Press Clips: Coca-Cola Strives for Deft Decisions

Kathy Waller

Kathy Waller, CFO and executive VP of Coca-Cola

Earlier this month, the Barclays Back-to-School conference offered a rare glimpse of candor from a Coca-Cola executive. Kathy Waller, chief financial officer and executive vice president, admitted that Coke tends to be careful and methodical before making a decision that will affect the whole company. Such hesitation is understandable for an institution hauling in $47 billion in revenue last year. However, Waller believes that the style has its drawbacks.

“That caution has caused us to be slow and slow to respond when we needed to be much, much faster,” Waller said at the conference, according to an article on

Waller, a company veteran who was promoted to her current role in April, said that the hesitance has to change and that the company needs to be more open to risk. This ideological shift, if acted upon, could improve Coke’s chances of reaching its goal for beverage growth outside of North America: $300 billion between 2014 and 2020.

The article also sheds light on Coke’s international plans, indicating that slowing sales of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) in the U.S. are a concern, but not the whole pie. Ahmet Bozer, executive vice president of Coca-Cola International, said that the Mexican sugar tax has hampered short-term revenue, but the results have still been better than expected.

“Moreover, macro pressure from Europe’s continued economic troubles has been offset by good performance in China and ‘very strong’ results in Japan,” the article notes.

Starbucks Continues Store Format Innovation

Starbucks plans to launch smaller, express-style stores that will better suit “busy commuters,” according to a recent story by The Wall Street Journal.

The stores will feature smaller food and beverage menus and will deploy digital payment and mobile ordering systems to expedite service. The article notes that Starbucks wants to build upon the success of its drive-through stores, which account for 40 percent of its U.S. company-operated stores and have higher sales growth than non drive-through stores.

Last month, Bloomberg Businessweek noted that Starbucks will test trucks on the campuses of James Madison University in Virginia, Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina and Arizona State University in Phoenix, the last of which also announced an educational partnership with the coffee giant.

Schweppes Brings Water Enhancers to Australia

lqd imageSchweppes Australia has begun testing two new water enhancer brands to piggyback the category’s swift rise in the U.S. The brands, Squirt and LQD+, hit the market at the beginning of September and are marketed toward two different demographics. Squirt hopes to appeal to modern families, while LQD+ is positioned as a lifestyle accessory with a “bold and attitudinal” brand for independent adult consumers.

“For health reasons, there’s a big trend towards consuming more bottled water, but the major barrier to consuming more bottled water is that water is seen as boring and uninteresting,” Ellie Vince, head of innovation at Schweppes Australia, told Marketing Magazine.

Walmart-Only Soda Tax?

While beverages might cost less in East Los Angeles, the same couldn’t be said for a Walmart store in Buffalo, N.Y.

CNN writes that, despite state laws prohibiting such action, the store had a 50-cent markup for 12-packs of Coke. Consumers who were told that they were being charged more than the $3 advertised price were told that the uptick is a result of a sugar tax. Only problem? Despite all the banter of this kind of legislation, no such tax exists.

“Walmart adjusted the price on June 12 after the issue was brought to the company’s attention by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman,” CNN writes. “In total, Walmart sold 66,000 cases of Coke to New Yorkers at the inflated price.”

The retailer has since apologized and has agreed to settle the investigation by paying $66,000, according to the article.

Coffee by the Numbers

A recent survey by Pressat, a U.K-based public relations group, finds that 85 percent of respondents drink at least three cups of coffee in a day.

The survey included 10,000 individuals and also found that 70 percent of respondents say that their working ability would be affected without drinking coffee.

“The highest consumers, [drinking] over four cups daily, were those with stressful careers: journalists consumed the most, followed closely by police officers and teachers. Could it be that being overstretched or working late pushed the workforce to consume caffeine?”