#ShareACoke and the Personalized Brand Experience

Jessie Deye
Marketing Insights
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Key Takeaways
  • ​Brands and retailers have an expansive trove of data to create simpler and more relevant shopping experiences for their customers. 
  • Coca-Cola's "Share A Coke" campaign fused the appeal of personalization with the accessibility, value and expansiveness of social media.
  • Personalization and social sharing proved to be a powerful combination for Coca-Cola this summer, as evidenced by the incredible sales growth and impressive social media reach.

Marketing today is full of personalization. Using data-driven insights, brands craft messaging—particularly across the digital ad stratosphere—that’s individualized to best reflect the interests and behaviors of their customers. As determined by prior shopping habits and browsing history, brands and retailers have an expansive trove of data to create simpler and more relevant shopping experiences for their customers. The Coca-Cola Co.’s “Share A Coke” campaign in the summer of 2014 offered a different version of a marketing strategy: unexpected personalization. 

There is something inherently exciting when you happen to find your name in a store with customized key chains, coffee mugs or ornaments—especially when it’s spelled correctly. “Share A Coke” captured this excitement, creating a personalized brand experience for Coca-Cola customers around the nation by printing individual names and phrases on Coke bottles and cans throughout the country. Fusing the appeal of personalization with the accessibility, value and expansiveness of social media, customers created experiences to share with the world. 

Coke had been in a steady 10-year sales decline, but this campaign helped pull the brand out of the slump. Leading up to the campaign launch, Coke’s year-over-year sales trend with the 20-ounce bottles were on par with Pepsi’s sales. Once the summer kicked off, Coke began producing bottles and cans with personalized names and phrases emblazoned across the labels. Shoppers, whether they were loyal, the occasional cola buyer or non-Coke drinkers, were intrigued and reached for their wallets. As early as the first week of the summer, Coke began its sales climb, out-performing Pepsi by a landslide: One week, the company posted sales growth above 30%. Equally impressive, the campaign helped Coke pull in a staggering 28% more customers compared to the same period in 2013. 

Akin to our excitement when we find a magnet on a turnstile display with our name on it, shoppers felt the same enthusiasm by purchasing their “personalized” bottles. Not only were people grabbing Cokes with their name on it, but many also bought bottles inscribed with the names of friends. Consumers started looking out for familiar names on the red bottles and snapped photos to share across social media, bringing the campaign to life. 

During the campaign cycle, Coke drinkers shared their personalized experiences more than 250,000 times with the hashtag #ShareACoke. These customers (and tweeters) hailed from all corners of the U.S. Texas and California posted more #ShareACoke tweets than any other region of the country, making up more than 25% of the total number of #ShareACoke tweets from the entire campaign. 

People were buying and tweeting their experiences, but more than anything, they were ambassadors for Coke’s marketing. As the number of people tweeting about the campaign climbed, so did Coke sales. By geo-tagging #ShareACoke tweets with their specific location of origin, a correlation between social sharing and sales uplift could be explored by precise geographic market. And, as it turns out, that correlation was significant. 

Each week of the campaign showed individual markets climbing in both #ShareACoke tweets and 20-ounce Coke sales. By the final campaign week, nearly all of the markets analyzed demonstrated positive year-over-year sales growth.

Personalization and social sharing proved to be a powerful combination for Coca-Cola this summer, as evidenced by the incredible sales growth and impressive social media reach. Is this profitable measure a strategy that other brands can incorporate into their marketing plans? Whether or not chicken patties or liquid detergent will be monogrammed isn’t the question, but rather, whether or not offering a new version of personalization creates a higher level of customer engagement, excitement and, ultimately, loyalty to your brand.


This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of the Marketing Insights e-newsletter.​


Author Bio:

 
Jessie Deye
Jessie Deye is associate director of brand consulting solutions at the Cincinnati office of London-based marketing research firm Dunnhumby.
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