Marketing in Practice

Given the new marketing realities, organizations are challenging their marketers to find the best balance of old and new and to provide demonstrable evidence of success. “Marketing Memo: Reinventing Marketing at Coca-Cola” describes some of the many different ways that that top marketing organization has changed.


Companies must always move forward, innovating products and services, staying in touch with customer needs, and seeking new advantages rather than relying on past strengths. India’s Hindustan Unilever asks all staff members— not just marketers—to obtain a “consumer license” to work on its brands, which requires spending 50 hours of face time with shoppers. As one senior executive noted, “Our consumers are moving faster than marketers do; whether in terms of rural or urban changes or the way they consume media and entertainment.”54 Moving forward especially means incorporating the Internet and digital efforts into marketing plans. Marketers must balance increased spending on search advertising, social media, e-mails, and text messages with appropriate spend­ing on traditional marketing communications. But they must do so in tough economic times, when accountability has become a top priority and returns on investment are expected from every marketing activity. The ideal is retaining win- Coca-Cola reinforces its message of happiness with special ning practices from the past while adding fresh approaches that reflect the new promotional “Hug Me” vending machines which dispense marketing realities.

2. MARKETING MEMO Reinventing Marketing at Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is fundamentally changing the way it does marketing, primarily by adding a strong digital component to its traditional marketing tools. The new model is based on moving consumers from impressions to expressions to conversations to transactions.

Coca-Cola defines consumer expressions as any level of engagement with brand content: a comment, “like,” or share on Facebook, a Tweet, or an uploaded photo or video. Coca-Cola strives to put strongly sharable pieces of communications online that will generate impressions but also lead to expres­sions from consumers who join or extend the communication storyline and ultimately buy the product.

These communications focus on the core themes of “happiness” and “optimism” that define the brand’s positioning. One successful application is the video of the “Hug Me” vending machine in Singapore that dispensed cans of Coke when people put their arms around it and hugged it. Within in a week, the video generated 112 million impressions.

Coca-Cola actively experiments, allocating 70 percent of its budget to activities it knows will work, 20 percent to improving those activities, and 10 percent to experimentation. The company accepts that experiments can fail but believes in taking chances to learn and develop better solutions. Even in its traditional advertising and promotion, it looks for innovation.

For instance, Coca-Cola places much importance on cultural leadership and causes that benefit others. The mission of its Artic Home project is to protect the habitat of polar bears—who have starred in animated form in its holiday ads for years. Committing $3 million to the World Wildlife Fund, Coca-Cola drew attention to the project by turning its traditional red cans white.

Sources: Joe Tripodi, “Coca-Cola Marketing Shifts from Impressions to Expressions,” Harvard Business Review, HBR Blog Network, April 27, 2011; Tim Nudd, “Coca-Cola Joins the Revolution in World Where the Mob Rules,” Adweek, June 19, 2012; Surajeet Das Gupta and Vivea Susan Pinto, “Q&A: Joseph Tripodi,” Business Standard, November 3, 2011; “Coca-Cola Sets Facebook Record,”, September 6, 2012.


Marketers are increasingly asked to justify their investments in financial and profitability terms, as well as in terms of building the brand and growing the customer base. Organizations recognize that much of their market value comes from intangible assets, particularly brands, customer base, employees, distributor and supplier relations, and intellectual capital. They are thus applying more metrics—brand equity, customer lifetime value, return on marketing investment (ROMI)—to understand and measure their marketing and business performance and a broader variety of financial measures to assess the direct and indirect value their marketing efforts create.


As the late David Packard of Hewlett-Packard observed, “Marketing is far too important to leave to the marketing department.” Increasingly, marketing is not done only by the marketing department; every employee has an impact on the customer. Marketers now must properly manage all possible touch points: store layouts, package designs, product functions, employee training, and shipping and logistics. To create a strong marketing organization, mar­keters must think like executives in other departments, and executives in other departments must think more like marketers. Interdepartmental teamwork that includes marketers is needed to manage key processes like production innovation, new-business development, customer acquisition and retention, and order fulfillment.

Source: Kotler Philip T., Keller Kevin Lane (2015), Marketing Management, Pearson; 15th Edition.

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