Coca-Cola sees ‘lag’ as increased marketing spend fails to translate to revenue rise

Coca-Cola says its new strategy to boost sales through a focus on ‘incremental and better’ marketing, creating a more streamlined company and focusing on its core business is working despite a fall in revenues in the third quarter.

Coca-Cola masthead 13 3 15

In Europe, Coca-Cola’s revenues were down 7% to $1.3bn while operating loss widened by 4% to $722m in the three months to the end of September. That result was mirrored in its global business, where sales and profits also dropped.

Speaking on a conference call following the results announcement, CEO Muhtar Kent admitted that Coca-Cola is experiencing a “lag” between its investment in marketing and results. The aim over the past 12 months has been to get the business to mid single digit growth but he said over the past three quarters Coca-Cola’s results have been “at the bottom end of that range”.

“The past year has been one of significant streamlining and change. We are encouraged by our progress but know we need to do more,” he added.

Kent pointed to a significant increase in media investments this year following the appointment of its new CMO Marcus de Quinto that has helped boost sales of its flagship products. This focus on “incremental and better marketing” is, he said delivering top line growth.

“We are targeting disciplined brand and growth investments,” explained Kent. “We are improving the quality of our advertising while rewiring our organisation around consumer clusters to drive speed, efficiency and effectiveness.”

In Europe, sales of sparkling beverages were up by 2% while still beverages increased 12% in the quarter.

That included 9% volume growth for Coke Zero and 6% for Fanta, although this was partially offset by a 6% decline at Diet Coke. In still drinks, water, sports drinks and the Innocent brand also saw double-digit increases.

James Quincy, Coca-Cola’s newly appointed COO, said while the company benefitted from favourable weather in Europe there are also signs of a longer term trend of volume growth in the year to date along with a better price mix. Coca-Cola currently has a higher pricing point in Europe than the US but is being hit by the deflationary nature of the European market where local economics including the rise of discount stores is having an impact on price.

  • Coca-Cola Enterprise’s VP of digital sales and marketing is speaking at this year’s Festival of Marketing. Taking place on 11 and 12 November there will be 12 stages and hundreds of speakers. Click here for information and to book tickets.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here