A consumer behavior report on

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An overview of the company:

The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) is a leading manufacturer, distributor and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. The company owns or licenses more than 500 brands, including diet and light beverages, waters, juice and juice drinks, teas, coffees, and energy and sports drinks. The company operates in more than 200 countries. The company is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and employed 92,400 people as of December 31, 2008.1[1]

"TCCC has strong brand recognition across the globe. The Business Week and Interbrand, a branding consultancy, recognized Coca Cola as the number one brand in their top 100 global brands ranking in 2008, valued at USD 66,667 million in 2008. The company owns four of the top five soft drink brands in the world Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite and Fanta. (Datamonitor:July 2009)1" text slightly modified from original. First Para quoted from source.

(DATAMONITOR: The Coca-Cola Company." Coca-Cola Company SWOT Analysis (July 2009): 1-9. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 23rd, 2009).

Coca Cola is the number-one producer of carbonated beverages by volume and dollars. Having launched more than launched more than 700 products in 2008 around the world with its edgy campaigns showing the rest of the marketing community what it really means to manage a global brand. Worldwide relevance is what defines Coke, and it has successfully maintained its diversified portfolio in more than 200 countries. (Interbrand 2009) (http://www.interbrand.com/paper.aspx?paperid=82&langid=1000 accessed on 3rd Dec 2009.) text modified from source.

Coca- Cola in UK:

Coca-Cola arrived in the UK in 1900.(proquest 2009)

diet Coke

Introduced in the United States in 1982 and in Britain a year later, 'diet Coke' - or 'Coca Cola Light' as it's sometimes known - is now sold in 149 countries across the world, with sales in Britain second only to those of the United States.(coke website)

Motivation- Involvement

Involvement is the degree of influence that a brand has over a consumer and how it motivates them to form a strong bond with the brand. Michael Solomon describes involvement as "a person's perceived relevance of the object* based on their inherent needs, values and interests".* object- generic term for product, advertisement etc.( eighth edition buying having being)

Involvement can be triggered by a lot of factors and it differs from one consumer to the other. It reflects how motivated a consumer is to process information with regard to a product or its publicity (Solomon eigth edition buying having shitting.

Types of Involvement:
  1. Product Involvement- interest in particular products or services
  2. Message- Response Involvement-interest in advertising or marketing communications
  3. Purchase Situation Involvement-interest in purchase-situation.

Message- Response Involvement also known as advertising involvement refers to the consumer's interest in processing marketing communications. (Solomon eats shit, eighth edition, buying having pg 168) In today's times, marketers try and keep up with the theme of new technology aiming to increase the consumer's involvement with the marketing activity.

Diet Coke utilizes the message-response involvement model in a campaign that was exclusively targeted at female consumers aged between 16- 24. The campaign was titled the Silver Room.

The Silver room is an interactive mobile marketing campaign where young female consumers can access magazine-style content on their mobile phones such as celebrity gossip, fashion, music, film, games, and green issues. Cathryn Sleight, Marketing Director for Coca-Cola Great Britain said, "we have been looking at new ways to create a fresh dialogue with the next generation of Diet Coke drinkers. We feel the Diet Coke Silver Room is the perfect platform to offer these younger, tech savvy consumers both a great brand experience and some genuine added value and rewards, designed specially for them." http://www.mobiadnews.com/?p=2855#more-2855

Enhancing the level of Involvement:

According to Solomon, a marketer should boost a consumer's motivation by using one or all the factors listed below;

  • Appeal to a consumer's hedonic needs.
  • Use of novel and prominent stimuli
  • Include celebrity endorsements
  • Building bonds with consumers by maintaining consumer relationships with them.
Diet coke used these motivational add-ons to enhance their female consumers' involvement in the campaign

The 'diet Coke' Silver Room(fig 4.2) is fronted by Australian singing sensation Gabriella Cilmi, who is young and fits in well with the target audience. . Its light and almost playful modern feel appeals to the hedonic side of the female consumer . The campaign features content and promotions born out of several key partnerships: celebrity gossip from Heat, fashion from Get Lippy, music with Gabriella Cilmi, films with Fox and Paramount, as well as environmental content from Green Thing. Its signature content piece is the Music Mobcast. Voiced by Cilmi, this is two minutes of music news with three bands featured each week.

