The campaign addressed in this case study is Coca Cola’s recent marketing campaign under the title ‘Share a Coke.’ According to researchers and analysts, it was one of the company’s most successful marketing campaigns (Weatherford, 2019). The premises of the campaign were to incorporate conventional advertising with digital marketing through social media and web-based promotion. Over “125,000 social media posts referenced the “Share A Coke” campaign between June and July of 2014, and 12% of online conversations about Coca-Cola in that time can be attributed to the campaign” (WebFX Team, n. d., para. 4). The campaign was also successful due to the increase in Google Trends rates and overall improved brand recognition that led to growth in sales. Through the appeal to personal involvement with the brand using millennials’ endorsement, and posting names on the Coca Cola bottles and cans, the company managed to market its product to the target population. The campaign will be analyzed within the framework of such perspectives of marketing psychology as digital marketing, opinion, leadership, fashion, and motivation and personality using the theoretical routes of influence and persuasion.
The ‘Share a Coke’ Campaign Analysis
The introduced campaign launched by the Coca Cola Company in the USA and later around the world was a successful marketing initiative based on the company’s effective use of the principles of marketing psychology. The slogan encouraging people to share a coke with their family and friends aimed to engage the social values of consumers with the promoted values of the company (Kahle & Xie, 2018; Weatherford, 2019). The psychological principles utilized in this marketing campaign allowed for connecting the brand’s product to the target audience of young adults, establishing a new popular trend, and motivating consumers to buy Coca Cola beverages.
Marketing Psychology Perspectives
Given the campaign’s success, it is relevant to identify some of the most evident marketing psychology perspectives that contributed to the positive outcomes of the company’s initiative. In particular, the adherence to digital marketing as the basic means of information exchange for the target audience, as well as opinion leadership and fashion perspective and the motivation and personality approach, were essential. These three perspectives will be analyzed in detail in this section of the case study.
The popularization of social media across all population groups of consumers in general, and the target audience of young adults in particular, was a significant campaign facilitator. The company marketing department managed to embrace the opportunities presented by social media and the Internet to pursue a digital marketing campaign alongside conventional advertising. Indeed, while Coca Cola bottles’ images and video advertisements appeared on city boards, busses, television screens, radio, magazines, and other means, the use of social media platforms was most effective (Weatherford, 2019; WebFX Team, n. d.). Such platforms as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and others are essential for communication and socialization for contemporary young adults. They identify their personalities via their online presence, which is why they promote virtual bottles of Coke and share messages on social media (Weatherford, 2019). People actively posted images of Coke bottles with their names on them online, thus identifying themselves through the brand and igniting others’ purchasing behavior.
Furthermore, the psychological principles of behavior on social media imply close interaction between consumers and brands. The brand’s page on social media platforms was significantly popularized as an outcome of the campaign; it is a significant indicator of success and consecutively increased loyalty of consumers to the company. According to WebFX Team (n. d.), “in terms of Facebook specifically, Coke’s page earned 39% more followers and visitors to the page shot up by 870%” (para. 10). Thus, the use of the psychology behind digital marketing was effectively integrated by the creators of Coca Cola’s campaign.
Opinion Leadership, Conformity, and Fashion
Another significant aspect of marketing psychology that allowed the analyzed campaign to succeed at marketing its product to the target audience is the appeal to opinion leadership, conformity, and fashion. Coca Cola is a brand with a long and reputable history capable of establishing new trends (Weatherford, 2019). With the wide outreach to the millennial market through social media, the influencers, bloggers, and others began to popularize the product through posts and sharing (WebFX Team, n. d.). According to research, opinion leadership is based on social psychology, which holds that people tend to make their decisions under the influence of others’ opinions identified through the interpersonal communication (Jungnickel, 2018). Indeed, individuals’ decision-making in product choices is affected by the purchasing behavior of other community members, which is demonstrated in the advertisement. In the ad video, the girls purchase Coca Cola to establish their social status as active and friendly youth (Marmosetmusic, n. d.). Such an approach to portraying a product in a social setting implies the influence of purchasing Coca Cola on one’s socialization level, validating buyers’ decision-making.
