Coca-Cola, Diageo, Vodafone: 5 things that mattered this week and why

A round-up of this week’s most important marketing news including the launch of Vodafone’s new youth-focused brand, Diageo’s struggles around direct selling and Camden Town Brewery’s first major brand campaign.


Coca-Cola speaks out against ecommerce separatism

Think ecommerce should be treated as a channel? Then Coca-Cola North America’s EVP Sandy Douglas is going to disagree with you.

Douglas says: “Don’t think of ecommerce as a channel. It’s a way for consumers to research, to buy, to experience brands and then, ultimately, to have them have fulfilled.”

In particular, he believes ecommerce has an image problem that needs tackling. He is irritated that so many marketers still believe only digital “pure players” such as Amazon can only truly achieve ecommerce success.

He explained: “We’re finding that our items are among the fastest selling of e-retailers. But remember also that when we think of e-commerce, we tend to think of the pure play guys. But as we’ve just recently seen, the clicks are looking for bricks and the bricks are looking for clicks.”

Douglas says Coca-Cola also wants to do more around click-and-collect and apps after being encouraged by the success of pizza delivery apps. His comments are important as they show food and drink brands see online as just as big of a selling opportunity as more traditional retailing.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola: ‘E-commerce should not be seen as a channel’

Diageo still searching for success in direct selling

However, if Coca-Cola is to launch a successful direct selling business, it might want to take some advice from Diageo on what not to do.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Diageo says it is yet to find an effective way to sell to consumers through its own online platforms, and has instead upped its focus on working with wholesale partners and retailers such as Ocado, Tesco and Amazon.

Diageo’s luxury online retail destination Alexander & James, which launched five years ago, shut down in January this year because it “wasn’t doing what it needed to do”, according to Charles Ireland, Diageo‘s general manager for Great Britain, Ireland and France.

“In terms of direct to consumer [selling], I think there are consumer goods companies that are doing it quite successfully, but we haven’t quite hit a successful formula yet and we’re continually working on it,” he explained.

When asked why Diageo is struggling to get consumers onto its ecommerce platforms, Ireland said while people might have more flexibility from a financial perspective, they are generally time poor and will therefore not necessarily seek out products on dedicated websites.

His comments show that even if the hunger is there from the likes of Coca-Cola to make a success out of ecommerce, the appetite among consumers is still debatable.

READ MORE: Diageo admits it has had ‘no successes’ in selling direct to consumers

Vodafone responds to critics of its millennial brand Voxi 

With the likes of Mark Ritson highly critical of sub-brands that are dedicated to young people, Vodafone’s Voxi launch has been getting a lot of attention from Marketing Week readers. However, Vodafone is confident it is onto a winner with Voxi, its new youth-orientated mobile network sub-brand.

Vodafone has already launched Yorn, a sub-brand dedicated to under-25s, in Portugal; something it claims has been “massively successful” and resulted in it growing to a 60% market share of this segment. And speaking to Marketing Week, Dan Lambrou, who is heading up the Voxi brand, says he’s confident Vodafone can see similar success in the UK.

“Within two to three years we want to be the leading operator among under-25s and to achieve this it made sense to launch a new brand as the main Vodafone brand tends to underscore among this audience,” he says.

“This audience is in unison when it comes to the way they use mobile phones. They are financially constrained, tired of being tied to contracts, spend most of their time messaging people on social media – so the plan is to address those

But is there a risk of stereotyping young people by placing them under a separate brand? “We are not trying to second guess what this audience is into or their passion points, our role here is about enabling the things they care about. Making life easier.”

Vodafone isn’t the only major business with a youth-only sub brand, with the likes of KLM and Air France doing something similar over recent years. If Voxi is a success, expect more UK brands to follow.

READ MORE: Vodafone insists it ‘isn’t stereotyping’ millennials by launching youth-only brand Voxi

Amazon makes first major marketing move into fashion 

Earlier this week, Amazon launched the first marketing campaign for its new own-label clothing brand Find.

The campaign will run in the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain across outdoor, digital and on Amazon’s own site. It aims to show the ecommerce giant has a “unique take” on current fashion trends and a “close eye on street styling”.

The campaign matters because it’s clearly coming right for the jugulars of Next and Asos, and could be crucial to turning the heads of shoppers.

However, you still sense even if Amazon nails the marketing for Find, it’s success will rely on how well it gets the customer experience for its burgeoning fashion division. And Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, believes Amazon still has some way to go on to match rivals such as Asos.

“Being part of an online ‘department store’ will benefit Find but too much choice can be stifling for consumers – a search for ‘black dress’ on Amazon, for example, still generates over 90,000 results. Amazon won’t want Find to get lost among the other brands and second-hand products on its website but at the same time the retailer can’t compromise existing relationships by undercutting the competition and overly prioritising its own wares,” he says.

“With some of its competitors able to take products from sketch to shop floor in a fortnight it will need to stay nimble if it wants to make a lasting impression.”

READ MORE: Amazon makes major move into fashion with first ad campaign for Find brand

Camden Town Brewery is tired of the craft beer tag

Camden Town Brewery

Have we hit peak craft beer? Well, Camden Town Brewery, which today (8 September) debuted its first above-the-line campaign since being acquired by beer behemoth AB InBev for £85m back in 2015, is attempting to “transcend” the craft beer tag.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Zoe Wulfsohn-Dunkley, head of creative at Camden Town Brewery, revealed her brand is eager to “transcend” the label.

She explained: “At its best, ‘craft beer’ as a term is a really useful way for consumers, retailers and brands to define the new wave of engaging brands and exciting flavoursome beers. At its worst, it can be a perceived as a buzzword and therefore might date quickly. The best brewers out there transcend the labelling of ‘craft beer’.”

Craft beer has become increasingly popular in recent years. While lager sales growth is largely flat, craft beer is growing rapidly. In fact, UK craft beer value sales grew 23% last year, according to CGA Strategy figures for the 12 months to April 2017.

Yet, Wulfsohn-Dunkley’s comments hint consumers are tiring of the ‘craft beer’ label and that it could be starting to lose some of its more mainstream cool. If this is true, the major brewers will be rubbing their hands together gleefully.

READ MORE: Camden Town Brewery on why it must ‘transcend’ its craft beer tag



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