Thursday, June 16, 2011
communication, Coca Cola and the future
At Church Hill, we have a new communications group. I sat in on their last meeting. One of the primary goals that was mentioned in our winter focus groups is to attract more young families from the community and this group is working on that goal.
Shortly after that meeting, I was in another gathering, where I heard for the 10th or 100th or 1000th time, “it’s just not like it used to be. People just aren’t interested in church anymore. People are too busy. They just don’t care.” Followed by a big sigh and shrug of the shoulders.
And for some reason, I thought about soda. Coke, to be specific. And here’s what I thought:
When Coca Cola noticed that sales of one particular product have fallen off, and the company’s profits were not as rosy as they used to be, and share holders were getting worried, do you think that people at Coke were hanging around their cubicles saying things like: “What’s wrong with people these days? Don’t they know how delicious this is? Don’t they know what a great product it is? I love it just the way it is. Remember when everybody drank Coke? There are just so many competing products. What can we do?” Followed by a big sigh and shrug of the shoulders.
I guarantee you that this did not happen at the corporate offices of Coca Cola.
Wishful thinking and blaming consumers is not part of their strategy.
Instead, people at coke began to ask questions:
How have people’s beverage drinking habits changed? Why have they changed?
Do they prefer a different kind of flavor? Is the bottle/can too big, too small?
What kinds of beverages are becoming more popular? What will they want to drink tomorrow?
They did research. Then they asked themselves:
Do we need to change our formulas? Do we need to change our marketing strategy?
What can we do to bring consumers back to Coke products?
In other words, how do we need to change to accommodate these new realities?
And then, and here’s the pivotal point: they actually made the changes.
The people at Coke did not blame themselves or others.
They did not feel sorry for themselves. They did not give up.
They saw a need to take action and they did.
I don’t know what exactly was needed to make the changes. Retrofitting old plants? Building new ones? Changing personnel? Different management strategies?
The point it, they did what needed to be done so that no one today is saying, “Coke. I remember that. My parents used to drink it when I was kid.”
So that’s my parable. As Jesus used to say, “let those who have ears, hear.”