This week, we’re marking the 100th anniversary of the Coca-Cola bottle. What I love about this birthday is that it’s about more than celebrating the past – it’s really about what we see in the future.
Here’s what I mean. Coca-Cola is the foundation of our company, and Coke wouldn’t be Coke without the famous contour glass bottle. This package is an example of one of the greatest innovations not only in our company’s history but in the history of business.
The bottle is an inspiration to us today because it shows how listening to consumers was – and is – essential to our future.
The bottle was created in 1915 because we needed a way to differentiate Coca-Cola from imitators and would-be competitors in the soft drink business. Our brief to the designer was to develop a bottle that consumers would recognize in the dark or at the bottom of an icy cooler.
I never take this innovation for granted. Without it, would Coca-Cola be the global company it is today? Or would Ma Coca-Co – just one of many competitors at the time – instead rank among the most famous brand names in the world?
It’s a reminder that the future is far from certain. The world was changing in 1915, just as it is now. Coca-Cola was pretty successful already in 1915, but the new bottle helped vault the company to the next level.
The challenge today is adapting to an ever-changing environment. And Coca-Cola’s past success certainly doesn’t guarantee future success.
Our future relies on innovation, whether that means developing new products, investing in up-and-coming companies and brands or finding better ways to sell the products we already make.
What’s encouraging is that the long-term prospects for non-alcoholic beverages are so tremendous worldwide. Thanks to the great work of the past – including the creation of the Coca-Cola bottle – our business is in a strong position to adapt and grow.
Some of our future growth will surely come from our existing portfolio, which includes 20 brands with more than $1 billion in annual sales. I also have complete confidence that our list of billion-dollar brands will continue to grow.
I believe in the future of Coke itself, too. We know that consumer habits are changing in much of the world; they’re telling us that they love Coke but that many of them want the option of smaller packages.
Imagine this: The original Coca-Cola bottle stands out today as a package that is still perfect for consumers -- an ideal serving that refreshes and uplifts and often leaves us wanting just a little more. And that’s a big reason why, in the United States, 8-ounce glass bottles of Coke are among our fastest-growing offerings.
When I look at our glass bottle, I see something that’s timeless. It’s an example of an innovative idea that is innovative yet today. And that makes it well worth celebrating, today and every day.
Muhtar Kent is chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.