Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Coca-Cola Aims to Right Wrongs

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Coca-Cola Aims to Right Wrongs

Article excerpt

The spectre of Dasani must be shucked off as the company re-enters the UK water market, writes Jemima Bokaie.

If ever there were a clear-cut opportunity to prove that a brand can learn by its mistakes, Coca-Cola's second attempt to muscle in on the lucrative European water market with the roll-out of Belgian brand Chaudfontaine is it.

The company has a challenge on its hands. The sector is dominated by established French players such as Danone's Evian. More-over, Coca-Cola is still smarting from its first, catastrophic attempt to break into the UK market with the introduction of its US brand Dasani three years ago Then, the company was forced to beat a hasty retreat having received a roasting from consumers and press alike when the fact that Dasani was no more than purified tap water from Sidcup emerged. In addition, the product was found to contain traces of bromate, a potential carcinogen.

For its latest foray, Coca-Cola has again opted to roll out an existing brand, but this time it is a spring water. It has been drawn in by a market that reached a value of pounds 643m in the UK last year, accounting for 20% of the soft-drinks sector by volume, according to Britvic. In other European countries, water's volume share sits at more than 50%, suggesting there is clear room for growth on these shores.

Coca-Cola is not the only firm desperate to tap into this potential. Over the past 12 months Britvic has launched two water brands: Robinsons Fruit Shoot H2O, aimed at children, and youth brand Drench. These joined its existing on-trade brand, Pennine Spring, which it revamped.

The results for Britvic have not been spectacular. Although there are no official sales figures, insiders claim Drench has failed to provide the hoped-for returns. They point to the fact that Britvic is already repackaging the brand to boost sales, and the drinks company's marketing director, Andrew Marsden, has admitted that growth has been slow.

If Coca-Cola wants to avoid a similarly disappointing performance for Chaudfontaine, it must focus on the brand's provenance and authenticity, according to David Goudge, managing director of agency Brand Development. 'Coca-Cola needs to anticipate that consumers will question its credibility after the Dasani fiasco,' he says.

Many industry experts agree that Chaudfontaine needs to establish a point of difference as other water brands have done; Evian, for instance, has created an association with health and beauty through its mineral-water face spray. …

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