Coca-Cola’s investment in a sophisticated sports drink dispenser powered by a digital platform is paying off
What did Coca-Cola have to do with LSU’s national championship win? Is it possible that what helped the Louisiana State University Tigers beat Clemson’s football team in 2020 was “Tiger Juice” — a sports drink from Coke’s “Powerade Command Center” — personalized to the needs of each athlete? The jury is still out.
What’s undisputed, however, is that Coca-Cola’s investment in a sophisticated sports drink dispenser powered by a digital platform is paying off. “It allows Coke to collect the consumer data required for marketing and to create value through personalization,” says Darden Professor Raj Venkatesan, an expert in customer relationship management, mobile marketing, and marketing metrics and analytics. “It also helps drive innovation and growth.” Venkatesan leads the Digital Marketing Innovation Executive Education program at Darden.
Marketing’s post-digital age
Leveraging AI in Marketing
Delivering deeply personalized customer experiences, says Venkatesan, requires a significant shift to AI-powered marketing. Venkatesan and Lecinski believe their AI Marketing Canvas can guide marketers through that process. Their approach describes the following five stages, which are the product of research of brands that have successfully leveraged AI in marketing:
Coca-Cola’s Road to Monetization
The first stage of The AI Marketing Canvas is about building digital infrastructure in order to collect first-party data across the business. “Most traditional brands go through a retailer to get data,” says Venkatesan. “Coca-Cola invested in making their vending machines intelligent [in order] to go around the retailers and directly learn about what consumers want.”
“Tiger Juice” and the Powerade Command Center
Building on the learning from Freestyle, Coca-Cola was ready to tackle a bigger challenge: personalized hydration to boost athletic performance with the Powerade Command Center. The high-tech drink dispenser takes measurements from multiple sensors to determine an athlete’s hydration level and deficiencies, feeding that data to a cloud-based platform where trainers determine each athlete’s hydration requirements. Athletes can then add their taste preferences to generate unique Powerade formulas.
[This article has been reproduced with permission from University Of Virginia’s Darden School Of Business. This piece originally appeared on Darden Ideas to Action.]