Digital Transformation: Is Marketing Your Way In?

| By TMA World

Twelve months ago, Coca-Cola began its digital transformation, starting with marketing.  To do this the group identified four key areas of change: Experiences, operations, business, and culture.

  1. Experience: Creating more relevant, personalized experiences for the consumers and customers servicing them.
  2. Operational: Using data and technology to accelerate and remove processes.
  3. Business: Disrupting the business before someone else does it.
  4. Culture: According to Coca-Cola’s digital chief, David Godsman, “Lastly and most importantly, it’s about cultural transformation and how we change the fabric of the company that’s been around for 130 years and viewed itself as a traditional CPG [Customer Packaged Goods] company.”

Godsman says that this last transformation has been the most difficult.  “We are asking traditional brand marketers, who are brilliant at creating brands and executing campaigns, to become experience makers and think about the world differently.”

As the world digitizes, Coca-Cola needs to understand more about the preferences and behaviors of its consumers.  The challenge is to personalize at scale.

Coca-Cola serves about 1.3 billion consumers globally across 200 markets – 18 percent of the world’s population.  Nearly 2 billion beverages annually, roughly 10,000 drinks per second.

This broad base of consumers exhibits different behaviors and preferences, and for the company to meet these different needs it must engage with customers in different ways.  Mobile, social, and virtual reality are enabling new types of interactions.  “Digital does two things.  One, it enables us to create unifying experiences for consumers that regardless of language or location, helps bring them together.  Digital also enables them to participate actively and co-create with us on experiences to bring to market.”  Consumers become experience makers in a process of co-creation.

What Coca-Cola is demonstrating is that digital transformation can start in in one part of the business and impact others. David Allard, Coca-Cola’s VP of Integrated Marketing Communications, says: “. . . when you’re responsible for delivering meaningful and relevant experiences to your consumers, Marketing is definitely the first stop on the bus.  The larger opportunity of Digital Transformation is how we look at solving problems for our customers and consumers.  In real terms, that means looking at historically siloed aspects of the business and working in a truly collaborative fashion to break those down.  Silos that may have formally existed between IT, Key Account Teams, Operations, etc.  So while there’s nothing wrong with starting with Marketing and working back into the organization, it doesn’t always have to be an organization-wide initiative to gain traction.”


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