Brand Audit: Coke Zero

Just under a year ago, Coca-Cola relaunched its zero-calorie cola variant, Coke Zero, with a campaign that aimed to attract a “new demographic” of young people through aspirational messaging.

Initially marketed in the UK as “bloke Coke”, the relaunch was an attempt to break away from the brand’s exclusive male-centred approach and soften the image of Coke Zero in order to reach women.

However, while the brand saw an initial rise in awareness and impressions for both women and men immediately after the relaunch, perceptions of Coke Zero have not changed a great deal despite the new messaging.

According to BrandIndex data from YouGov, the overall “Index” of the brand, based on a survey of consumers surrounding factors such as “Impression”, “Quality”, “Value”, “Reputation” and “Satisfaction”, is down 1.1 points year on year.

Immediately following the 13 January launch of the “Just Add Zero” campaign, “Buzz” surrounding the brand, which includes positive or negative messages consumers have heard through news, advertising or word of mouth, rose sharply among men and slowly among women, suggesting the brand was moving towards its goal of reaching female consumers. However, the increase in positive chatter was only temporary, with the total measure falling 0.2 points year on year.

Impressions of the brand also rose for both men and women immediately upon the launch, but have dropped 1.6 points year on year.

While changes in perception may have only been temporary, Coke Zero is seeing sales growth on the back end of the relaunch. Value sales are up 9.6% to £93.2m year on year to 8 Nov according to IRI data, with volume up 4.4% to 82.6 million.

Tim Eales of IRI told Marketing Week that lower prices at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 suggest there was heavy promotion prior to the relaunch.

“This appears to be a promotionally driven brand, which needs to be at a lower price point for sales to rocket,” Eales says.

Distribution has remained close to 90% since 2012 according to Eales, also suggesting that growth is stemming from consumer choice rather than increased product availability.

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