Category Archives: Positioning

Will the biggest change for Diet Coke in 35 years make a difference or is it lipstick on a pig?

A very exciting start of 2018 for Coca-Cola Company in America: the successful Coke Diet brand is renewed after 35(!) years.

Coca-Cola Company calls it a relaunch of the brand. The cans are smaller, have a fresh new design, and there are four extra flavors.

The renewal and modernization of the Diet Coke brand is done to attract a new generation of drinkers and offers millions of current fans a new look and more flavors.

Rafael Acevedo, the North America group director for Diet Coke, further explains that “we’re modernizing what has made Diet Coke so special for a new generation. The same unapologetic confidence still comes through, and the same great Diet Coke taste people love is here to stay, but we’re making the brand more relatable and more authentic.”

A two-year study has shown that younger Americans have an affinity for “big, yet refreshing and great-tasting flavors” in their favorite foods and beverages – from hoppy craft beers to spicy sauces.

So far everything goes according to the plan. Coca-Cola Company sees an opportunity to increase their share in the category of diet cola: welcoming new drinkers with new flavors and getting current drinkers to try new flavors.

The problem, however, is that whole soda category in America is in decline for the last 12 years. In 2017 the sales were similar to 1985 (!). These days, consumers know better: sugar is not good for you. This insight causes the whole category to decline.

You would think the war against sugar would give the sales of diet products a push – the fewer calories, the better – but it is not happening. Why? Consumers are getting more and more skeptical about artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame. In fact, the skepticism is so bad, that currently, the high-sugar variants of Coca-Cola and Pepsi the number 1 and 2 most sold cola products.

It did not help that Coca-Cola in 2012 began to defend the use of sweeteners in newspapers. This way you achieve exactly the opposite effect: consumers will trust you even less.

And it becomes tough when your biggest competitor starts to make a point in advertising and on the can that aspartame is excluded from their Diet line.

Consumers move to other categories of drinks and the big winners in the fight for healthy drinks are not the Diet brands, but the water brands, including Dasani, a brand of Coca-Cola Company.

I expect that the new design and the new flavors will undoubtedly benefit the Diet Coke brand in the short term. However, in the long term it is “lipstick on a pig”. The trend against unnatural has started, and not just in the soft drink category. Also in the food category the organic market in America has grown from 1B USD in 1990 to 40B USD in 2017. This is a trend that will affect many categories.

In a declining category, a brand has to take what it can take while the category is still selling, but as a company, you will have to focus on new categories. And this is what Coca-Cola Company does very well, as we see with their new brand for ice tea: Fuze Tea, but more initiatives are needed to get back in growth mode.

Presidential Brand Battle – 6 reasons why Trump will win

This Presidential campaign in the USA  is -to say the least- very interesting. I do not think ever before we have seen candidates that are both disliked by so many people. Yet, the simple fact is that regardless all of that only one will win.

I lived in the USA when Obama won his first election. Ever since I have followed closely every election. In February I concluded that we could be looking at Bernie Sanders and Trump for president. I was partly right (depending on the various views on what actually happened inside the Democratic Party election process).

Now, roughly a month before the election I look at both candidates through brand glasses and predict that -perhaps against all odds- Donald Trump will become the new president of the United States.

Here are 6 reasons why Trump will win the election:

1. NEW over DIFFERENT

People are not interested in what is different, they are interested in what is NEW. When a new iPhone has launched the headlines are all about the new features, hardly ever about what is different.

Similarly in politics. Obama won in 2008 with the one-word slogan “Change”. Change from the old, a promise of something new.

Today Trump represents the NEW – he distances himself from the establishment and has a new approach to the campaign. On the other hand, Hillary represents DIFFERENT, she is a different representation of the current political landscape.

 

2. POWERFUL SLOGAN

Trump clearly has the better slogan “Make America Great Again”. Whether you are as a voter in the Hillary or Trump camp – it is hard to argue with the intention – who wouldn’t want to make America great (again)? And for those who remember, the slogan is a more active version of the Reagan slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again”. Indirectly giving the message that it can be done, just like how Reagan did it in the eighties.

Clinton, on the other hand, has had weak slogans. First, there were the self-centered “Hillary for America” and “I’m With Her” slogan. Followed by the current “Stronger Together” slogan. This slogan is very controversial after the scandals with her private e-mail server, mixed interests of the Clinton Foundation or calling out Trump supporters as “deplorables” and Sanders supporters as “basement dwellers”.

 

3. THE BETTER NAME 

All successful products start with a good name. It is the foundation of your marketing. The name “Clinton” has a lot of history.  While both positive and negative it simply cannot be avoided. People have a perception of the name “Clinton” in politics and perceptions are hard to change.

On the other hand the name Trump has a history as well. Yet, there are no established perceptions of the name in the context of politics.

 

4. MORE (FREE) PR, MORE ENGAGEMENT

When looking at Google trends, social media and the established media it is clear that Trump has the lead in engagement. Of course, not all is positive but that is ok. In many ways, the established media is handing the benefit of the doubt unwillingly to Trump. They help to build the brand as reverse psychology will come to play. With all the negative press voters will ask themselves “If this guy is so bad, why is everybody then writing about him?” or “Is there nothing bad about Hillary ?”

 

5. LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GRABBING THE WALLET

The Reuters headline “Trump scores with small money, lags with big donors” tells it all: there is a different type of support for Trump. These are not the few big cooperations or hedge funds, but the average American willing to invest in the brand. This is key as these people have shown their support by grabbing their wallets.

If played well these supports can over the next weeks amplify the Trump brand. After all, they have invested in the brand and will talk about it. In conversations, we trust a human to human recommendation over any marketing message.

 

6. CLEAR FOCUS

For any brand a clear focus is crucial. Brand supports must be able to tell what the brand is about and where it stands for.  Trump has picked topics and over the campaign has stuck to them. The topics do raise debate fueling the brand engagement. Hillary does not seem to focus on one topic and her topics do not raise the same amount of brand engagement.  Great brands know that in the mind of the consumer a brand that does just one thing really well is more credible than a brand that does everything.

 

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020

Regardless the outcome on November 8 this presidential campaign has proven to be one of its kind. And who knows, perhaps it has set a bigger change in motion. A change that gives the Independent Candidate a shot to the presidency in 2020! Now that would be a change!

Published on Oct 5 2016