Soda Diplomacy: How Coca-Cola Speaks the Language of Every Region


Allene Yue

In Las Vegas, CA, tourists from all around the country line up outside the doors of the Coca-Cola Factory right before it opens. Why? To try Coca-Cola’s ATW (Around the World) Tray. On each ATW Tray, customers get to taste a cup each of the various flavors of Coca-Cola offered in different countries across the world. What makes it so special is that each country’s Coca-Cola drink has a distinct flavor catered to the tastes, preferences, and sometimes even the traditions of the people living there. But why is this effective?

Product Segmentation

Ok, now we know Coca-Cola changes their flavor offerings depending on the country they’re selling in — so what?

As you may have already known, Coca-Cola was founded in America, where it was originally catered to the tastes of — you guessed it — Americans. But they recognized this meant other countries wouldn’t necessarily receive their brand in the same way. But we have to remember that the original Coca-Cola recipe is what makes Coke, Coke. So, instead of completely changing their core recipe for each country, they varied the selection of flavors alongside their core Coca-Cola drink.

In China, for example, Suan Mei Tang is a traditional sour plum tea that has been a part of their culture for over a thousand years. So taking this into account, Coca-Cola launched an exclusive beverage to China called Smart Sour Plum which mimicked that same sweet yet tart flavor. Similarly, in India, where traditional dishes typically incorporate unique and powerful spices, Coca-Cola introduced another new version of their coke with a spicy kick.

These efforts helped them go from an American brand, to a global brand.

Marketing Segmentation

But product differentiation isn’t the only way Coca-Cola has been able to master geographic segmentation. Let’s look at a viral campaign they launched specifically in Pakistan and India.

In both nations, Coca-Cola spread out a few vending machines. One machine in India was connected to another machine in Pakistan, and every time a customer from both sides completed a shared task together, they’d both get dispensed a free coke. Even better, there was a live webcam on each vending machine which showed both customers the person on the other side, with the intention to help build a short human connection.

What was the point of this? Coca-Cola wanted to use these “Small World Machines” to encourage both sides to put differences aside for a moment and share a slice of happiness. And it was a huge, creative success!


Now, your brand may not be as huge as Coca-Cola’s just yet, but their attempts at segmentation give immense insight into what works well for companies in general.

Ecommerce is more popular than ever these days, and because this means your product is going out to a wider audience, it’s even more important now to make sure you know the different sectors of your audience very well. Selling to people living in a different part of the country, or even just a different part of the state, may mean you need to change up your marketing efforts or your highlighted product.

And Cotera can help! We help you break down data about your customers who may come from different backgrounds, areas, or who encompass different behaviors, and help you generate insights so that you can better personalize your marketing messages.

Coca-Cola is clearly a large company, so their marketing segmentation strategy was executed on a larger scale. But even smaller segmentation efforts can make a huge difference for your company in both the short and long run.

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