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Brands with edge and insights have the right to win: CEO, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages

At the BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook Summit 2018 Christina Ruggiero, the CEO of Hindustan Coca-Cola shared her insights on brand building, on the insistence of brands having an edge and how real growth lies in franchise

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The Times Network presents BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook Summit 2018-19 powered by Adobe was marked by the key presence of Christina Ruggiero, Chief Executive Officer, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) who stole the show with her insightful keynote session on marketing.

Ruggiero started her session talking about leadership. "For me, leadership means that 442 promises are made every second. This promise is not only for hygiene, safety and quality but also for refreshments, hydration and experience. Experience is every single time you open my product and taste it whether it's a sparkling beverage or juice or water/tea/coffee. HCCB is some of the brands we are proud of also but also some of our cultures. We are passionate about our products and our business."

She added, "Technology has disrupted not just how we sell but also how we shop ourselves." Giving the example of Netflix, and on how it decides which shows she should watch, she underlined the importance of recommendations for consumers.

In this day and age, the brand building becomes more relevant. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline, much more than we ever used before. Data plays a key role in this and marketers should use it well, she insisted.

Ruggiero mentioned how companies have designations like Chief Growth Officers which is a marriage of marketing, commercial, innovation and tech. When it comes to Chief Marketing Officers she pointed out that it continues to evolve. She added, "CMOs have to be responsible for an integrated approach across marketing commercial digital technology in sales and become digitally proficient. This is because in order to be relevant we have to be connected digitally to the digital consumer. So even when we have data the question is what are we supposed to do with it?"

Nowadays, with the launch of Alexa and the likes, there is a shift towards transaction-led advertising. For instance, she explained when Alexa is asked for a Coke, Alexa buys it. "In this situation, we have already outsourced the shopper. In this society, we don't have time to be a shopper anymore."

Ruggiero went on to talk about differentiation and how their research shows that how brands with an actual edge and specific insights have the right to win. She underlined the need for brands to have the edge giving examples of brands she worked on in the US which had the edge over competition like Coke Zero, Honest Tea and pressed juice brand Simply Orange, each of which targets different consumer sets.

However, the edge disappears over time. That happens because the world changes. "What was different, special and unique about your products to the consumer changes and it's happening faster than we could ever imagine. We make sure we understand what brand set is," she added.

This obviously invites competition. The best way to deal with that is to find a new thing that's special and different and has more edge more than previous ones. "So we have to continuously invest because the edge is going to keep us competitive. This is a process because I want to be different all the time. Also, I have to be authentic," Ruggiero reiterated.

She mentioned how the company headquarter in Atlanta reserved all things marketing for the last 132 years. "We go through it and see what worked. I try to see how we continue to have an edge to be proud of our firm."

But is having the edge enough? "I need brand edge incorporated with brand equity, equity, activation and competitiveness." This ensures success. However, in the strive to be different one shouldn't forget the basics.  

She revealed that the company will continue to have different products across multiple portfolios for different people who have a different requirement. She assured, "Each of them (products) has to have their own edge, own purpose and a reason for being."

Ruggiero confessed that the company's obsessive segmentation is because India is a very complicated place. She explained, "When you get into the actual culture it's very different. The needs of the shoppers and consumers are very different. This is the reason why it's important to understand consumer down to the individual than going across the channels to where they actually shop. I encourage everybody to think about the power of franchise, data, segmentation and how we can continue to upgrade India to its full potential."

(By Madhuwanti Saha)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Madhuwanti Saha

The author is working in an editorial department with a leading media house

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