Since 1886, Coca Cola has been making the world a sweeter place. But in 2020, to be sweet and tasty is not enough. The world is no longer confined within the reassuring borders of a country. And so, for the better part of the past decade, globalization was the name of the game. But things have changed. As of today, there is no room for one-size-fits-all solutions. You can’t expect billions of consumers to agree on taste. The world is now glocal, and for a single product there may be hundreds of variations to suit the market where it’s sold.
Such is the case for Coca Cola. If you drank one different Coca Cola beverage every day, then it would take you 9 years to try every single one the company makes. There are more than 3,500 under 500 different brand names. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Coca Cola serves over 1.9 billion drinks per day across 200 different countries. For a company this big, glocalization is part and parcel of business culture.
How can you manage such a deeply varied range of products? That is question. The answer, it turns out, is not an army of marketing consultants. The world is too complex for the task. To find a way out of the maze, Coca Cola employs the most advanced technologies the market can offer.
That is: Artificial Intelligence algorithms.
Today, it’s all about the experience. “Artificial intelligence is the foundation for everything we do,” says the global director of digital innovation, Greg Chambers. “We create intelligent experiences. Artificial intelligence is the kernel that powers that experience.” To make the experience truly satisfying, Coca Cola takes advantage of artificial intelligence algorithms deployed across a network of over 2.8 million of vending machines worldwide. Big Data is the key.
On newer vending machines, the customer interacts through a touch-screen interface, allowing them to select the product they want and even pick a “shot” of different flavours to personalize the drink. The AI algorithms collect and elaborate the data to suggest a particular drink to the customer depending on previous choices they have made as well as local preferences and the context where the vending machine is located. For instance, a vending machine sited in a gym may suggest performance-oriented drinks, while one sited in a mall will orient towards a colorful experience.
In addition, Coca Cola employs AI to analyze social media and understand how, when, and where its customers consume its products. By doing so, not only does Coca Cola get a clear picture of its customers, but it is also able to include them in the picture when it comes to product development.
Last but not least, Coca Cola uses AI-powered Computer Vision software to empower their customer at the moment of purchase. As a matter of fact, customers have shown appreciation for the company’s loyalty and reward schemes over the years. Although, the procedure to verify the purchase, i.e. inserting a 14-digit product code printed on bottle caps into apps and website, was less than pleasant. In this regard, facial recognition comes in handy in securing proof of purchase.
Long story short, AI empowers the experience and by doing so, empowers the customer. An experience that does not simply vary depending on local taste, but it’s also customizable by the customer. It is not just glocal. It is personal.