What makes Coca-Cola’s localization strategy successful in a plethora of countries? As one of the most popular brands in the world, Coca-Cola remains an industry leader in marketing and product sales. The highlights below are some of the core elements of the iconic brand’s strategy and the practical strategy they implemented in the most populous country – China.
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Although Coca-Cola has grown into a massive industry with a wide range of products, they never underestimate those simple ideas. Throughout the decades with thousands of marketing campaigns, they have maintained one strong and consistent message to their customers: Pleasure. By their promotion activities, they want to convey the message of “enjoy” and “happiness”. Sure, this concept never goes out of style and is easy to translate into different languages.
As a global company, Coca-Cola deeply understands that they cannot treat customers in each country the same. Hence, they always put the utmost effort to find a way to communicate to customers at a more personal level. For instance, their Share a Coke campaign initially began in Australia has now successfully expanded to more than 50 countries. Of course, each country’s offerings are customized to its culture and language, with the most popular names of each region placed on cans and bottles in the position of the company’s moniker. This would be a practical example of a simple but unique idea of Coca-Cola’s localization strategy when it comes to making your brand at home in local markets.
Social media is one of the most effective and fast-growing tools for successful international marketing. It offers firms the ability to approach customers agilely on a global level through a single platform simply. Both outstanding ideas for localization and the Share a Coke strategy encourage consumers to share their Coke experience with others. According to the Wall Street Journal, there were more than 125,000 posts about the campaign after launching in the US.
As Coca-Cola has become a symbol of American life, it takes different strategies to meet the preferences of global consumers. If they are limited to the American style for its localization strategy, it can’t become a worldwide recognized brand. For example, the original slogan in their homeland is “can’t beat that feeling”, but it was modified to “real taste” in Australia, or “Coca-Cola is in the house” in Russia. However, when it comes to the Chinese market, it is more difficult to connect with the locals. Since there are huge differences between Eastern and Western cultures, it’s very essential to conduct a thorough research first. Yet, after careful research about the market, they found a cross-cultural localization model for adaptation. Coca-Cola localized its brand identity for China from the following aspects.
The original bright red and white color mix with the ribbon pattern is the global unified visual identity of Coca-Cola to distinguish it from other competitors. When penetrating the Chinese market, although the color scheme and pattern remained intact, the name was modified into Kekoukele, meaning “tasty fun”. Not only does it sound like its international name, but it has an implication that personifies the Coke brand. Additionally, the Coca-Cola Chinese logo illustration adopts a white on red, which is the most prominent feature of the brand and also coincides with the traditional Chinese festival color: red. This special color represents happiness, prosperity, celebration, and the spiritual and material pursuits of Chinese people. Hence, the red of Coca-Cola instills a sense of familiarity and joyousness which the brand wants to resonate with audiences.
As we mentioned above, Coca-Cola doesn’t sell the liquid inside but the experience customers possess when having a bottle. Therefore, to successfully localize the product, the brand integrates Chinese culture and interest in the packaging. This approach makes consumers easily determine its brand, feeling brand affinity without knowing. For instance, they placed the image of famous Chinese young stars, traditional culture, significant events, etc. on the packaging.
Having a comprehensive knowledge of the target audience is important for a brand to develop an effective localization strategy. After carefully vetting the information of the Chinese market, Coca-Cola recognized that consumers in this country require more attention for auspicious, jollification, and family psychologically. These needs were the first on the list to concentrate on rather than spreading the American culture. Furthermore, the marketing channels in China have a huge difference from other countries as they have their domestic social media and communication channels to reach their target audience. With rigorous research, Coca-Cola’s localization strategy has prepared them well prepared to communicate with the audience inappropriate methods.
There are a lot of reasons contributing to the success of Coca-Cola’s localization strategy, but as one of the most successful brands in marketing, the core elements are cross-cultural communication and insistence of brand value itself. What we can learn from the global brand when it comes to localization is making human connections, maintaining innovation while staying true to sole principles.