ATLANTA – Coca-Cola welcomed more than 100 investors to its global headquarters today to share its vision for becoming even more of a total beverage company. As part of today’s event, the first of its kind since 2009, investors had the chance to sample an international array of drinks in a range of categories tailored to evolving consumer tastes – from Coca-Cola Plus Coffee (Japan and Australia), to plant-based beverages like AdeS (Latin America and, soon, Europe), to ready-to-drink coffees like Georgia Cold Brew (Korea) and Barista Bros (Mexico), to innocent smoothies (Western Europe) and enhanced hydration offerings like vitaminwater active and Honest Sport (United States).
The company also showcased several equipment innovations, including cutting-edge coolers and dispensers, as well as creative e-commerce solutions that put the company’s brands within a “click’s reach of desire” and new sales and commercial execution technologies that support Coke's "total beverage company" vision.
Here a few of our favorite innovations we saw:
This years-in-the-making cooler turns a cold bottle of Coca-Cola, Sprite or another beverage into a slushy – in a second or two – through “precision chilling” technology developed in partnership with former NASA engineers. Coke is currently testing about 500 of the units across the U.S., primarily in convenience stores. Another prototype called Rapid Chill uses “reverse-microwave” technology to bring the sub-zero Arctic Coke experience to all products in a cooler (i.e., turning fairlife milk into a frothy milkshake in less than a minute). Learn more.
Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar
The company will pilot the first-ever Coca-Cola with no added sugar sweetened only with a sweetener derived from the stevia leaf. The great-tasting brand will roll out in the first half of 2018 in a to-be-announced market outside the United States.
Customized Beverage Technology
Taking cues from the popular Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain dispenser and Share a Coke e-commerce program – both of which tap into fans’ love for personalized products based on their individual tastes and preferences – Coke is building a solution to offer custom recipes in personalized packages shipped directly to a shopper’s doorstep via e-commerce.
Coca-Cola is shifting its focus on “route to market” to “route to me” to stay competitive in a landscape where e-commerce is reshaping the way people buy (and receive) orders of food and beverage items. The company is partnering with meal-kit provider Chef’d to pair Coke beverages with menu items and exploring ways to tack on beverage suggestions to orders placed via artificial intelligence (AI)-powered voice interaction services. Coke is also looking to give shoppers an easy way to add drinks to orders for pickup at e-grocery “lockers” found in dense urban areas and on college campuses.
Coke is bringing the Internet of Things to its global fleet of 16 million pieces of cold drink equipment to drive sales for both its system and its customers. For example, coolers are wired to track inventory and even correlate the number of times a shopper opens the door with sales. And proximity beacons can send tailored coupons or offers to nearby consumers with a Coke mobile app.
This “premium water fountain,” which emerged from a Shark Tank-style hackathon prototype, provides free, ultra-filtered water with the ability to add flavors and carbonation for a small per-ounce fee. The idea behind the innovative unit, which is being piloted on a university campus, emerged last summer during a two-day workshop hosted by Coca-Cola North America’s R&D team. DASANI PureFill is paired with a custom-built smartphone app, which lets users track their hydration and geo-locate a nearby machine, and a cashless payment system. Learn more.