Retailers have attacked Coca-Cola UK for its “confused and unsustainable” strategy, which has caused the soft drinks giant to lose its focus in the UK.
Insiders at Coca-Cola and retailers have also hit out at the company for taking “constantly changing leads” from the US despite it having its own marketing team in the UK.
A Coke GB insider admits that it is having a difficult year and that the strategy is “confused”. He says: “Things are really tough and we’re having to re-do all our brand forecasts.”
One retailer points out that earlier in the year Coke was still focusing on promoting Diet Coke as a unisex drink through the “Tortoise” campaign, which aimed to boost the brand’s masculine appeal. He adds: “In the UK, Coke had no idea that Coke Zero was going to be launched this summer. It was a global decision to bring it forward. Now we have to help Diet Coke realign towards women. There is a complete lack of focus or UK strategy.”
Another source adds that Coke has “an annual change in strategy” and that its lack of long-term plan confuses consumers. He adds that poor-selling “high-margin low-volume” brands such as energy drink Relentless, which was launched last February, have been forgotten as it refocuses on core brands such as Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.
The source says: “Drinks like Relentless and Powerade were always going to struggle. Relentless is an energy drink which tastes like Red Bull but in a 500ml non-resealable can and Powerade can’t compete against Lucozade. Coke’s new strategy seems to be to return to the carbonates and fruit carbonates like Fanta that are in decline, but how can that be sustainable?”