Coke’s marketing efforts have always been legendary. Ever since the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign launched in the U.S., the decade-long decline in Coke consumption in the U.S. was reversed. An increase of 2% in sales was observed when the world’s most famous beverage company started labeling bottles with names of individuals.

The idea was born in the brand’s Australia office. Agencies were given a brief to develop a truly disruptive idea that would make headlines and capture the country’s attention. Their research showed that while the young adult population loved Coke, the brand wasn’t connecting with them at a personal level. Based on this research, the idea was to strengthen to the bond with Australia’s young adults, while inspiring shared moments of happiness, both online and offline. Thus came about the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, launched in the summer of 2011 in Australia. Coke swapped out its iconic logo on its bottle with some of the most common names in Australia.

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It worked!

More than 250 million bottles were sold that summer in Australia in a country of less than 23 million people. The Australian leg saw an increase of 7% in Coke consumption. By the summer of 2015, the campaign was rolled out across 70 countries. Worldwide, the company saw a 2.5% increase in sales and production volume went up by 0.4%.

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The campaign proved to be wildly successful and can be attributed to the approach taken by Coca-Cola. The gift-giving dynamic increased the shareability and purchase of the product. Being such an iconic brand, consumers were thrilled to see their names on the bottles. Social Media played an enormous part in increasing the reach. Consumers were encouraged to share their bottles online using #ShareACoke. Seeing peers and friends share, others started taking part. Coca-Cola then took the campaign beyond just customizing bottles. Interactive Billboards were used extensively, while travelling kiosks were employed too. The campaign was employed across every possible medium and resulted in an enormous success!

Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign gives marketers two important lessons.

Coca-Cola’s research showed that the millennial audience didn’t connect with the brand at an eye level. Coca-Cola used the campaign as a way of reaching teens and millennials, and were wildly successful at doing so. Instead of wasting millions of dollars on an un-researched advertising strategy, they understood their target market and developed a campaign catering to that. Research formed the heart of the campaign!

Connecting with the audience at an eye-to-eye level is a key to succeeding in today’s marketing world. With so much advertising clutter, it’s hard for brands to create that experience. To stand out, consumers need to feel that they’re being talked to individually. Coca-Cola printing personalized bottles with names on it made consumers feel loved and appreciated. Coca-Cola’s aim from the beginning was to connect with the audience, and they did so with resounding success!

A simple and small change to the marketing strategy based on deep consumer insight had a huge impact. Personalization plays a key role in touching the audience’s hearts, and Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign is true testament to that.