Coco-Cola Co. leverages ‘intelligent experimentation’ to land ‘epic’ innovation

Since the beginning of the pandemic, to streamline supply chains and maximize efficiency, Coca-Cola has taken an aggressive stance on “zombie brands” that weren’t performing at a level necessary in the “new normal,” including smaller local brands with little scale as well as better-known brands, including Odwalla, Zico and more recently Honest Tea.

While some of the brands that landed on the chopping block surprised industry players and investors, the strategic decisions freed resources at a time when a quickly evolving economy has elevated the importance of stretching every dollar.

Against this background, the company also is developing and testing new products, marketing strategies and more generally an approach to innovation that has brought it closer to consumers and delivered more bang for the buck, executives said last week at Duetsch Bank’s dbAccess Global Consumer Conference.

“The way we’re moving forward is we definitely want to invest more, but on the basis of really efficient and effective investment​,” said the company’s chief merchandising officer Manuel Arroyo.

To do that, he explained, Coca-Cola has cultivated a “very structural capability called [intelligent] experimentation,”​ which allows the company to test and quickly learn from carefully controlled and measured experiments and ultimately leverage them as a “super power.”

At any given time, he said, the company is testing between 200 and 400 experiments across the business and measuring their dollar investment to transaction or impact on the consumer at the point of sale.

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