Topics: Marketing, Strategic management, Marketing plan Pages: 43 (7431 words) Published: October 20, 2014
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...

References: Aaker, D.A. (1998), Strategic Market Management, John Wiley and Sons Inc
Ansoff, I
Quarterly, Vol. 4, 1-2, pp.9-15
The Coca-Cola Company, Annual Report, (1998)
The Coca-Cola Company, Annual Report, (1999)
Collins, D.J
Cummings, S. (1993), “The First Strategists”, In: de Wit and Meyer (2001),
Strategy: Process, Content, Context, Thomson Learning
Dana, L.P. and Oldfield, B.M. (1999), “Lublin Coca-Cola Bottlers Ltd”,
International Marketing Review, Vol
Day, G.S., (1986), Analysis for Strategic Marketing Decisions, West
Douglas, S. and Wind, Y. (1987), “The Myth of Globalisation”, Columbia
Journal of World Business, Winter
Doyle, P. (1983), “Marketing Management”, unpublished paper, Bradford
University Management – Centre, In: Brooksbank, R
Hamel, G. and Prahalad, C.K. (1985), “Do you Really have a Global
Strategy”, Harvard Business Review, Vol
Jeannet, J-P. and Hennessey, H.D. (1992), Global Marketing Strategies,
Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company
Kogut, B. (1985), “Designing Global Strategies: Profiting from Operational
Flexibility”, Sloan Management Review, Vol
Kotler, P. (1991), Marketing Management, Analysis, Planning,
Implementation and Control, 7th Edition, Prentice Hall Inc
Levitt, T. (1983), “The Globalization of Markets”, Harvard Business Review,
Ohmae, K. (1990), The Borderless World, London, Collins
Markides, C
Prahalad, C.K. and Hamel, G. (1990), “The Core Competence of the
Corporation”, Harvard Business Review, May/June
Porter, M.E. (1980), Competitive Strategy, Techniques for Analysing
Industries and Competitors, New York: Free Press
Porter, M.E. (1986), “The Strategic Role of International Marketing”, Journal
of Consumer Marketing, Vol
Porter, M.E. (1985), Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining
Superior Performance, New York: Free Press
Rumelt, R. (1980), “The Evaluation of Business Strategy”, Business Policy
and Strategic Management, Edited by W.F
Sanchez, R., Heene, A. and Thomas, H. (1996), Dynamics of CompetenceBased Competition, London: Elsevier
Stalk, G., Evans, P
In The World, Translated from the Chinese By Lionel Giles, M.A. (1910)
Svensson, G
Vrontis, D. (2003), “Integrating Adaptation and Standardisation in
International Marketing, The AdaptStand Modelling Process”, Journal of
(Dana and Oldfield, 1999)
Evidence of adaptation within regions of countries (i.e
Is Coca-Cola guilty of imposing these ideals and adopting an ethnocentric
viewpoint? (Thomas and Hill, 1999)
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Coca Cola Branding Strategies Essay
  • Essay on Marketing Coca Cola
  • Coca cola marketing research Essay
  • Essay on Coca Cola's Marketing Strategy
  • Coca-Cola marketing plan Essay
  • Coca Cola Marketing project Essay
  • Coca Cola Marketing Plan Essay
  • Coca-cola Marketing Plan Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free