Diet Coke, TfL, Unilever: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all this week’s marketing news including Diet Coke sales overtaking classic Coke, Compare the Market’s loyalty push and TfL’s £500,000 diversity competition.

Diet Coke overhaul

Coca-Cola weathers the initial sugar tax storm

Coca-Cola’s big push on its Diet Coke variant has been an initial success, with value sales of the lower-sugar variant overtaking classic Coke just weeks after the sugar tax came into effect. The tax meant the cost of a 300ml can of Coca-Cola increased by 8p, and the rise has led to volume sales falling from 9 million litres per week at the end of February to a low of 6.7 million litres for the week ending 14 April, according to figures from IRI.

However, Coca-Cola‘s decision not to reduce the sugar in classic Coke and instead focus on its Diet and Zero variants appears to have paid off. While volume sales of classic Coke decreased, value sales have slowly increased as the rise in cost offset the decline in the amount of Coke people bought. And at the same time both volume and value sales of Diet Coke have increased, helped by a product relaunch and £10m marketing campaign.

The figures show Coca-Cola’s initial move to offset the impacts of the sugar tax have paid off. But the company faces a mounting challenge as consumers move away from fizzy drinks to healthier alternatives, and choice increases as products such as flavoured waters and teas become increasingly popular. Navigating those shifts will be key for Coca-Cola going forward.

READ MORE: Diet Coke sales overtake classic Coke as the soft drinks giant navigates the sugar tax

Compare the Market looks for loyalty in a promiscuous market

It might seem ironic that Compare the Market, a price comparison site that actively encourages people to shop around to get the best deal on services ranging from gas suppliers to home insurance, is worried about loyalty. But in a hugely competitive market where shouting the loudest is often the key to success, the company knows it needs to do more.

Recognising this, three years ago Compare the Market took over Odeon’s two-for-one offer on cinema tickets on Wednesdays from Orange, rebranding it as Meerkat Movies. And now it is making a further move, partnering with Tastecard to launch Meerkat Meals, which offers customers two-for-one meals at a whole host of restaurants across the UK.

The hope, of course, is that when people come to renew financial products they will use Compare the Market to compare prices, rather than one of its rivals, and keep coming back year after year. Yet as the brand knows only too well, when the focus has been put on price it is hard to shift the conversation to other areas of service.

READ MORE: Compare the Market looks to drive longer-term loyalty with Meerkat Meals launch

TfL wants brands to better reflect women in advertising

In a drive to make advertising on the capital’s transport network better reflect the people that use it, Transport for London (TfL) and City Hall have launched a competition for brands to do just that.

In a similar vein to Channel 4’s annual diversity award, TfL is offering £500,000 worth of ad space via Exterion Media and JCDecaux to the winning campaign.

The move follows research which shows Londoners don’t think the women they see in advertising are representative of the women they see in the capital. Half don’t think their body shape is reflected and 68% say women tend to be shown in revealing clothing when it isn’t relevant.

It’s disappointing that brands and agencies still appear to need financial incentives to come up with ad campaigns that better reflect the UK population. Yet here we are. And so TfL’s move is a welcome step, particularly if it can help embed gender equality throughout advertising in the capital. It will also hopefully have a ripple effect throughout other cities.

The fact TfL is also offering £50,000 of digital advertising to two runners-up shows its commitment to the cause.

However, while better representation of women is clearly important, perhaps more pressing is the lack of cultural diversity in advertising throughout the city. TfL’s research shows just 22% of Londoners think ads reflect the cultural diversity of the city, so this needs to be addressed too.

READ MORE: TfL offers brands £500,000 of free ad space to give women the ‘representation they deserve’

Unilever hopes to take learnings from Dollar Shave Club to drive direct-to-consumer business

dollar shave club

Unilever aims to target more shoppers directly with premium products as it looks to build a bigger direct-to-consumer offer. Currently, these sales account for around 5% of its business, but there are hopes to double that.

Speaking on an analyst call, CEO Paul Polman said: “We’ve learnt a lot from Dollar Shave Club. We’ve been able to take that knowledge and expand it to other parts of the business like our premium tea business, T2.”

Ecommerce, key to reaching consumers directly, is growing at a rate of between 60% and 70% at Unilever, he claimed, well ahead of the market where growth is between 30% and 40%.

Unilever’s move follows others in the FMCG market as they look to take more control of their data and get closer to the consumer. There are a couple of reasons why this is necessary.

The supermarkets are increasing their focus on own-range and looking to drive down prices of branded goods by increasing their buying power – Tesco has struck a deal with Carrefour, and Sainsbury’s is merging with Asda for just this reason. Plus there are new startups coming into the market that have a direct relationship with consumers and are quickly gaining customers and market share.

READ MORE: Unilever and the threat of direct-to-consumer

Heineken’s Birra Moretti urges consumers to slow down

beer

It takes three things to scale a beer brand, according to Birra Moretti’s brand manager Mark Noble – TV, experiential marketing and digital.

Noble says the team has nurtured and cared for the brand by doing things the “right way” leading to Birra Moretti’s TV debut, which he describes as the “final piece of the jigsaw”.

“I look at it like building a house so you can do all the fancy exteriors and interiors but unless you’ve got your foundation right it’s not going to be a good house,” he says.

The campaign draws on a piece of research conducted by Birra Moretti’s parent company Heineken which found consumers enjoy their busy lifestyles and have no plans of slowing down any time soon, which means the people closest to them can often suffer from thei hectic schedule.

“We found people said, ‘I don’t want to be any less busy because I enjoy my life but there are casualties to that’. So it’s never your boss or the girl you fancy but it’s actually the people closest to you who will suffer from your busy schedule, because you think your parents will always forgive you if you cancel,” he says.

The TV spot is about encouraging consumers to make time for those important relationships. It will be interesting what impact the move to TV has on the brand and if it helps to scale growth at the desired rate.

READ MORE: Heineken’s Birra Moretti on why its first TV ad is the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’

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