Coca-Cola’s journey to become a total beverage company starts with perspective, Chief Growth Officer Francisco Crespo said today at an industry conference hosted by trade publication Beverage Digest.

“We’re building an attitude that growth is in our hands,” Crespo said. “It’s about seeing the possibilities with fresh eyes, looking beyond our limitations and putting together the tools to seize the opportunities ahead.”

This starts with Coke’s namesake trademark, which is gaining global share and growing transactions and revenues in 2018 for the first time in several years, thanks in part to the success of new variants – from Diet Coke’s millennial-inspired flavors in the U.S. to Coca-Cola Plus Coffee Zero Sugar in Australia.

Crespo said he sees “tremendous opportunity” to grow the trademark’s global consumer base, noting that more than 4 billion people live in countries where 90 percent of the population do not drink Coca-Cola (yet).

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “But it requires a change in mindset. It’s about investing in growth to recruit more consumers, develop more rituals, and capture more revenues.”

The company’s approach to driving “disciplined growth,” Crespo explained, focuses on driving “quality leadership” across its global beverage portfolio by building and scaling brands that fall into three categories – explorers, challengers and leaders – each with different “job descriptions.” Explorer brands must deliver exponential growth, challengers must grow share, and leader brands are tasked with recruiting new consumers and driving transactions.

Fewer than one in 10 explorer brands graduate to the challenger rung, so agility and calculated risk-taking are important, Crespo said. In 2018, the company has boosted its experiments in new products, eCommerce capabilities, digital marketing innovations and more by 17 percent.

The company also has delisted 520 underperforming “zombie” brands that accounted for less than 0.1 percent of its global volume. Coca-Cola is taking a similarly aggressive approach in the digital realm by retiring redundant or outdated websites and mobile apps.

“That energy is now being invested in getting explorer brands,” Crespo said, adding that explorer brands are growing five times faster than they were a year ago, and that the company’s portfolio of challenger brands has doubled.

“We’re on a path of discipline, of understanding what consumers really want, and finding better ways to create better products, better content and better services to gain quality leadership positions in more categories and occasions,” he said.

Exploring and challenging requires patiently building “edge” – qualities that differentiate a brand from the competition and meet unmet needs or tastes – and connecting elements like proprietary packaging, segmented routes-to-market strategies and digital storytelling that “come together to represent in the consumer’s eyes the value we’re promising,” Crespo said, citing category-defining brands like fairlife, BODYARMOR and innocent as successful case studies.

“Consumers are not willing to chase products anymore,” he said. “They want products to chase them. They want it to be seamless and easily.

“Disruption is here. And we’re embracing it because we feel that in disruption there are opportunities … we’re experimenting to reinvent our business to be even stronger.”