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Is Coca-Cola the Window to Consumer Identity?

How Consumer Identity Affects Brand Loyalty: A Walk-Through with Coca-Cola and Some Good Tunes

It’s summer. The sun is beating down. The days are long, and folks are setting off on last last-minute road trips. You’re sweaty, parched. So what do you reach for?

A cold can of classic Coca-Cola? Diet? Zero? Zero-Zero? Or do you go off-brand completely and reach for a generic-brand soda for half the price?

This little exercise begs the question: Can consumers’ favorite Coca-Cola products reveal their consumer identity?

Let’s start with Coca-Cola and how they got us all reaching for their goods in the first place.

 

How Coca-Cola Segmented Their Market

Demographics, particularly age and gender, are fan favorites because they’re easy to measure and identify. The problem is, they’re too simple. One fifty-year old, cis-female who works as a public bus driver and moonlights as a jazz club singer doesn’t want the same thing as a non-binary fifty-year old research biologist. Coca-Cola knows this, that’s why they’ve been “using personality variables to segment markets.So what does that look like for each of Coca-Cola’s classic ‘Coke’ products?

Simplifying it down to consumer identity, we’re going to take a look at what “traits” are behind each of Cokes’ products target consumers, what that means for brand loyalty, and what you can glean for your own profit.

Knowing who your consumer is and what motivates them is as good for your business as a refreshing Coca-Cola is right for your soul.

But how is this different to creating a customer persona, I hear you ask. And you’re right.

While we’re measuring the action (identity) and not the motivation (persona), the two are invariably linked. Persona (traits) informs identity (action). And you want action!

So, here it is, my take. Oh, and we’re going to do all of this with show-stopping tunes.

 

When You’re All About Classic Coca-Cola

Consumer Identity: Brand Loyalist

Is anything better than the tried and true? The classic red can with real cane sugar and a refreshing taste? For Classic Coca-Cola-ers, the answer is no. (A loud and indignant, No!)

Suckers for an origin story, you decided the Terminator series ended after the second film.

When it comes to music, you only listen to original songs, e.g. Lori Lieberman’s OG “Killing Me Softly.” You don’t care that Roberta Flack got more boom when she released her cover. The original’s the original’s the original.

Listen here!

What’s Important to Classic Coca-Cola-er’s

  • Brand consistency
  • Quality product
  • Individualized attention
  • Personalized customer experience
  • Consumer Loyalty Rewards
  • Brand storytelling that capitalizes nostalgia and shares clear-cut values
  • Repeated marketing contact
  • Classic images; a sepia tone does a heart good
  • Feel-good character endorsements—think Santa Claus and the Polar Bear

So what? The thing with consumer identity is that we aren’t looking at demographics or geo-targeting as a differentiator. And no, if you were about to bounce away shaking your head at the neat list above, it isn’t astrology-by-another-name.  A consumer identity is based on the premise that people are way beyond consuming goods and services merely for functional satisfaction. It doesn’t matter if you are a Millennial or a Boomer, your consumption patterns give marketers another way to segment and define a target audience. And when 37% of your audience prefers to choose one retailer and stick with it, that’s a large audience. Take another look at that list and tap into this group that could generate 55-70% of your brand sales.

If You Always Reach for a Diet Coke

Consumer Identity: Wandering Consumer

Diet Cokers tiptoe practicality and impulse. Known for going to brick-and-mortar shops just to get out of the house, you buy when need, opportunity, and desire collide. You’re trying to be healthier so you want something diet, but nothing off brand. (Remember that one time your friend found a fingernail?) So when you do buy, it’s whatever’s on brand and closest. Somewhat similar to an impulse buyer, but differentiated by purchase frequency.

You love Michael Keaton’s Batman, but are also open to Christian Bale’s buffer interpretation. (You’re on the fence about the upcoming Robert Pattinson take, but will reserve judgments until the movie’s release. *You will not speak of Ben Affleck’s attempt. It’s best to pretend it didn’t happen.)

As for tunes, you appreciate Lieberman’s version, but it wasn’t until Roberta Flack’s rendition that you fell in love with this lonesome tune.

Listen here!

What’s Important to Diet Cokers

  • Established brand identity
  • Quality product
  • Social interaction involved in purchase (online or in-person)
  • Easy purchases
  • Top customer service
  • Pressure-free brand storytelling
  • Incentives
  • Minimalist changes to the original design
  • Celebrity endorsements—think Michael Jordan in that white Bulls uniform

So what? The impulse for many marketers is to wave off Wanderers, who fall in that no-man’s land between more lucrative impulse buyers and loyalists. Why commit resources to a maybe? I’ll tell you why— Wanderers are in prime potential-loyalists territory. Similar to impulse buyers, they often shop without a particular service or product, never mind brand, in mind. But what separates them from impulse buyers, is that vein of practicality, that’s your in! Through incentives, discounts, and pressure-free yet frequent contact, you can become the brand “in mind”.

Consumer identity is a buzzword.

