We recognise that Coca Cola is the market leader of the soft drink industry, currently holding a 26.7% share of the market [Snapdata International Ltd (2006) UK Soft Drinks 2006] The company has a reputable brand image, which has been upheld continuously through various marketing strategies, mainly a straight extension approach of continuous reinforcement of the same message to create global brand awareness [Hollesen, S. (2001)]
2006 saw the launch of Coca Cola’s new product Coke Zero, which is a low calorie alternative to Coca Cola original. Coca Cola has divided its consumer base into segments through introducing products aimed at different target markets. The target market for Coke Zero is young health conscious males within the 18- 34 age group, which is currently an unexploited segment. [AZ Central (2005) Zero a hero to pop makers, drinkers] The alternative low calorie drink to Coke Zero is Diet Coke; however this product has failed to attract males due to the diet terminology which is avoided by males. [Times Online (2006) Coke Zero sales fall to deflate sugar-free fizz]
Coke Zero has been the company’s biggest launch in 22 years [Wikipedia (2006) Coca-Cola Zero], yet the sales have not been reflective of this. Initially, the sales were strong, aided a by a hot summer and the use of extensive commercials aiming to capture the male audience. Having moved into colder months as well as withdrawing promotions, sales have diminished. Furthermore, sales of Coke Zero have been cannibalizing those of Diet Cokes. [Times Online (2006) Coke Zero sales fall to deflate sugar-free fizz]. These issues are a setback for the business in terms of the amount of time and finances invested into making the product a success. Our concern is that without further market research and application of the findings, sales may continue to fall.
To ensure that the problem is addressed, we will concentrate our research around the following areas:
Investigation into current perceptions of the product Coke Zero.
This should reveal the extent of people’s knowledge of the product. Furthermore, it will allow us to evaluate whether the initial marketing campaign was successful in informing the public of the features of Coke Zero, or if the message needs to be communicated further. Consequently, this should indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the product, and hence prevent us from focusing on bettering aspects of the product which do not need improvement.
Exploring buying habits of male soft drink customers.
This will help us in assessing why the target market is purchasing alternative drinks, as well as reveal which factors form part of their decision making when purchasing a specific soft drink. In acknowledging the determining factors - whether these are related to image or health - we will be able to concentrate on enhancing the promotion of these in relation to Coke Zero.
Approach and method
We will carry out primary research to investigate our objectives which will involve gathering qualitative and quantitative data. Both forms of research produce insights into behavior, motivations and attitudes, however qualitative research uses an unstructured research approach with a small number of carefully selected individuals, whilst quantitative research uses a structured approach with a sample of the population [Wilson, A. (2006)]
In order to investigate the target markets perception of Coke Zero, we will make use of the following methodologies:
We will make use of a random stratified sampling method, targeting the questionnaires at 90 males in the age group of 18-34. The research has been split into 6 different age bands: •18-20