Effie Case Study: Coca-Cola Share It Forward

More Information

  • Manufacturer: Coca-Cola Co.
  • Retail Partner: Walmart
  • Lead Agencies: Shopper Events; Collective Bias
  • Award: Gold, Single-Retailer Rollout

Summary: For the last 10 years, the carbonated soft drink category has been eroding sales to water and its new flavors, teas, energy drinks and sports beverages. Coca-Cola was not immune. In fact, the issue was compounded at Walmart, where messaging has historically been targeted to mom, while the new pop defectors are primarily Millennials.

Coca-Cola launched “Share It Forward” at Walmart to increase sales of 20-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola, and to do that the program engineered a way to urge shoppers to buy one bottle for themselves, and another bottle for friends and family. With this initiative, bottles of Coca-Cola products were personalized with proper names or one-word messages.

Millennials are a social group, so to them this became more than sharing a Coke. Further insights pointed to a segment that’s been raised by involved parents with constant feedback from peers. They’re human networks connected to devices, socially sensitive and inclusive. This was a campaign that emotionally resonated with them, which was key because teens and Millennials were aware of Coca-Cola products, they just weren’t drinking them.

Share It Forward’s strategy ramped up a four-week summer period, looking to grow immediate consumption by 8% and bring new excitement to Walmart. The program was executed in four parts:

  1. Stocked stores. At checkout, coolers were filled with bottles with proper names on them. Four-sided share bins were placed along Action Alley near self-checkout especially, where Millennials over-index. Lobby displays and floor clings filled out the store.
  2. Awareness drivers. Ryan Seacrest helped kick off the launch by spreading the word on his radio show. A Twitter party generated conversation three days before launch, prompting fans to share Coke stories, and it built up forthcoming store events. A free Walmart Facebook post also drove traffic to events.
  3. Walmart events. The in-store event team hit 3,200 Walmart stores with Coca-Cola gear and promoted the program. The teams were energized by a sales incentive contest for the most bottles sold.
  4. Continued sharing. Bloggers engaged Millennials online and introduced Share It Forward messaging and how they shared the beverages with friends and pointed shoppers toward Walmart. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest carried messages during every phase of the campaign.

Share It Forward far exceeded expectations, notably at Walmart where 20-ounce bottle growth was double that of all other large retailers combined during the month. Sales lift was projected to be more than 40% compared to the goal of 8%, and social impact exceeded benchmarks in engagements and impressions.