart were an immediate success, spearheading 7.3 percent revenue growth for the Coca-Cola brand, taking it to a 10-year high. The product has breathed life into the entire CSD category. As Coca-Cola's first new flavor in more than a decade, Orange Vanilla drove 80 percent of category value growth in the convenience channel, at $9.4 million, and reached 75 percent of All Commodity Volume (ACV) within its first 10 months on the market. In one of the nation’s largest convenience chains, Coke Orange Vanilla almost tripled the growth of the entire CSD category and reached 78 percent of ACV.

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