TITLE OF CASE STUDY: FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL BRANDING – A POWERADE CASE STUDY
Powerade is the leading sports drink of The Coca-Cola Company. Launched in the United
States in 1992, Powerade is now sold in 80 countries. Powerade is the fastest growing major
sports drink brand globally, and is one of fourteen, billion dollar brands from The Coca-Cola
Powerade is an example of a brand that grew successfully over the past 10 years with locally
developed positionings and communications. However, with the pressure to increase
efficiency/productivity/profitability, and with the increasing association of Powerade with highprofile
international sporting events such as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, the
establishment of a unified global positioning became critical. By adopting a consistent brand
vision, Powerade would be able to speak to consumers around the world in a consistent voice
while leveraging financial efficiencies with agencies and global media outlets.
Like most global companies, The Coca-Cola Company historically drew on local in-market
experience, competitive review, and strategic rationale to inform its brand positioning within a
given region. This positioning was then integrated with the brand's goals and targets in each
cultural and competitive context to establish a brand plan. The challenge inherent in a move
towards a consistent global brand vision was that it posed a potential risk to the local business if
the global positioning was not as relevant to the local consumers as the current offering.
Additionally, qualitative research, the typical approach used to develop and assess positionings,
did not allow for accurate cross-market comparisons of consumer appeal, volume potential, and
risk. This reflects a problem The Coca-Cola Company shares with other global companies:
convincing local managements to change from a local positioning that has proven successful.
Without the “facts” and rigor provided by quantitative measurements that can address local
concerns about the risk of changing, it can be difficult to align markets behind a singular
The Coca-Cola Company hoped that by combining quantitative research with strategic rationale,
market experience, and qualitative learning, they would bring greater precision, rigor, and insight
to this process, thus facilitating consensus across markets and reducing the overall risk involved
in global repositioning. TCCC asked Millward Brown to collaborate in developing such an
approach. The resulting research model linked the “art” of position-creation with the “science” of
a rigorous volume-based outcome. This enabled TCCC to review the findings across markets
and align a global positioning that conveyed a consistent vision for the brand while allowing for
the local flexibility needed to assure the relevance of in-market messaging and other marketing
The results of this research program provided compelling quantitative evidence that fostered
consensus across markets and increased confidence in Powerade’s global positioning strategy.
The research also identified ways in which the positioning could be optimized, both overall and
for each market.
After a review of best practices in leveraging consumer opinion to inform effective positioning,
Millward Brown designed a two-stage approach.
1. In the first stage, a segmentation scheme was created to explore category users’ sports
participation habits, sports attitudes, performance needs, beverage consumption during
sports and sports drink brand perceptions. The intent was to develop more complete
definition of the core Powerade consumer target.
2. Stage two was the creation of an online social networking forum among the target
consumers where respondents reported their motivations for participating in sports, as
well their current perceptions of sports and sports activity behaviors. They also provided
reactions to different Powerade positioning concepts and the extent to which these
resonated with their sports activity experiences. A score card summarized each
concept's appeal, uniqueness, fit with the brand, and overall potential, as well as key
messages, likes, dislikes, associations, and opportunities for improvement.
In order to gain a more thorough understanding of the perceptions, attitudes, behaviors and
needs of sport drink consumers, a segmentation study was undertaken. The goal: to provide an
understanding of local-market similarities (and differences) of the core sports drink consumer in
order to feed into global and local strategy development, target definition, as well as guide
development of the brand’s communication plan.
Across five markets: Spain, Germany, Italy, UK, and Poland, the study interviewed respondents
between the ages of 16 and 40 who practiced a sport at least 2-3 times per month. Topics
ranged from motivations and attitudes towards sports, types of sports they participated in, and
their needs/motivations for drinking beverages during sports occasions, and perceptions of
The segmentation study identified seven unique consumer segments. The attitudes and needs
of these segments varied from “participating for health reasons and/or doctors orders” to
“considering myself a professional athlete”. These segments were very similar in profile and size
across the different markets. The most important segment for sports drink consumption was that
of ‘True Sportsmen’. This segment saw participation in sports as a daily activity and a way of
life. These consumers had played sports for years, associated themselves with teams and
enjoyed the competition and social aspect of sports. These respondents also played and
practiced team sports twice as much as the average consumer. Though a smaller portion of the
population, this group accounted for a significant amount of sports drink volume in the sport
Results from the segmentation study provided a detailed definition of the target consumer, as
well as the types of sports played and motives behind selecting a sports drink that could be
applied across markets.
Findings from the segmentation research led to a number of questions around whether the local
positioning and values for the brand were on track for this core consumer group. Additionally,
there remained questions about how best to increase occasions, frequency, and penetration
among this group – to understand the needs of each segment for different product offers (before
vs. after exercise).
Defining and understanding the similarities of this core consumer across market was the first
step to developing a consistent positioning for the Powerade Brand
Consumer Co-Creation - Ideablog
In the second stage, Millward Brown recommended a new research approach for gathering
consumer insight – IdeaBlog, a social networking environment designed for idea evaluations–
with structured, trade-off analytics using a "Max-Diff" methodology as part of the IdeaBlog
execution. IdeaBlog offered a way to get deeper insights from core consumers in a more
“natural environment” (to them) – on-line. In utilizing this approach, a rich and colorful consumer
assessment unfolded while also having an objective basis for evaluating the positioning concepts
and their core elements.
