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'Inspirational Yet Operational'

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Joseph V Tripodi, Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer of The Coca-Cola Company began proceedings on Day Two of AdAsia 2011 with a request to the audience to watch and balance between relevance and not try too hard to be seen as cool. After all, heritage brands like Coca-Cola have a mix of different age groups of consumers.

Tripodi's message to an audience of 1,200 advertising and marketing executives: "Chase teens but also go after the adults." One of the most neglected audience in marketing is the 50-plus age group. And they are the people with money to spend.

But that's not the only contrast that marketers have to grapple with. Other contrasts they deal with include, chasing consumption On The Go, while also attempting to increase At Home consumption; chasing modern trade as well as traditional trade. Then, especially in developing and emerging markets, they have to tackle obesity but also fight malnutrition as the Cola companies in particular can use their distribution strengths to penetrate deep into the interiors of every market they operate in. Hence the role of marketers is to be inspirational yet operational, Tripodi said.

He warned that as consumer engagement is changing rapidly from the "spray and pray" models of the past to an inter-connected co-creation approach with consumers, navigating the new world of digitisation would be different as the content gets scale with social networks, spreads in real time and consumers get ahead of companies.

He said that in such a dynamic environment, large companies tend to be very conservative, but companies like his were trying to find a way out.

He said that the Coca-Cola company put 70 per cent of its investments on what works traditionally, 20 per cent to innovate on the 70 per cent and the remaining 10 per cent to innovate and stay ahead of the times. He quoted the Coke Studio attempt to create fusion music in association with music channels as one example of that.

Tripodi also said that India remains a strategic market for the brand along with China and Brazil. The brand saw a 17-18 per cent growth in the last quarter, the company has also has seen 21 consecutive quarters of growth in the country. To ensure growth in a market like India, where coke's per capita consumption remains relatively low,  the brand wants to ensure both availability, affordability and enhanced manufacturing of products in the urban and rural markets.