TITLE OF CASE STUDY: FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL BRANDING – A POWERADE CASE STUDYPowerade is the leading sports drink of The Coca-Cola Company. Launched in the United States in 1992, Powerade is now sold in


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.

The Research

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

sports drinks.

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:

• Inclusiveness

• 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

with consumers.

Business Results

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

Powerade markets.

In doing so, Powerade’s momentum has accelerated since the FIFA World Cup program hit the

global marketplace.

• 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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