The Marketing Review, 2003, 3, 289-309
Demetris Vrontis1 and Iain Sharp2
Manchester Metropolitan University Business School and Legal and General
The Strategic Positioning of Coca-Cola in their
Global Marketing Operation
Examines how Coca-Cola has strategically positioned it self within the world’s soft drinks market. Given that they operate in over 200 countries, they are faced with a clear choice of whether to standardise their product offerings globally and reap the potential benefits of economies of scale, adapt their offerings to a particular market (which may facilitate increased market specific penetration), or adopt an integrated approach utilising both approaches simultaneously (Vrontis’ AdaptStand approach). There has been much literature written regarding the external and often uncontrollable factors which may impact upon a firms positioning strategy; this paper looks at these externalities and the internal controllables in order to derive a ‘best fit’ strategic and tactical approach. Moreover, this paper looks at the strategic international positioning of Coca-Cola by utilising a number of models.
Keywords: Coca-Cola, global, international, strategy, positioning, adaptation, standardisation, AdaptStand, AdaptStandation, international, marketing,
If we consider business to be akin to war, then perhaps there is no better starting point than the writings of Sun Tzu [circa 400-320 B.C.]. ‘The Art of War’ is the oldest formalised writing focusing on the concepts and principles of warfare and military strategy. Written over two millennia ago, it is still valid in the modern world, not only in military terms, but also in business. “Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits his enemy is at ease, and he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary. And, therefore, those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him. One able to make the enemy come of his own accord does so by offering him some advantage. And one able to stop him from coming does so by preventing him. Thus, when the enemy is at ease, be able to tire him, when well fed, to starve him, when at rest to make him move.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War, The Oldest Military Treatise In The World.
Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School Business Planning Manager, Legal and General
ISSN 1472-1384/2003/3/00289 + 20 £8.00
©Westburn Publishers Ltd.
Demetris Vrontis and Iain Sharp
It is perhaps not so unlikely, that writers such as Porter, Doyle and other advocates of strategic positioning have developed their models based upon this ancient text.
According to Cummings (1993) the word strategy derives from the ancient Athenian position of strategos – στρατηγός. Strategos was a compound of ‘stratos - στρατός’, which in Greek means army.
Moreover, ‘tactiki - τακτική’, in Greek meaning tactics, is the way in which the Greek strategoi (plural of strategos) where implementing their strategic thinking and putting their plan to action.
This paper illustrates how Coca-Cola’s international strategy and tactics work in harmony after an in-depth consideration of the external forces found in the global environment.
Strategy and organisational effectiveness are essential to the success of any organisation, but they are both very different. Strategic positioning, is a unique approach that integrates both strategy and organisational effectiveness in a way the serves to differentiate an organisation in its market place and drive success.
To understand how Coca-Cola use strategic positioning in their global marketing strategy we need to explore the term ‘strategic positioning’ and then to determine how a firm can utilise these strategies.
“When it comes to product strategy, managing in a borderless world doesn’t mean managing by averages… it doesn’t mean that the appeal of operating globally...
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