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Coke’s Content Strategy: Creating Emotional Connections

  
  
  
  
  
The concept of brands becoming publishers/media channels is not new, but Coke just took it to a new and exciting place.  They just re-launched their website, the first refresh since 2005, and turned their online presence into a consumer magazine called Journeys.  Specific details from the New York Times can be read here.

The key point is that Coca-Cola realizes they need a smarter approach to selling a commoditized product in a new media world.  Advertising is getting less effective as technology gives consumers more ways to avoid it.  And, media savvy people are comfortable getting information and entertainment from brands.  What Coke really understands is the need embrace their role as a lifestyle brand and create lasting emotional connections with consumers.  They are using content, entertainment, video and storytelling to engage customers.  This approach works naturally in the social media and mobile world as those platforms become distributions channels for the original content.  And, provides a venue to encourage user generate content and sharing.

There is a good lesson here for companies who battle on price or features and often have a transactional relationship with their customers. These types of competitive situations become a war of attrition as marketers’ battle over discounts and promotions.  Supermarkets and consumer electronics are examples in addition to consumables like cola, coffee, bottled water etc.  If these companies can make the transition to lifestyle brands they will be able to leverage loyalty and maintain margins.  Apple, Starbucks, Wegmans and Whole Foods are good examples, not to mention Harley-Davidson, LL Bean, Nike, Ritz-Carlton and Patron.  They can command a premium vs. similar competitors because they have pivoted to a lifestyle brand.  Being a customer of these brands allow you to say something about your personality and enables people to feel they are part of a community of like minded people.  This dimension cannot be underestimated in a world were people are sharing much of their lives online.

Coke’s strategic commitment and investment is a smart one and will likely be duplicated by many other brands in the near future.  Smart marketers should be thinking about how their customers perceive them in relation to competitors.  In the new media era you need to be more than a company that just sells “stuff” at a good price.

Coke sign

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