Jul 12, 2014

Vietnam - Coca Cola marketing strategy backfires among some consumers

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VietNamNet BridgeVietnamese consumers are being exploited by Coca-Cola to advertise for the soft drink manufacturer free of charge, according to marketing experts.

Under a sales promotion campaign, Coca-Cola will print consumers’ names or nicknames on their drink cans, which is now in fashion among youth.

Consumers in big cities or important markets in Vietnam can ask that their names be printed on the cans they buy.

A marketing expert said the same advertisement method had been used in many other countries before it was launched in Vietnam.

“Coca-Cola has found a good way to use Vietnamese consumers as partners to advertise its products,” the expert commented. “And Vietnamese private brands have been exploited by Coca-Cola”.

The expert went on to say that Coca-Cola understands young consumers’ psychology very well.

The consumers, who are willing to pay money for original things, feel excited to see their names on Coca-Cola cans. They buy more Coca-Cola’s products, thus helping the manufacturer advertise.

What would happen if Coca-Cola cans with celebrities’ names appear on Facebook, a social network with millions of users in Vietnam?

The answer is that both the Vietnamese celebrities and Facebook would serve as advertising channels for Coca-Cola.

“Once a famous singer posts the pictures of a Coca-Cola with his name on Facebook, millions of fans would ape their idol singer. As such, Coca-Cola can advertise its products to millions of potential consumers at a very low cost (the expense to print the singer’s name),” said a lecturer of the marketing faculty at a Hanoi-based university.

However, the lecturer said Vietnamese consumers have become smart enough to understand what Coca-Cola is trying to do.

He recalled the movement of Vietnamese consumers boycotting Coca-Cola’s products when Coca-Cola was suspected to be carrying out transfer pricing to evade tax in Vietnam.

In late 2012, the HCM City Taxation Agency released a report showing that since its establishment in February 1994, Coca-Cola Vietnam has been taking losses despite turnover increases year and year, and thus, has not paid any dong in corporate income tax.

Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh in May 2013 stated that Vietnam would investigate enterprises suspected of conducting transfer pricing, including Coca-Cola.

A movement to say “no” to Coca-Cola’s products began among Vietnamese consumers.

Vu Tuan Anh, director of the Vietnam Management Institute, wrote on his Facebook page that he would never buy Coca-Cola products.

“I never use Coca-Cola because I believe it has been trying to evade tax. And I will never buy Coca-Cola just because I can print my name on the cans,” he wrote.

The comment has been applauded by a lot of netizens. TanTranCong wrote: “I think I won’t drink Coca Cola anymore because the manufacturer has not done good things for Vietnam”.


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