Nobody needs Coca-Cola. For anything. And yet, they are one of the most enduring companies in the world with remarkably consistent financial performance and probably the best single marketing function in history. This you probably know.
What you may not know is how much time and effort Coca-Cola puts into forecasting, scenarios and innovation. I remember working with them back in the late 90s and early 2000s, and the company had an entire unit dedicated to futures analysis, including an internal publication keeping executives up to date with all the changes in the world. And even this process had a long history behind it. You can go back to the branding campaigns of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s and see a company very sensitively tuning its message to the changes of the whole world.
Today, it seems no different. Check out this interview with Coke’s CEO Muhtar Kent to understand the megatrends that Coke perceives, and what they plan to do about them.
When you became CEO, in 2008, what was your top priority?
There were two: establishing a long-term vision and restoring growth in North America. I felt that we needed a vision, a shared picture of success—both for us and for our bottling partners. We call it 2020 Vision, and it calls for us to double the business in 10 years. It’s not for the fainthearted, but it’s clearly doable.
What were some of the problems you saw?
We had become ingrown. Most of the meetings we were holding were just with ourselves. We weren’t going out to see how the world was changing.
How did you try to turn things around?
We brought in people from all over the world—the top 400 people in the company—to talk about how we had got into this position and how we were going to get out. We started working more closely with our bottling partners. We put a stop to all those internal meetings. We put new people in place. And we stabilized the company.
How are you doing so far?
We’ve still got eight years to go in Coca-Cola 2020 Vision. So far we’re on track. We have not wasted this crisis. We’ve saved more than half a billion dollars in unnecessary expenses and reallocated some of that to help fuel our brands. Our metrics are good, and we’ve been able to restore growth in our biggest market, which is the United States. When you start creating proof points like that, it’s great for your credibility. When our brands are strong, our bottling partners want to invest in the business, too.