This consideration is inherently intertwined with the concept of conformity to popular opinion through fashion trends. In this regard, conformity to popular opinions on Coca Cola’s products might be explained by the implied socialization encouragement. In the ad, the results of buying and drinking Coca Cola are bright and persuasive, implying friendship and romance, which are mainstreaming in young consumers (Marmosetmusic, n. d.). As explained by Jungnickel (2018), conformity of opinion might be explained in a two-fold way about the socialization of consumers, namely friendship based on opinion similarity or opinion similarity as a result of friendship or influence. Thus, the interaction between consumers and their sharing of interests, values, and preferences transmitted through the Coca Cola brand increased conformity and ensured the successful outcomes of the campaign.
Motivation and Personality
Applying the marketing psychology perspective of motivation and personality is essential for explaining the campaign. Indeed, the advertisement is shot with emphasis on the names of the characters, which is shown in close shots of the girl’s neckless and then the bottle with the name she chooses (Marmosetmusic, n. d.). Moreover, when showing the bottles with names, the directors of the ad video related them to a big crowd of friends. According to Kahle and Xie (2018), “marketing communication that establishes the link between personal values and brands can resonate with consumers” (p. 576). It appeals to the conveying of the ad characters’ personalities that are revealed through the product as compassionate, happy, kind, sociable, and successful, which are the promoted traits and values. Indeed, when integrating consumer values of cherishing friends and family and engaging in meaningful communication and relationships, Coca Cola motivated consumers’ purchasing behavior.
Routes of Influence and Persuasion in Psychological Theory
When analyzing the marketing campaign, the routes of influence and persuasion, as well as cognitive biases seem to be most applicable. The strength of the campaign is in its consistent utilization of persuasion techniques through advertising. Indeed, according to Vincent and Kolade (2019), “an advert message meant to persuade consumers to purchase a product may well require a combination of logos, ethos, and pathos” (p. 1). In this regard, the appeal to reasoning (logos) and ethical considerations (ethos) were used by the campaign’s creators to validate the choice of Coca Cola. The main character specifically selects the bottles with her and her friend’s names from all the other products as a way of reasonably expressing their personalities (Marmosetmusic, n. d.).
Moreover, a strong emotional appeal (pathos) was integrated throughout to increase consumers’ engagement with socialization values. The video of the advertisement shows happy, smiling people the number of which increases with the increase of their expression of fun, happiness, and sense of community (Marmosetmusic, n. d.). It is a strong emotional persuasive message for others to buy the drink to experience the same feelings (Weatherford, 2019). Thus, the use of persuasive messages was a strength of the campaign.
Cognitive biases are also present in the analyzed ad campaign, including herding bias and egocentric fairness bias. The ad is heavily reliant on the demonstration of the community spirit generated by the consumption of the product, since sharing with friends is important and other people engage in it (Marmosetmusic, n. d.). It demonstrates the influence of herding bias on consumer decision-making, implying their need to identify as community members (Kienzler, 2018). Moreover, the ad influences buyers’ decision-making by relying on egocentric fairness bias, which is evident in the justification of choosing a possibly unhealthy drink by socialization benefits (Kienzler, 2018). In addition, the integration of the power of the brand’s influence was another strong feature of the campaign. To influence consumers’ decision-making, companies “present the product in an advertisement and for the purpose, they make the advertisement entertaining, informative, and most of all worth emulating” (Sachdev, 2019, p. 17). Thus, a weakness might be based on the incompleteness of the explanation of the campaigns’ successes using only the persuasion and influence frameworks since more issues, including cultural aspects, were involved.
In summation, the success of Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ marketing campaign was largely predetermined by utilizing the marketing psychology principles and theoretical routes. Coca Cola utilized its appeal to the target audience of young adults via the principles of digital marketing. The popularization of social media and Internet use were significant contributors to the campaign’s success. An important benefit of digital marketing use was the appeal to the principles of social psychology, validating the spread of information by communication means. Moreover, the campaign was created about opinion leadership, conformity, and fashion.
The online and offline trends were ignited by the popular people’s purchasing behavior and the conformity of the target audience to such movements. Through motivation to action and the resonance of company and personality values, Coca Cola achieved a high level of recognition. Overall, the routes of persuasion and influence from the psychological theory were associated with the campaign’s strengths. The consistency of persuasion using logic, ethics, and emotion allowed for achieving the campaign’s goals. Thus, applying marketing psychology to the creation of advertising campaigns is a pivotal element in successful company promotion.
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