Coke hopes that the glamour associated with such collaborations as its new venture with fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier will shake up a wider carbonates category hit by volume declines in some established markets.
That’s according to Benjamin Punchard, global packaging analyst for market research firm Mintel, who told BeverageDaily.com that the Coca-Cola Company’s tie-up with the French fashionista – who has produced two new bottle designs for Coca-Cola Light (Diet Coke) – was a shrewd move.
Gaultier (pictured) unveiled the bottles at cabaret club the Crazy Horse in Paris on April 13, while a simultaneous London launch event took place at chic department store Harvey Nichols.
Punchard said: “It gives Coke that air of continual reinvention, as well as being a product that’s been around for as long as anyone can remember. It’s saying ‘we’re hip, young, and can associate with the people who are shaping the design world’ – the new bottle is about leveraging that.”
“Carbonate sales have seen declines with people moving to juices, coconut water, etc. that are competing, and there’s only so far you can go with other means of product differentiation such as the short-run flavour variants Coke sometimes releases.
“Flavours offer something different but are not as high-impact as this collaboration, which is getting splashed across the news, You Tube, and goes further than simply just producing a bottle, because I think Coke has a wider collaboration with Gaultier as ‘artistic director’ or something."
Punchard added: “I think he’s doing a can as well as a bottle, but this will likely be a much simpler product, the ‘low end’ version in effect. Perhaps a standard can with a few of Gaultier’s stripes across it, say, which might be more widely available (in cafes, bars, perhaps) but still retains some exclusivity.”
Discussing the new bottle design, Punchard said: “The bottles comes in a pair of male and female. You’ve got the women’s lingerie version that leverages the classic Coke bottle shape, while another stripy version replicates Jean-Paul Gaultier’s sailor look – this male/female body shape ties-in well with his perfume line, his premium branding.
“I don’t think they’re targeting health conscious women [traditional market for Diet Coke] although it is a very svelte outline, it’s more of a designer thing that fits with Gaultier’s look," he added.
“Such bottles tend to leverage something about that designer’s personality. It’s about saying ‘we are Coke and we’re associating with, say, Karl Lagerfeld (who previously designed a Coke bottle) and again with Gaultier, it’s far less about the fact that he’s designed it, and more about the fact that he’s associated with it.”
Designer collaborations created a cachet around the wider Coke brand, Punchard said: “Even if you don’t get access to the bottle yourself, it can cause a buzz around the brand. Coke doesn’t want it to go on general sale because buyers want to feel special.
“It won’t turn up in Sainsbury’s because its cachet would be eroded by sitting it next to baked beans on shelves.”
Coke’s main rival PepsiCo didn’t do similar high-end collaborations, Punchard noted. “At this designer end this kind of thing is quite rare, due to the cost, although Evian water does release a designer bottle for high-end sale each year," he said.
“They use these heavily for promotional purposes, and I think Coke does the same, using such bottles for high-profile ‘Coke events’, with fewer bottles ever sold via retail.”