In 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton developed the first iteration of the classic soft drink, Coca-Cola. 130 years later it still reigns as the most popular soft drink on the globe. So popular, in fact, that, according to Coca-Cola's website, nearly 10,450 cans of their drinks are consumed every second. And Coca-Cola is the second most widely understood term in the world, just trailing behind 'OK'. In 1985 they even took their brand off-planet, becoming the first soft drink to ever enter space.
As one of - if not the - most iconic brands in the world, they are also vulnerable to intense scrutiny. So part of what drives Coca-Cola's core strategy is their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). This reflects the changing patterns of consumer behavior. A Cone Communications survey found that 87% of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocates for an issue they care about. 76% of Millennials will do research into the issues a company supports and the extent to which the company contributes. Acknowledging this in a statement on their website, Coca-Cola state their aim is 'The only path: Do the right thing, every time in every location. And, we must do this with authenticity and transparency. Consumers, especially young people today, expect nothing less.'
So, in 1991 they led the charge towards sustainability when they launched the first drinks bottle containing recycled materials. 100% of their packaging is now recyclable. In 2017 the UK government announced new guidelines for all food sectors to reduce sugar content by 20%. Coca-Cola supported this initiative by committing to not buying any advertising targeted at children under 16. In practice, this means that if more than 25% of the audience is under 16 they do not place adverts there. This is applied across all channels including TV, print media, outdoor, cinema and digital and social media. Additionally, in their 2015 CSR report, they announced plans to give away 1% of their income to charitable causes.
Asia Pacific is one of the largest growing markets for the business. In April 2018 they posted 5% growth in unit-case volume in the region. They were awarded Advertiser of the Year buy Spikes Asia in 2014. This is in part due to the fact that consumers in Asia’s emerging markets are the most socially conscious shoppers in the world. Therefore, Coca-Cola have committed to ensuring their strategies in the region reflect this growing need for corporate responsibility. Their contributions to social change in the area are extensive, and in a statement on their website they state 'we are working with consumers, government and local organizations to impact three areas that matter most to us: women, water and well-being.'
Recognizing the importance of achieving equality in business, Coca-Cola have championed a 5by20 initiative movement worldwide to encourage entrepreneurs. This has helped a total of more than 1.75 million since 2010 and, in 2016, 513,000 women had been enabled by this initiative worldwide. In the Asia Pacific region, this added up to being over 200,000 women in markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Vietnam. The program provides business skills training; access to finance and assets; and networking and mentoring—the necessary enabling tools for businesswomen to succeed.
In the 2000s, Coca-Cola faced heavy criticism for causing extreme water shortages in developing countries. This is a scandal they have tried to distance themselves from as much as possible in recent years. 'There is no resource more precious to human life and the health of our global ecosystems and economies than water. As a consumer of water, the Coca-Cola system has a special responsibility to protect this shared resource. This is why we set an aspirational goal of being water neutral by 2020,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Again, another Global initiative, Coca-Cola have supported water stewardship in the region since. This project has focused on the collaborative impact of public-private partnerships. This expresses itself in their championing water stewardship across the region with more than 70 community water partnership projects in markets like India and Thailand. In several countries, including Indonesia, in the region they have hit their target of being water neutral - which means every liter of water that is used is replaced and returned to the area.
Coca-Cola have committed to tackling the public health challenge of obesity in the region. They have established more than 100 active healthy living programs in over 19 countries across Asia Pacific.
Hear Pratik Thaka, VP, Creative, Content & Design Excellence Coca-Cola speak at our Chief Strategy Officer summit, July 11-12, Singapore.