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  • Writer's pictureKanhaiya Maheshwary

Analyzing the success of Australia's Share-a-Coke campaign

In the year 2011, Coke found out that 50% of millennial and teenage population hadn’t tried out Coke. Also, there was a disconnect with the original consumer of Coca Cola, i.e. the elderly population who were 50 and above. Something needed to be done about the same, and Coca Cola did what any brand would - put together a market research study to understand the psyche, needs, and wants of these target groups. And regarding the challenge at hand, they set some objectives:


1) Increasing Sales, as it was the summer season in Australia;

2) Engaging with the customers, thereby building long term brand loyalty.

About the Campaign

The idea was very simple. Coca Cola printed 150 of Australia’s most common names on the label of its bottle, replacing the famous Coca Cola logo but retaining the font. Coke relied on the belief that people find personalization irresistible. This personalization helped people ‘share’ a Coke with people who mattered the most to them by finding a bottle that bears their name.

The results were phenomenal. Coke was able to sell 250 million personalized bottles in a country of just 23 million people.

Potential Effects of the Sales Promotion

Usually, brands do a sales promotion activity for one of these 3 reasons -

  1. Brand Sales - In the case of Coca Cola, the consumption increased from 1.7 billion servings per day to 1.9 billion servings per day. Almost a 2% jump!

  2. Category Expansion - In the case of Coca Cola, the soft drink beverages category actually expanded by 4% as a result of this activity.

  3. Brand Switching - This is often one of the possible outcomes of a sales promotion activity when the nearest competitor's product is substitutable. While there are no hard facts to back this data, there is definitely a possibility that the millennial generation as well as teenagers who had never tried Coke might have been enticed to either try it or gift it to someone because of the unique personalization. In fact, Coke tried hard to do this by making people gift it to people by coming up with such creative posters -

Even research shows that a majority of promotional volume comes from either brand switching, and/or category expansion. Coke’s volumes may have been the result of both of these factors. And Coke seemed to have tapped into the fact that there is only so much that a heavy user can consume – therefore tap the ones with low or almost no usage.

Also, Coca Cola played on the fact that promotional elasticity is greater than price elasticity and combined it with the summer season. Given the exclusivity of those bottles and the limited summer season, the promotion had a great chance of working, and it did.

Understanding Consumer Rewards using the CWL Framework

In 1999, Pierre Chandon, B. Wansink, and G. Laurent put forth a question - are monetary gains the only possible explanation for the success of a sales promotion campaign? If not, what are the other parameters and what is their effectiveness? To turned this question into a framework where they realized the other benefits could have been -

  1. Hedonic - opportunities for value expression, entertainment, and exploration;

  2. Utilitarian - savings, higher product quality, and improved shopping convenience.

This framework is known as the CWL Framework of Sales Promotion.

In the case of Coca Cola’s sales promotion, we can clearly notice that the consumers were deriving Hedonic benefits by being a part of it. It had the following components for them, as mentioned in the CWL Framework

Entertainment Value

There’s an inherent entertainment quotient attached to the entire prospect of having a bottle carrying your or your loved one’s name. And in order to enhance this, Coca Cola coupled this campaign with a digital campaign, thereby making it high on entertainment. People could do the following by using digital properties of Coca Cola –

o Share a virtual Coke with your loved one;

o Create your own bottle of Coke with any name;

o Vote for the next set of names to be printed on Coke bottles.

Self-Expression Value

Sharing a bottle of Coke was a way to show how much personal relationships matter to a person. In order to amplify this, Coke did the following things –

o Sent a mobile van which could print customized labels so that people who want to gift it to those whose names aren’t available can do so;

o Shared stories of people by the means of billboards and social media. There is an example of a heartwarming tale of an army officer’s wife who picked up a can for her and said she will wait for him to return. Coke converted this story into a billboard;

o Started a social media campaign where people could share their photos and thereby create a buzz about this consumer promotion.

Results of Share-a-Coke Sales Promotion Campaign

· Young adult consumption went up by 7% in 3 months, making it the most successful summer for Coca Cola;

· 5% more people were drinking Coke despite that summer being the wettest in 111 years

· 4% increase in category, and 3% increase in transactions;

· 378,000 custom Coke cans were printed at various outlets, and 76,000 virtual Coke cans were shared;

· 18,300,000+ impressions on Social Media (equivalent to media value of $500,000);

· Traffic on Facebook page up by 870%, and page likes up by almost 40%;

· Ogilvy & Mather won 7 Cannes Lions for this Consumer Promotion;

· Teenagers claimed that they have a very positive impression of Coke.

Explainer Video of the entire Share-a-Coke Campaign

Learnings from this Sales Promotion Campaign

1. Marriage of consumer insights: Coca Cola had one piece of information with them which said that over 50% of millennial and teenage population hadn’t tasted a Coke either ever, or in the past 1 year. Another piece of insight was that personalization was a way of life for this target group. The way Coke married these two insights made the consumer promotion highly successful.

2. Multichannel Approach: The use of various media such as social and digital media, billboards, mobile vans, in-store promotions, and mall activations, together, and in the right proportion was instrumental in helping this consumer promotion gain leverage. The key learning here is that it is essential to supplement a consumer promotion idea with various other marketing tools, and in the right proportion.

3. Powerful Call to Action Slogan: Just as with ‘Britannia Khao, World Cup Jao’, where the slogan was extremely powerful, Coke’s simple ‘Share a Coke’ worked wonders. It was easy to recall, and served as a powerful call to action. It told the consumers what to do – Share a Coke!

Do you have any memorable campaign that you'd like to share as well? Drop them in the comments or send me a DM!

(Originally written for Prof. Sreeram Sivaramakrishnan's Sales Promotion class. Updated and some new portions written today).

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