Despite challenges in 2014,
“It comes down to the fact that we have the right strategies in place, and that our associates and bottling partners are very enthusiastic about what’s ahead,” he said.
Coca-Cola – along with many other companies that do business around the world – continues to face a highly volatile environment. While some factors are beyond the company’s control,
“There was no doubt we also needed to improve our own execution and take steps to accelerate our results,” Kent said.
Kent reiterated the strategic priorities that will guide the company in 2015. Reducing expenses in some areas is part of the equation, but trimming is not the main objective. “This is not solely a cost-cutting exercise,” he said. “It’s a set of well-planned, well-thought-out initiatives that actually underpin our core growth strategies.”
Coca-Cola is reinvesting in its brands, including a significant focus on robust marketing campaigns. “Underpinning our strong brand portfolio is the great marketing that has been – and will continue to be – at the heart of all we do,” Kent said. This year, the company will focus heavily on celebrating the 100th anniversary of the creation of the iconic Coke bottle.
The company is working to use its resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. “It’s in challenging times like these that companies with the fortitude to stay the course can actually enhance their leadership positions and generate stronger cash flows and significant value for decades to come,” Kent explained.
The company believes the fundamentals of the global beverage business are sound. Kent said growth in non-alcoholic, ready-to-drink beverages is closely connected to personal spending. More disposable income drives sales of more convenience and packaged goods. Macro trends are favorable, including more global urbanization and a growing middle class. The company expects the industry to grow by $300 billion between now and 2020.
Sparkling beverages have steadily grown value in emerging, developing and developed markets. “We see tremendous growth opportunity in both sparkling and other still categories,” Kent said. “This is why we remain confident – as the industry moves back to more historical growth trends, both sparkling and stills will benefit in similar ways.”
“We have the brands, we have the people to romance those brands, and we have an unparalleled global system that touches the entire planet,” he said.
Chief Financial Officer Kathy Waller also appeared at CAGNY. She said the company is taking steps to transform its business. “Change is never easy, but we are committed and confident that our actions will deliver results,” Waller said. “Our company has a legacy of adapting and evolving.”
Kent also focused on the challenges and opportunities ahead. “No doubt, we have a lot of heavy lifting to do, and I know this is not a task for the faint hearted,” he said. “The growth is out there; we know we are positioned to capture it.”