The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s leader in producing sweet soft drinks. The company is a powerful market player that feels the latest trends in the modern market perfectly and makes skillful use of them. Hence, Coca-Cola’s recent promotion campaign is truly global as it targets different countries including Nigeria and Uganda. The company’s extension to developing markets can be interpreted as an attempt to support the economies of low-income countries and pursue a sustainable policy.
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In the meantime, it is assumed that this campaign is not as transparent as it might seem at first sight. Thus, it is supposed that the company tries to strengthen its positions in such countries as Nigeria and Uganda in order to push up its sales that have been falling throughout the past quarters due to the declined demand for unhealthy products in developed countries. In other words, the Coca-Cola Company continues to use its powerful advertising tools in order to manipulate consumers’ behavior and promote its sugar-sweetened beverages despite the fact that the latter increases the risks of various health-related problems including obesity and diabetes.
On the face of it, the advertising campaign that Coca-Cola has launched in developing countries signifies nothing but the perfect understanding of the modern market and its latest trends. Hence, it seems that the company realizes clearly the necessity to create the impression of responsible and sustainable business making. In fact, “Taste the Feeling” is the first promotion campaign that is performed at the global level; otherwise stated, its format is not adjusted to the local environment.
Hence, for instance, the people in Nigeria are welcomed to share pleasant moments with Coca-Cola’s products and become closer to the world’s society in such a manner. Coca-Cola’s marketing representative in Nigeria claims that the campaign is mainly targeted to “reiterate our belief in Nigeria” (“Nigeria: Coca-Cola Launches Global Campaign in Nigeria” par.4). At first sight, the campaign does not have any negative implications – the company tries to strengthen its position in low-income countries which is mutually beneficial for both parties.
In the meantime, a closer analysis shows that the company’s intensive activity in poor countries is an attempt to compensate for the falling sales in developed markets caused by the declined demand for unhealthy drinks. It should be pointed out that the decrease in the demand for Coca-Cola’s products in developed countries is associated with two factors. First and foremost, the citizens of developed states are getting more and more concerned about the healthy lifestyle. As a result, they prefer to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and replace them with healthier drinks. The second factor is the unfavorable implications of the company’s reputation that are the result of the ethics scandal associated with Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of non-transparent research on obesity.
Taking into account the prerequisites described above, the triggers of the company’s entry into emerging markets seem to be evident. Coca-Cola appears to try to enlarge its clientele putting a particular emphasis on young people that “often set trends that are adopted by other demographic groups” (“Nigeria: Coca-Cola Launches Global Campaign in Nigeria” par. 3). Thus, the company communicates its advertising messages through various social institutions including schools and colleges in Uganda.
While this skillful management helps to capture the attention of the target groups and push up the sales, Flynn and Okuonzi note that the Coca-Cola Company makes good use of the social funding substituting skillfully the desire to gain more profit by the attractive ideas of “corporate social responsibility” (par. 1). This assumption might be explained by the fact that such countries as Nigeria and Uganda show particularly high risks of diabetes, liver disease, and other health problems that are, in their turn, provoked largely by the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Nevertheless, the company does not appear to be concerned about the local health-related problems.
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The point is that emerging markets offer a favorable environment for Coca-Cola’s promotion as they are not yet exposed to the shift towards a healthy lifestyle that might be seen in the USA, for instance (“Will Emerging Economies Drive Coca-Cola’s Growth?” par.1). As a result, it seems that the company tries to increase its revenues by extending its global campaigns in such countries as Nigeria and Uganda. In the meantime, the question arises whether it is ethical to take advantage of the consumers’ health-related ignorance in order to push up the sales of deleterious products.
Flynn and Okuonzi likewise point out the fact that the goals that Coca-Cola proclaims differ from those that it really targets, referring to the example of the “research institutions that it funds” (par.1). A brief investigation of the matter reveals that last year, the company had to face an unpleasant incident that had a negative impact on its reputation. Thence, Coca-Cola sponsored the research that tried to prove the harmlessness of the sugar-sweetened beverages and to revive the interest in the company’s products in such a manner.
The research met a lot of criticism and was rolled up shortly (Owen par.3). It is needless to explain that the incident had a diverse negative impact on the company’s reputation. Analyzing this incident, it might be assumed that the launch of the global campaign in low-income countries is Coca-Cola’s attempt to restore its reputation. The presence of a company in an emerging market can be presented attractively in its sustainability reports and official claims. Meanwhile, analyzing the case from the ethical perspective, it becomes clear that the company’s policy has not changed – it still tries to promote its unhealthy products under inspiring slogans.
As a result, it might be concluded that the global campaign launched by the Coca-Cola Company is another marketing ploy aimed at raising the company’s sales. Coca-Cola cannot fail to realize that the demand for unhealthy products such as sugar-sweetened beverages will keep falling as people begin to understand their harmful impact on their health. In addition, the company’s positive image that has been created for more than a century is challenged by the ethics scandals surrounding the brand.
In other words, their long-term prospects in the home market as well as in European countries become more and more unclear. Thus, the Coca-Cola Company strengthens its positions in Nigeria and Uganda – the countries that are less concerned about the healthy lifestyle and try to compensate for the decrease in sales with the help of the local residents. From the standpoint of marketing, this strategic approach is highly reasonable as it allows the company to maintain high revenues. Meanwhile, from the ethical perspective, such business making is inadmissible as it targets to gain profit at the expense of consumers’ health.
Flynn, Andrew, and Sam Agatre Okuonzi. “Coca-Cola’s Multifaceted Threat to Global Public Health.” The Lancet 387.10013 (2016): 25. Print.
Owen, Jonathan. A Recent Study That Said Diet Coke Can Help You Lose Weight Was Quietly Funded by Coca-Cola, 2016.