These social networks of True Sportsmen were created and conducted in five countries: United
States, Mexico, Great Britain, Italy, and Australia. The test stimulus for Stage 2 involved a 100
to 150-word concept with supporting visuals that described various aspects of the sporting
occasion, the needs within the occasion, and the role of the beverage. Ten concepts were
tested among the priority segment, "True Sportsmen".
The IdeaBlog environment was considered the perfect tool for evaluating existing ideas and
generating new ones to reflect consumers' perceptions of the brand's essence. It provided a
highly interactive, iterative process in which consumers were invited to respond to positioning
concepts and communications strategies. Participants not only contributed their views to
discussion boards, but also upload images, videos and website URL’s of their sports interests
and past participations, and gave their opinions in quick polls and surveys.
Response to the concepts yielded several critical insights. There was a consensus across
groups and countries that too much emphasis had been placed on winning in sports and
competition. Respondents indicated that they participated in sports to challenge themselves and
to continue to improve. They enjoyed competition, but these athletes reserved the right to define
what “winning” meant to them.
The best performing concepts also highlighted additional similarities across all markets. The
principles gleaned showcase the importance of a positioning built around:
• A recognition of ‘the journey,’ not just winning
• Acknowledgement of the enjoyment of the game, the passion for the sport
• The importance of the team as a social connection
The strongest concepts revolved around the globally resonant theme of "performing at your best"
while being rooted in persuasive benefits that revolved around hydration.
These insights helped Powerade evolve their global brand vision to one that promised to be
effective across markets. While research informed a global decision, market-level data was also
available to aid the individual markets’ implementation of the positioning in a way that best fit the
local culture and competitive context.
The learnings and insights from these 2 pieces of research were the basis for the Integrated
Marketing Communication plan for FIFA and the Creative Communication brief to the agency.
A Campaign Emerges
With the research results in hand, the FIFA World Cup presented a unique opportunity to create
a global campaign to build sports credentials and accelerate recruitment for Powerade. The
communication goals of this campaign supported the key principles uncovered in the research
(inclusiveness, “the journey,” enjoyment, and the social connection) and also leveraged:
• The endorsement of FIFA (“Chosen by FIFA…”) – a unique endorsement that brought a
strong competitive advantage
• Important functional benefits to drive purchase
• Engagement with shoppers’ excitement to drive participation and impulse purchase.
The campaign was brought to life by inspiring and educating footballers “all the way to the raising
of the trophy”.
The campaign was rolled out in 3 phases to ensure maximum awareness, involvement, and
brand appreciation. First, Powerade established association with FIFA through local PR events
and by launching VIS and shopper work. Next, the brand seeded the campaign to help avid
footballers find ways to play better and longer. Once the foundation of the campaign established
traction with hardcore footballers, the brand took it to the next level to maximize reach and
The main driver of reach for the campaign was a TVC that solidified the performance and
endurance message. Print and OOH also drove reach and focused on ‘hero-ing’ Powerade’s
performance abilities. To drive participation and trial the brand kicked-off experiential elements
at local football pitches utilizing:
• Never-ending game kit - A series of premiums selected by markets as well as tips to train
players how to relieve dehydration and fatigue
• South African Football Clinics – A series of clinics where aspiring athletes learned about
hydration and POWERADE benefits. These clinics also taught unique techniques to
improve performance and encourage the joy of playing.
The campaign finished off with work to connect Powerade to the actual matches in order to drive
word-of-mouth. Utilizing billboards around the pitch and providing Powerade bottles to players,
those watching the matches couldn’t help but see the Powerade brand. Finally, Powerade
unveiled a digital program on fifa.com with collectible clips from the FIFA 2010 World Cup
matches. Powerade created a great plan that established the brand as the go-to sports drink for
footballers the world over.
Testing the Campaign
Utilizing Millward Brown’s Link copy testing tool, the campaign and television commercial were
tested to understand breakthrough and persuasion. The results were outstanding! The
campaign was rated in top 15% of all tested IMC campaigns. Furthermore, the campaign and
television evaluations surpassed norms on every key measure. Overall persuasion score was
exceptionally high due to strong appeal.
Both the TV ad and the campaign delivered strong results across all metrics because they
seamlessly integrated Powerade into the ads in a way that was natural and relevant to
consumers. Additionally, the core message was simple, realistic, believable and resonated well
For the first time Powerade had a globally consistent and relevant campaign and The 2010 FIFA
World Cup represented the perfect opportunity to raise the brand’s global voice and reinforce its
credentials in sports. The brand was able to activate the global campaign across the top twenty
In doing so, Powerade’s momentum has accelerated since the FIFA World Cup program hit the
• Powerade volume grew by double digits (versus previous year)
• Positive Momentum was generated across a broad reach of geographies, including: US,
Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Turkey, Korea, Philippines, etc…
• Powerade volume share grew vs. previous year
• Powerade June YTD value share grew vs. previous year.
• Finally, Powerade improved their ratio of non-working DME (includes agency fees,
adaptation, brand-marketing assets, market research and production) with an estimated
productivity gain of multi-million dollars for sports drinks.
• Tracking data results showed a significant increase in favorite brand scores among those
aware of the sponsorship while consumption intent also grew significantly.
In the end, it was clear that Powerade had an impressive IMC and TVC, contributing to an
increase in volume and share performance.
In summary, the designed research program coupled the power of an interactive, qualitative,
consumer-listening approach with quantitative research to engage respondents and the rigor of
advanced analytics to predict results. This approach promises a new way forward for future
global positioning research.
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