Thought Bubble: New Coke bottle makes it impossible to drink alone

June 6, 2014
5 min read

Thought Bubble is a regular feature on the Mintel blog highlighting multiple viewpoints on one topic from Mintel’s team of expert analysts around the globe.

As mobile technology continues to cut into people’s everyday human interaction, Coca Cola’s new friendly twist campaign and bottle certainly has people talking. The cap on the new bottles is specially designed so that you can’t open the beverage unless you match your bottle with another and twist them both at the same time. The new cap aims to force interactions between strangers with a “friendly twist” of the bottle. The video announcing the new bottle encourages the viewer to “Open a Coke. Open a new friendship.” Mintel has invited three of its analysts from different sectors to weigh in with their thoughts.

Stacy_Glasgow_blogStacy Glasgow, Consumer Trends Analyst:

“In a world where a vast amount of brand and social interactions are experienced digitally, Mintel Inspire sees a trend where many consumers are elevating the value of physical goods in general. Unique, multi-functional packaging can allow brands to facilitate an interaction based not on a digital experience, but on the tactile pleasure that comes with holding a novelty good in one’s hand.

Coca-Cola’s Friendly Twist bottle is a quintessential example of how a product’s packaging can be leveraged to give consumers a meaningful memory of the brand. That human interactions—and potential friendships—tangentially ensue can give Coca-Cola’s target demographic a big reason to develop an affinity for the soft drink company.

Brands across all categories should consider how innovative packaging can function not just as a vessel for a product, but also as a means to improving consumers’ lives in some small—yet tangible and valuable—way.”

Victoria-image-circleViktorija Gnatoka, Global Packaging Analyst:

“The new friendly twist cap introduced by Coca Cola is not overly novel in the world of interactive packaging. In this case Coca Cola builds on their previous sharable can campaign that splits in half. The whole idea is to get people do things together engaging with the brand and the product. This always receives positive feedback in the age of social media, when in-person communication is increasingly rare.

We have seen a number of other successful examples of brands engaging people on the streets, in the shopping malls, etc. via their packaging. For example, Bonaqua water in Argentina encouraged people to recycle their new lightweight bottle by simply twisting it and putting in a machine that then takes a photo of you and uploads it to Facebook via eco-cam that reacts to a person twisting the bottle. Brooklyn-based artists created a working pipe organ from nearly 250 cans of Pringles. Milka in France created a package for a bar of chocolate with one square missing. The missing square could be found by claiming it from other people who purchased the same bar using a code that had to be entered online.

This approach is great for brands to engage with customers but also make the brand more memorable. However, from the packaging perspective this is not something that will become mainstream or a norm on the supermarket shelf. Customer engagement via packaging requires some explanation, and if not executed properly can turn them off by simply not understanding what to do and make them choose another brand.”

Lynn-image-circleLynn Dornblaser, Director of Innovation & Insight:

“Coca-Cola’s Friendly Twist video continues the long tradition Coca-Cola has of connecting drinking its carbonated soft drinks with having fun and connecting with others. The ad itself reminds me of the 1970s-era “Have a Coke and a smile” ads, or even the iconic “I’d like to teach the world to sing” commercials. All are about connecting with others first, and secondarily about the refreshment benefits of Coca-Cola.

What makes Friendly Twist different, however, is that it appears to be an actual product package and not simply a promotional campaign. And therein lies the possible snag. Presumably, this package, which requires two people to open a single bottle, only makes sense in some sort of a mass distribution event, such as a sporting event, rather than being sold for home use. That makes me think that, while we may see this Friendly Twist bottle appear on the market, it will be showing up only at selected public venues and intended mainly as a promotion vehicle.

Contrast that with what Coca-Cola has done in many markets with its “customized” labels—the ones with consumers’ names on them. That serves to connect people to one another (I’ve seen strangers give others their Coca-Cola cans because of the name on the can), but still can be consumed in all the usual ways and places you would be drinking Coca-Cola.”

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Stacy Glasgow is a Consumer Trends Consultant at Mintel. She specializes in Inspire trends that will propel businesses forward and comes from a diverse background that includes CPG, agency, and marketing experience.

Viktorija Gnatoka is a global packaging analyst at Mintel where she is responsible for delivering packaging insights and actionable recommendations across multiple categories.

Lynn Dornblaser brings more than a quarter century of product trend knowledge to Mintel. She applies her unique perspective on the market and new product development to tailored client research and extensive public speaking.

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