So You Didn’t Drink Coke until Coke Zero

Consumer Identity: Impulse Consumers

Coke Zero-ers fall into two groups: those who like the lighter taste; and those who don’t know the difference between Diet and Zero, and just grab the closest thing. While Coke Zero-ers appreciate Coca-Cola’s established reputation, you don’t want the original. You want a modern, supposedly “healthier,” update. For you, it’s all about the name brand with just a hint of the authentic taste.

Star Wars didn’t exist for you until 2015.

It was Miss Lauryn Hill that bewitched you with her vocals on the Fugee’s R&B version of “Killing Me Softly”— a modern take on a long-lauded classic…

Listen here!

What’s Important to Coke Zero-ers

  • Brand reputation
  • Upselling and cross-selling (bundle-packages galore!)
  • Convenience
  • Quality product
  • Modern, global and socially-conscious brand storytelling
  • New with a nod to the classic but its own, unique
  • UGC & brand-produced ads featuring “real” people

So what? Impulse shoppers are a huge revenue stream. Needless to say, it’s good to know what makes them tick. Millennials and Gen Z are particularly prone to quick purchases, especially if you can give them a reason to care. Socially-conscious branding and lifestyle-related content is a great way to get your foot in the door— coupled with a product that exceeds their expectations, and your impulse shopper just became brand loyal. Better yet, as they’re more active on social media, they might just share how much they love your brand with the world.

If You’re a Zero Caffeine, Zero Sugar, Coke Zero-Zero Type…

Consumer Identity: Need-Based Consumer

Zero sugar, zero calories, zero caffeine, and a lighter taste. Zero-zero-er’s are zero funny business. You know what you need, and it’s unique.

Customization is the keyword. The product’s only as good as your reflection in it.

You’d never be caught dead at a blockbuster movie, but post aloof selfies at indie showings of black and white films.

When it’s time for your next silent disco, you go for something like Spartaque’s club-friendly remix of “Killing Me Softly.”

Listen here!

What’s Important to Zero-Zero-ers

  • Customization
  • Quality product
  • Brand storytelling that reflects THEM
  • Not so concerned with where it started, but happy with where it is NOW
  • UGC and influencer endorsements
  • Positive personal interactions

 So what? Often lured by online shopping and other businesses, need-based consumers can be yours if you just take the time to have positive personal interactions with them. Consumer identity says they like to buy online because they lean into user reviews, and they like to know every stat about what they’re buying. Kill two birds with one stone by having your top salesman explain every detail of your product or service, showing how you can best meet their needs. The coupling of detailed information and the personal interaction can convert your need-specific shopper into a loyal customer.

If You Just Want to Get the Job Done, Generic Brand Is Fine…

Consumer Identity: Bargain Consumer

Elevated is your first name, Pragmatism your second.

You just want to quench your thirst, none of that name-brand stuff. That’s markup anyway, and you see through marketing schemes. The foundation of a Generic’s identity is the belief that a product is a product.

Maybe you watch the news, or better yet, you read it. your’re too busy to watch sagas or trilogies.

You listen to whatever’s on the radio. The Top 40 or Easy Listening works. Or maybe something that mixes the two like Surf Mesa’s cover of “I Love You Baby,” “ily (i love you baby)” featuring Emilee.

Listen here!

What’s Important to Generic Brand Supporters

  • Need-specific solutions
  • Proactive social media (focus on informative content)
  • Utility-centric marketing
  • Competitive price point
  • Function
  • Did we say function?
  • Brand storytelling that’s to-the-point, no gimmicks
  • No-frills images
  • No need for fancy logos or design—no nit-pickiness here

So what? Why take the time to identify specific needs and create individualized marketing strategies for a group that guards their dollars? Because you can add to your brands’ groupies (loyalists). Because if Bargain shoppers feel your brand is looking out for them in a time of need, they might be less likely to be lured away by the competition. It’s that simple

What’s the takeaway?

Depending on the consumer, different tactics make a successful brand, well, successful. Identifying them is key. That said, the staples, quality product, customer service and good storytelling, are always there.

So, is Consumer Identity the same as Customer Persona? To be honest, I don’t actually know. What I can tell you though, is that I am now very thirsty. And you?

 

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As content writers in these ever-changing times, we are determined to entertain and, perhaps, make you think (just a little!).  Learn more about consumer identity from Give Me Articles content marketing experts. It’s not all about the how your favorite soft drink may or may not be a window to your (consumers’) soul. 

 #consumeridentity #marketingtips  #targetaudience

Content Writing Tip: Key(words) to Knowing Your Consumer

A note about knowing your consumer from a storyteller’s perspective: an in-depth understanding of your customer’s motives might help you more than knowing “what” they want. If you understand why they’re moved to action, you can build a customer experience that invites them to act almost subconsciously. But be careful, no one likes to feel a target on their back. Striking a balance between tailored brand storytelling and creepy is difficult. That’s where the Two Red Crows experts come in. A good story is the bridge that connects your consumer to your product. No abrupt jump or call to action. Just smooth transitions that you can pocket. 

 

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About Emily Kim

Easter egg hunter eggstraordinaire, Emily works as an English teacher by day, and a writer, also by day. In her free time, you can find her managing the Give Me Articles blog, as well as sifting through vintage shops for more matching, monochromatic vest-tee sets.

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