After more than 120 years, Coca-Cola continues to lead the world in brand value. "Worldwide relevance is what defines Coke and it has successfully maintained its diversified portfolio in more than 200 countries," says Interbrand about Coke's #1 result its 2009 Best Global Brands ranking.
So it's no surprise that Coke keeps coming up with innovations that help the brand continue its domination of the beverage world, and protect its 70% share of the U.S. soft drink market.
The latest trick the beverage giant has up its sleeve is called Freestyle. It's a fountain drink dispenser that resides in fast food restaurants, but it's hard to believe what it does. This high tech gadget actually allows customers to mix their own flavor concoctions from more than 100 Coca-Cola drink brands.
Coca-Cola unveiled Freestyle to awe-struck attendees at the National Restaurant Association show that ended yesterday, but the company has been test marketing the device for months; in fact, Freestyle has been in the development stage for five years.
Freestyle not only dispenses unlimited flavor choices, it's also downright cool-looking. Housed in a Ferrari-designed sleek metal shell, Freestyle boasts touchscreen technology and releases "digitally-controlled amounts of concentrate flavor from dozens of plastic cartridges." The machine is also a marketing wizard of sorts. Wireless technology allows it to beam back information to the company about beverage usage patterns.
As you can imagine, such a breakthrough product has had its share of setbacks. The software hasn't always functioned smoothly. Plus, people unhappy with their concoctions dumped them into a reservoir that was inadequate, causing it to overflow.
>Nevertheless, Coke has refined Freestyle during its test stage and is now ready to start rolling the device out slowly this summer. The company remains enthusiastic about Freestyle and considers it a game-changer.
Gene M. Farrell, the Coke executive in charge of Freestyle, speaking about the restaurant fountain business, tells the Wall Street Journal, "If you think about ways to reinvigorate your brands and re-engage consumers, what better place is there?"
Coke CEO Muhtar Kent adds, "Everyone who touches [Freestyle], everyone who drinks from it and everyone who returns to drink from it tells us they are inspired."
To be one of the top brands in the world, you have to keep innovating and take risks. That's what Coke is doing with Freestyle. Clearly, this is one brand that's not afraid to mix it up.