The site is also loaded with value-added features such as the Music Mobcast(fig 4.3), which uses a voice call to deliver content. The mobcast is 2 minutes worth of music news and information on 3 new bands each week which is voiced by Gabriella Cilmi. A user simply enters their phone number into the site and they receive a phone call. When they answer the phone, they hear Gabriella's voice on the line.

Perception:

Semiotics in Advertising:

When a consumer looks at an advert, he/she derives a certain meaning from it. To this purpose, marketers use a set of symbols or maybe even one that develops into a meaningful statement that the consumer relates to the product. And to achieve this meaning, the symbols have to precise, direct and should evoke a mental response to the imagery within.

To understand how effectively symbols can be used is important. For this, marketers turn to a field of study called semiotics specializing in 'the correspondence between symbols and signs and their roles in how we assign meanings to them'( Eighth edition Michael Solomon pg103).

From a semiotic perspective, every marketing message has three components;

  1. An object; the product
  2. A symbol; the image/ statement that serves as an extension to the product.
  3. The interpretant; the message or the meaning derived from the advert.

In relation to marketing activities, the advertising strategy incorporates semiotic symbolism by creating a relationship between the product and the desired attribute of the product. This strategy is usually long term as the message is constant and repetition helps to reinforce the meaning to the consumer.

The Latest Diet Coke Campaign-"Hello you".

Diet coke is changing its marketing focus to appeal to its female audience. Citation : Jonathan Birchall. 2009.Coca-Cola promotes healthier diets.Financial Times,October7, http://www.proquest.com/(accessed December 4, 2009).

Diet Coke's latest campaign valued at £35m ad features award winning Welsh singer Duffy,as a "strong and confident woman who takes control".(website)

The campaign, which includes posters with the strapline "I'm no superwoman", aims to represent confident young women taking a stand against the pressure of modern life.(website)

In the 60-second TV ad, in which Duffy covers Sammy Davis Jnr's I Gotta Be Me, the singer is seen in a break during a live show and, with the crowd calling for an encore, rejecting the pressure and heading for a break.She hops on a bike and cycles off to take some time out for herself before returning, taking a sip of Diet Coke, and returning to sing to the crowd.

The Welsh songstress has mixed reviews but after winning the Brit awards, she has climbed up the ladder of fame. The use of the 24-year-old singer - real name Aimee Anne Duffy - marks a significant departure for Coca-Cola, which in recent years has attempted to bring back the famous Diet Coke "hunk break" TV ads. (REFRAME)

Semiotic symbolism in the "hello you" campaign.

The semiotic symbolism is quite direct and appeals to women in the particular age group. The campaign as a whole gives light to liberating women from pressures of life(website quote caterin sleight). The symbolism behind this advert can be represented with the semiotic triangle as given;

Diet Coke: This brand in itself is one of the most recognizable brands in the world(quote from website 3rd biggest drink in the world). Diet coke over the years has a carved a niche position in the mindsets of its consumers as the lighter side of happiness.

The sign:

Duffy, the welsh songstress is riding on a crest of fame at the moment. She has won three Brit awards, two grammy's(iamduffy.com).

Cathryn Sleight, marketing director of Coca-Cola GB Duffy has reflected on using Duffy to endorse the brand saying, "Duffy as a young woman who is in charge of her own destiny, perfectly embodies the independent attitude we're championing. She looks fantastic in the new advertising." (http://www.utalkmarketing.com/pages/Article.aspx?ArticleID=13130&Title=Duffy_stars_in_new_'diet_coke'_advert,_No_more_'Diet_Coke_Hunk'_)

The lyrics:

The lyrics of this song has been adapted from an old classic originally sung by blah blah. It has a deep meaning to it.

