Coca-Cola is the brand which perhaps best exemplifies global marketing. It is enjoyed hundreds of millions of times a day by people all over the globe. It can be found almost anywhere in the world, from large cities to remote villages, across five continents. The Coca-Cola Company sells nearly half of all soft drinks consumed around the world. No other soft drinks company sells even half as much! The Coca-Cola Company has a number of important soft drinks brands, the best known of which are Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta and Lilt. In Ireland, the Coca-Cola brand is the market leader in the carbonated soft drinks (CSD) market, with a market share of 25 per cent. Its next nearest competitor, 7-UP, has 17 per cent of the market and its nearest rival in the cola market, Pepsi, has 3 per cent market share. The Coca-Cola contour bottle is one of the brand’s key icons and is the symbol of the brand’s authenticity. It was developed in 1916 to create a distinct identity for the brand in consumers’ minds and to protect the brand from being imitated by competitors. Today it represents the very essence of the brand’s identity in the marketplace and remains instrumental in differentiating the brand from all other competing products. This business study describes the creation of the Coca-Cola contour bottle and how this contour bottle has become a central component of the consumer strategy for Coca- Cola. It exam in es h ow this Contourisation Strategy impacts on all aspects of the brand’s marketing mix. It describes the successful introduction of Coca-Cola into the Irish market and examines the reasons for the success of the more modern packaging format.
Thinking that ‘the two Cs would look well in advertising’, Dr Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, suggested the name and penned the now famous trademark ‘Coca-Cola’ in his unique script. The first newspaper advertisement for Coca-Cola soon appeared in The Atlanta Journal, inviting thirsty citizens to try ‘the new popular soda fountain drink’. During the first year, sales averaged a modest nine drinks per day. In 1888 Dr Pemberton sold his interest in Coca-Cola to Asa G. Candler. Candler formed The Coca-Cola Company in 1892 and immediately invested all his energy into advertising and marketing the product. He distributed souvenir fans, calendars, clocks and countless other novelties, all depicting the Coca-Cola trademark. So successful were his efforts that by 1895, Coca-Cola was being drunk in every state and territory in the United States. As demand for the product grew, production was increased and it was made available in straight-sided bottles. The bottling of Coca-Cola meant it could be consumed virtually anywhere. Consumption was no longer restricted to soda fountains. However, this led to a new problem. How could Coca-Cola be protected from its imitators? Early advertisements warned of the perils of poor imitations. ‘Demand the genuine’ and ‘Accept no substitutes’ reminded consumers to accept nothing less than the real thing. However, as soft drink competition intensified, so did imitation. What was needed was a distinctive form of packaging for the bottle. This would prevent Coca-Cola from inferior imitations.
The Coca-Cola bottle – creation of a design icon
The now well-known bottle was designed by the Root Glass Company according to a brief which required: ‘a Coca-Cola bottle which a person will recognise as a Coca-Cola bottle even if he feels it in the dark. The Coca-Cola bottle should be so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was’. Swedish-born bottling plant superintendent Alex Samuelson gathered design ideas based on the main contents of the Coca-Cola drink. He researched illustrations of a cocoa bean, created designs and then passed them on to the Root Glass Company’s mould supervisor, Earl Dean. The Coca-Cola Company approved the shape of the bottle in 1916. The curves, grooves and flutes of the glass bottle...
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