Coca-Cola Goes Green: The Launch of Coke Life
(5 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In June 2013, The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) launched Coke Life, a naturally sweetened but sugar-reduced carbonated soft drink. Coke Life complemented TCCC's established product line consisting of Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero. Coke Life substituted a portion of the sugar component with stevia leaf extract and contained 35 per cent less sugar than Coca-Cola Classic. TCCC claimed that “Coke Life is for adults looking for a great tasting Coke but [one with] fewer kilojoules and [that is] sweetened from natural sources.” Affected by governmental interventions, such as the implementation of special taxes and warning labels, the consumption of soft drinks had slowed down significantly, which had caused leading soft drink manufacturers to introduce “green” product modifications of their traditional beverages. When TCCC launched Coke Life, the market for carbonated soft drinks was highly competitive and was shrinking in part due to concerns over soft drinks contributing to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Was Coke Life likely to be successful? Or was it simply a “greenwashed” product in a highly segmented market?
This case is suitable for undergraduate marketing students and MBA courses in business ethics. The key teaching and learning objectives are
- to comprehend the impact of changing consumer behaviour on the financial performance of a company;
- to understand the concepts and importance of market segmentation, positioning, and branding;
- to analyze value propositions and value creation;
- to critically evaluate marketing decisions from a financial and an ethical perspective; and
- to critically discuss the role of governmental policymaking in order to intervene in worrying consumer behaviour.
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