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The Current: Coca-Cola bubbles over with retail media gains

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For the widely anticipated film release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever last November, Coca-Cola brand Sprite unleashed a branding bonanza for its Zero Sugar diet soda: banner ads and video display ads across retailers’ websites promoting the partnership, new packaging in retail stores, and QR codes on every can to bridge the physical and digital with an augmented reality (AR) “Hall of Zero Limits” experience.  

The effort is a prime example of the power of retail media because of what’s working seamlessly underneath all the creative: consumer data, the biggest draw for Coke. 

On top of Coca-Cola's ability to advertise across e-commerce sites and in store, the beverage giant’s partnerships with over 25 retail media networks — including Kroger, Target, Walmart, Amazon, DoorDash, and Instacart — enable it to tap in to shopper data. The Fortune 100 company is able to access data from search inquiries, banner ads, and cart orders, and layer that with shoppers’ purchase histories at tens of thousands of brick-and-mortar retail stores. Coke, which sells more than 200 brands on top of its famed Coca-Cola — including Powerade, Vitaminwater, and Dasani — can further layer that data across retail media networks, adding new efficiencies to the company’s ad campaigns.  

Since Coke started building out its retail media strategy in 2017, it has seen a major uptick in return on ad spend and incremental reach, as well as its ability to determine overlapping audiences within the 131.2 million households in the U.S across media. This approach has helped the company better pinpoint audiences in targeted channels like programmatic display, connected TV (CTV), and social media; adjust for ad frequency; and consolidate media buys, according to Katie Neil, connected commerce lead, North America, for The Coca-Cola Company.  

“Retail media networks know so intimately the behaviors of these consumers that their predictive models — their data — really helps us identify what are those right touchpoints when we are able to say, ‘This is a great time to remind you that there’s a Coca-Cola product for you,’” Neil tells The Current.  

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