Reference groups:

A reference group is "an an actual or imaginary individual or group conceived of having significant relevance upon an individual's evaluations, aspirations or behaviour.

V Parker Lessig,andC Whan Park.1978.Promotional perspectives of reference group influence: Advertising implications.Journal of Advertising (pre-1986)7,no.000002,(April1):41. http://www.proquest.com/(accessed December 12, 2009).

In terms of marketing, reference groups are relevant as they can provide important social cues that give insight into particular behavioral trends and associations with buying behavior. These cues extend to form an influence that is termed as 'social power'. Types of social power include information power, referent power, referent power, legitimate power, expert power, reward power and coercive power.(pg430 solomon buying having)

Diet coke marketing exploits this aspect of social power in its new campaign using the referent power model. Referent power is the social power of a reference group that motivates a consumer to aspire to emulate the same behavioural patterns portrayed by the individual or group. This also leads to influencing the consumer's purchase decisions."(p 430 'group influence' Solomon buying having..)

The diet coke rebellion:

Diet coke has partnered with 'Company', a leading women's publication as part of its 'Hello you' campaign to motivate young women to join a rebellion against the pressures they face in the modern day lifestyle. (website). 'company ' has a readership of 574,000(NRS 2009 report) within the target segment.(http://www.nrs.co.uk/toplinereadership.html) This partnership widens Diet coke's marketing to reach its target audience more effectively.

The first issue of the 'Rebel' issue as it is called premiered in May and was designed exclusively keeping the target segment's interests in mind. To maintain the campaign's visibility, two more issues were released in July and October. The magazine focused on topics of particular interest to women such as celebrity gossip, beauty tips, fashion etc with the rebel touch. This campaign was also supported by extensive online marketing through the cokezone website as well as getlippy.com.

The campaign was designed as a follow-up to the Duffy advert encouraging independent women to break free of all the pressures they faced and to rebel against prejudices present in the modern day world in a positive manner.

The referent effect on Diet coke target market.

Particular reference groups tend to have identifiable characteristics and unique forms of symbolic purchasing behavior, market segmentation in terms of such group characteristics as degree of exclusivity and formality is a useful means of pinpointing appropriate segments.1 Therefore the referent power of Diet Coke's target segment is further simplified as common behavioural characteristics are present.

The cover story was the new face of Diet coke and her rebellious ways helping women to identify with her as person more than a celebrity. Furthermore, the magazine established a common ground for the Diet coke's target segment to relate to their rebellious side.

Diet coke thus engaged directly with its target audience reflecting its link with their lives with this tie-up. This encourages their consumers to relate to and emulate characteristics of the referent group- the modern women who wants to break free and be themselves.

(1. Leigh, James H.,andGabel, Terrance G..1992.Symbolic Interactionism: Its Effects on Consumer Behavior and Implications for Marketing Strategy.The Journal of Consumer Marketing9,no.1,(January1):27. http://www.proquest.com/(accessed December 12, 2009).

Recommendations
  1. Website.
  2. More direct promotions, concerts, women- related csr activity.
  3. More give-aways.
  4. Create an online network databse of brand loyalists.

Figures show that UK sales of Diet Coke have fallen sharply despite their big budget advertising campaign to reposition the product to a female market. Citation : Jonathan Birchall. 2009.Coca-Cola promotes healthier diets.Financial Times,October7, http://www.proquest.com/(accessed December 4, 2009).

It has also been found that site traffic in terms of unique visitors to the cokezone website was considerably lesser than its American counterpart (refer appendix 1). It is recommended that an online portal designed for women in UK should be started to engage Diet coke's core consumer target to relate better to the brand's marketing activities. It would gradually enhance the involvement of the target market with the product. It is also recommended that brand should connect more personally with the consumer with the help of direct sales promotions, events for women.

Conclusion

The Coca-Cola Company is a global behemoth and diet coke being one of its flagship products enjoys a niche position in market. According to figures from the late, diet coke sales have fallen sharply. They need to reposition the brand. Duffy is young but maybe they should choose another celebrity to endorse their drink.

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