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Coca-Cola and Britvic: which manufacturer has the strongest online performance?

By Chris Elliott

AmazonFresh recently launched in London and now offers grocery delivery to 190 Greater London postcodes, heightening competition in the grocery market. Rivals are clearly aware of the new threat with the Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, Mike Coupe, stating, “you can never underestimate a company like Amazon,” and Tesco recently announcing its same day click-and-collect service.

With the rapid expansion of Amazon into grocery retailing and online FMCG spending expected to reach $130 billion by 2025 (Kantar Worldpanel) it is crucial for retailers and manufacturers to optimise their online performance.

The carbonates industry is facing increasingly challenging times – the category experienced a -0.8 percent level of growth in 2015 (British Soft Drinks). Further regulation by the UK government to tax the sugar content of soft drinks (effective from April 2018) and consumer trends towards more healthy soft drinks create new challenges for soft drink companies to overcome.

Coca-Cola is one of the most iconic brands of the 20th and 21st centuries as it has invested heavily in advertising and marketing of its products, illustrated by the company’s recent sponsorship of the Olympics. Despite its huge marketing campaigns the brand lost the top spot on Interbrand’s best global brand list in 2013 and remained off the top spot in 2015, coming in third. It also recently dropped out of Millward Brown’s top 10 ranking, highlighting the challenges this carbonates brand is currently facing in the marketplace. As grocery shoppers move increasingly towards buying online, manufacturers must do all they can to optimise online product positioning – ensuring brand recognition and consideration will drive sales.

Category placement on retailers’ websites

Shoppers will access products on retailers’ websites either through clicking on the relevant shelf or through keyword searches. It is vital for brands to optimise both paths to purchase.

Brand View analysed the percentage of listings on the first page of the Fizzy Drinks shelf in AmazonFresh, Asda, Morrisons and Ocado, the Fizzy Drinks & Cola shelf at Tesco and the Soft Drinks shelf at Waitrose. Sainsbury’s was excluded because the website did not allow the shopper to limit the shelf to a general Fizzy Drinks or Soft Drinks shelf, instead forcing them to self-segment to narrower choices, e.g. Cola or Lemonade, and in the case of the former, then to pack size.

AmazonFresh placed an equal proportion of Britvic and Coca-Cola products on the first page of its Fizzy Drinks shelf. Britvic had the greatest proportion of its products placed on the first page of the AmazonFresh website with 41.7 percent of the page – a significantly higher number compared with the other retailers.

In each of the retailers, excluding AmazonFresh, Coca-Cola had a greater share of the category shelf than closest rival Britvic. Coca-Cola dominated the shelf on the Asda site, making up 73.3 percent of listings on the first page.

Keyword search placement

Brand View analysed the percentage of products returning on the first page of the AmazonFresh, Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose websites for the search terms ‘Fizzy Drinks’ and ‘Cola’.

Britvic’s strongest performance for the search term ‘Fizzy Drinks’ was on the AmazonFresh website with the manufacturer’s brands accounting for 37.5 percent of listings, which exactly matched Coca-Cola’s performance.

Coca-Cola performed best in Asda for the ‘Fizzy Drinks’ search term, making up 56.3 percent of the shelf. The brand performed worst in Waitrose for the same search term, making up 12.5 percent of the shelf, however, closest rival Britvic did not have a single product on the first page of results.

Coca-Cola’s brands performed best in Waitrose for the ‘Cola’ search term, accounting for 83.3 percent of the listings on the first page, and worst in Asda, making up 40.7 percent. This is at odds with Coca-Cola’s performance for the ‘Fizzy Drinks’ search term in the same two retailers.

Coca-Cola products made up a large share of the AmazonFresh results while no Britvic products returned for the ‘Cola’ search term. The ‘Other’ brands that returned on the AmazonFresh website included SodaStream and Fentimans, as well as Haribo and Kingsway cola-flavoured sweets.

Manufacturers must consider optimising results on retailer sites for a variety of key search terms – this analysis shows that performance varied drastically depending on what search term the shopper used.

Reviews and Ratings

A product listing that features a high number of positive reviews is favourable in most shoppers’ view, compared to a listing with minimal reviews. Brand View analysed reviews of carbonates in AmazonFresh, Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

Coca-Cola had a greater percentage of its range reviewed on the recently launched AmazonFresh website than it did in established retailers Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

However, compared to Coca-Cola, a greater percentage of Britvic’s range was reviewed on the AmazonFresh, Asda and Morrisons websites. On the AmazonFresh site, Britvic had 75.6 percent of its range reviewed compared to just 38.6 percent for Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola outperformed Britvic in Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, however its range received a lower percentage of reviews than Merrydown and Own Label products in these retailers.

Multiple images – AmazonFresh

Brand View analysed the number of images featured in carbonates brands’ listings on the AmazonFresh website. With its roots in General Merchandise, Amazon typically offers shoppers multiple images on its website and it seems to be implementing this approach on its AmazonFresh website also.

Product photos showcasing multiple images and alternate views can help to recreate the experience of a shopper walking into a store and being able to pick up a product and look at it from every angle.

Coca-Cola performed well on the AmazonFresh website with 84.2 percent of its range containing multiple images, while only 34.9 percent of rival manufacturer Britvic’s range contained multiple images. Coca-Cola was only surpassed by AmazonFresh’s Own Label offering, supplied by Morrisons, which had at least five images per listing as standard.

Pure play e-tailers AmazonFresh and Ocado were the only stores to offer multiple images of carbonates.

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