Coca-Cola has been facing mounting attacks about the healthiness of its products (see our blog post from last October for more). The soft drink maker is responding with a campaign to call attention to its low/no-calorie options (see below). While some have criticized the efforts as “damage control,” others are more optimistic about what this means — see “What Coke’s New Ads Mean for Brands and Consumers” (Co.Exist, January 17, 2013).
What do you think? Is Coke engaging in damage control? Or is the company simply doing what it has always done quite well, anticipating and responding to its customers’ needs? This debate alone could spark an interesting in-class discussion.
If I were to venture an opinion, I believe that some of both is going on. It is not really either/or. Coke has always been responsive to its customers — often accurately (sometimes not so accurately — recall New Coke and Coca Cola Blak) predicting customer needs with very successful products.
There is another interesting angle to this Coca-Cola situation. The rise of social media increases the risks of not getting ahead on these issues. If Coca-Cola does not anticipate changing consumer sentiment, its reputation could be seriously harmed. Coke is listening (and anticipating) and coming out with more low/no-calorie beverages.