Coca Cola's White Christmas Cans - It Came, It Confused and It got Canned!
From WSJ.com - Coca-Cola Co. is switching back to its time-honored red just one month after rolling out its flagship cola in a snow-white can for the holidays. New seasonal cans in red will start shipping by next week, as white cans—initially expected to be in stores through February—make an exit (Full Story: WSJ)
1. Packaging is a great marketing tool: Coca cola sells about 1.7 Bn serving a day - that is roughly 1 .7 Bn impressions , in Internet parlance, in front of consumer via packaging. If used effectively, 1 Bn impression may translate a lot into repeat purchase. Makes sense for an e-commerce company to use packaging more effectively in building a great impression in consumer's mind.
One case which we know is already leveraging the packaging for building brand in India is UrbanTouch.com. They send orders in a sturdy black box which can be used over and again! A quick search for "Urban Touch Black Box" shows some really cool and creative ways, consumers use the packaging. Other companies who are probably doing it right are: Myntra.com and Zovi.com.
2. Changes should be customer-centric - Coca Cola made changes which, in our opinion, had the right intentions: "Depicting family time together in winters and conveying fun" or" Creating awareness of Polar bears". They apparently donate 3 Mn USD for polar bears' habitat in Arctic Circle. But do consumers really want that?
Consumer speak (Source)
This is an ad campaign that could have gone horribly wrong for me and my husband. My husband was driving home late one night after working a 10 hour day. It was the end of the day. We were talking on the phone, and he told me he was very thirsty, so he was going to go grab a Diet Coke to drink on the way home. He went to his favorite store, grabbed a can from the shelf where they normally keep the Diet Coke, paid for it, left the store, and started home. He popped open the coke and took a big swig only to find that it was not Diet Coke, but regualar coke. This would not be a terrible problem for most people, but my husband is diabetic. There are 39 grams of sugar in every serving of regular coke. It is a wonder that my husband made it home. What a nasty way for Coke to say, "Hey, look at us." They certainly did get what they asked for. I feel that this was irresponsible advertising, and Coke should apologize to its consumers.
Startups - here is a great learning for you, when you are thinking of launching something new- Start with "How would I sell this?", but - "How can I make things easy for consumer to buy". The difference in the approach.
Zomato.com, Cleartrip.com and Flipkart.com has got things right to some aspects. Finding, identifying and buying the product becomes easy with the a great app for phone , a great (clean) website interface and a great customer service, helps customers to interact and thereby make buying decisions, conveniently!
3. Identify how you would talk to customers and ensure that consistently! : Coca Cola forever has been red. They spend atleast 2.5 USD Bn in advertising and most of this communication ends up with Red coca cola! Why white then? Could have played on the objective while retaining the classic red color anyways.
This is even important for start-ups in India. When offering is same across all the portals, signs and language become critical propositions in what you want the consumer to think about you. In other words, what is [Your Brand] to them?
Remember, in school, your best friend was the person who you can talk anytime for anything? You were sure he would listen to you and help you. That should be criterion in creating customers as well.
Unfortunately, Indian startups have not created such brand but one brand which comes in our mind for this is Zappos.com. Their customers are their brand ambassadors - right from policies which ensure customers feel at home to ensuring customers are helped and talked to whenever for whatever they want.
Other start-ups (not counting Flipkart.com for it is the most obvious one :)) , which we believe are on the right track in giving a great customer experience:
Do you have any other Indian start-up, you believe is doing something big for building a great brand? Do send us a tip about them.