Coca-Cola President and CEO James Quincey said the company is positioned for “disciplined growth” thanks to a newly refranchised bottling system and an expanding portfolio of consumer-centric beverages.
“We've got a clear destination,” Quincey said Tuesday at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference in Florida. “We're going to be a total beverage company.”
In 2017, the company achieved or exceeded its projections for revenue and profit during a year of transition and is poised to deliver even stronger results this year, Quincey said, citing the divestiture of company-owned bottling businesses and a refined focus on revenue growth management via smaller packaging and premium brands.
“We’re at an inflection point, because the underlying and enduring strength of the business is now going to become more visible in the numbers and to our shareholders,” he said.
Coca-Cola also is building on a strong foundation of share leadership in a range of beverage categories – from sparkling to hydration to ready-to-drink teas and coffees – and a “pervasive and diverse” distribution system.
The company continues to push the innovation envelope, with more than 500 new product launches in 2017. These include new flavors and ingredients, and efforts to extend existing brands into new categories.
“We're very clear that we have to start with the consumer and drive our portfolio of brands to be ever more consumer centric,” Quincey said, calling out the international rollout of Coke Zero Sugar. “If the consumer moves, we must, too.”
Following the consumer also includes embracing the eCommerce revolution. “Consumers are changing the way they shop, in very fundamental ways,” Quincey said. “The digitization of the whole experience is ongoing… and we need to participate in a very different way. Said in the simplest terms, it’s about finding a way to reconstruct in the virtual world those imperatives that have existed for so long in the physical world, at which the Coke system has been very effective executing against.”
Value Over Volume
A focus on smaller packages is driving the company’s journey to become “more value orientated than volume orientated” through a focus on growing transactions, Quincey said.
“This fits very nicely with our approach on helping people consume the right amount of sugar,” he said. “There's an intersection of many of the challenges we face and many of the opportunities we can take advantage of if we focus on smaller packages.”
Coke is also accelerating its investment in premium brands, like Topo Chico (in the United States) and ViO Schorle (in Germany) sparkling mineral waters, and the Schweppes 1783 line of upscale mixers in the U.K.
Lift and Shift
The company is also scaling successful brands from market to market, including the AdeS line of soy-based beverages, which is expanding from Latin America to Europe. “We’re adapting the formulas, the tastes and the benefits of the drinks, to each continent's local realities,” Quincey said.
“I think what you see now is a much greater sense that we can move products around the world," he continued. "The strength of the company over time will be the ability to source ideas from any part of the world and have them travel.”
Bolt-on acquisitions like the innocent line of premium smoothies and chilled juices in the U.K. and Jugos del Valle juices in Latin America have enabled the company to enter adjacent categories and grow these brands through investment and innovation.
The company's growth agenda is being fueled by an entrepreneurial culture with an experimental, “test-and-learn” mindset, Quincey said. A leaner, asset-light operating model created post-refranchising frees up the company to focus on building brands and empowers the more than 250 Coca-Cola bottlers around the world to execute more effectively in the marketplace.
“We’ve created an even more well-capitalized, well-motivated, highly capable system of bottlers,” Quincey said. “And that intersection with our switch from the company side to being even more revenue-orientated than volume-oriented is creating a more effective virtuous circle between ourselves and the bottlers to drive impact to the system.”