Written by Tomash Devenishek on July 11, 2012
in Brand Strategy

Too often there’s a gap between how brands envision the way their products are used and how consumers actually use them. What doesn’t happen often enough is a show of bravery by marketers to bridge such gaps by challenging a deeply entrenched corporate process.

For example, imagine that you are an average consumer in El Salvador, where the annual GDP per capita just hit $3,450, and then think about the kind of financial barrier  that a $0.10 deposit for a bottle of Coca-Cola® would be to you. That’s roughly a $1.50 equivalent in the U.S. and Canada. For just the bottle!

But consumers are less likely to abandon a brand if it meets them half way; they sometimes put their inventive hats on to solve the “gap” problem themselves.

In this case this gap was the deposit, which El Salvadorians started to bypass by taking their Coca-Cola “to-go”. That literally meant pouring the refreshing drink into a sandwich bag and leaving the bottle with the vendor. And even though our story could have ended there, the important takeaway is that someone at Coke realized this was happening and did something about it, creating the Coca-Cola bag.

Imagine the courage it took not only to recognize such a trend but also to embrace it. To say that facilitating “untraditional” sales of its products would be a challenge to a corporate process status-quo is no understatement. And most marketers know how “easy” it is to challenge such a grandfathered process as a pop being sold in the very container it was bottled in.

Finding an innovative solution that not only met consumers half way but ultimately removed an obvious financial barrier was brave, bold and is exactly the type of example more marketers should be aware of when thinking about the “gaps” of their products or brands. It is a demonstration of a truly modern brand realizing that its product – and that product’s consumption – is not something that is exclusively theirs to dictate anymore.

I now wonder about how many truly modern brands are out there? Brands that are flexible and adaptive, consistent yet spontaneous, and most importantly brands that get embraced and spread by its fans for the very reason that they possess those qualities.

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