Mini-Can of Coke: A Healthy Snack?

By: Yafen Liu

In the face of lagging soda consumption in the United States, the world’s biggest beverage maker, Coca-Cola Company (Coke), has taken drastic measures to polish its public image and rebrand itself as a healthy snack option, even with little substantial changes made to its products.

All throughout February in 2015, in order to promote the brand as a “refreshing beverage option”, Coke paid numerous diet and fitness experts to write online posts for nutrition blogs and major newspapers that recommended Coke’s miniature cans (7.5 oz., 90 calories) as an ideal healthy snack. The only change of the smaller Coke is its size, rather than ingredients in it. Officials from Coca-Cola said the company works with health experts “to help bring context to the latest facts and science around our products and ingredients.”

The campaign of mini-can of Coke is not the first time that Coke focused on fighting for health. Coca-Cola Life, Coca-Cola Zero, and Diet Coca-Cola are all brands Coke’s pushes as being part of a healthy and balance lifestyle. Actually, the mini-cans of Coke, which Coke decided to push as a guilt-free way to enjoy fizzy drinks, fetch higher prices on a per-ounce basis than regular ones: in the United States, a regular 12-ounce can of Coke sells for 31 cents, while a 7.5-ounce can goes for about 40 cents. On the per-ounce basis, consumers are effectively paying double for the smaller packages: 5.3 cents per ounce for Coke mini cans, versus 2.6 cents per ounce for the same beverage in 12-ounce cans. Obviously, consumers are convinced to pay more for less soda.

Although the concept that the mini-cans of Coke could be beneficial to our healthy lifestyle is somehow ridiculous, it turned out to be successful. Coke’s results show that its sales have taken off, even though the smaller packages offer less soda to customers. According to Coke, sales of its smaller size drinks, which including a 1.25-liter bottle as an alternative to the 2-liter bottle, were up 9% from January to October in 2014. By comparison, sales of its 12-ounce cans and 2-liter bottles edged up 0.1%. That is, less soda means more revenue for Coke.

There are three reasons that could explain mini-cans of Coke’s success:

First of all, soda is popular, especially among teens.

As Coke’s loyal consumers, teens (age 17-21) pay less attention to whether soda is healthy or not and are willing to spend their money on what they like. This is the most important reason that they are Coke’s core target market. What is more, soda is not only easy to find at vending machines, fast-food chains and supermarket checkouts, but also tasty and cheap. On the one hand, the taste of soda could be one reason that gets consumers addicted to it. Additionally, the caffeine it contains is addictive, which is part of the reason that soda is such a hard habit to break. On the other hand, soda is cheaper compared to fruit juice and milk. Although soda may contribute to obesity, dental problems and other problems, consumers like to drink it without paying attention to the problems that it costs.

Secondly, consumers are pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

Currently, since consumers are aiming for a healthier lifestyle, new low-calorie and even no-calorie sodas sold in smaller sizes will appeal to people who have been avoiding soda. Consumers, who want to drink soda but are afraid of the problems that soda causes, will be more likely to buy the mini-can of Coke since it contains fewer calories, which means less harm. What’s more, paying more 9 cents for saving 50 calories is a really good deal for who want to enjoy the delicious taste without feeling guilty.

Besides, by using the trustable third parties — health experts – in its public relationship strategy, Coke could easily persuade consumers that the mini-can of Coke is healthy. As a result, consumers believe fewer calories means being healthier, which, in turn, will help Coke attracting more attentions and gaining more profits. In other words, smaller cans of Coke mean fewer calories for consumers, but more profits for Coca-Cola. After all, the “healthy lifestyle” that Coke promotes meets consumers’ expectation, even though its price is higher than regular ones.

Finally, thanks to Coke’s brilliant mini packaging strategy.

Some consumers do not normally drink soda, but they like that the mini-cans turn Coke into a relatively guiltless treat. However, this is not the only reason why consumers buy them. Mini-cans of Coke are bought because they are “freaking adorable”. When consumers are tired of the traditional packages, the mini-can of Coke attracts their attention because it is pretty cute and recognizable. What is more, 40 cents are negligible to these consumers, because they are willing to pay 40 cents for happiness and health.

It is difficult to say whether the mini-cans of Coke are healthy or not, because the answers vary from person-to-person. For example, older consumers may be more concerned about health problems, while teens might be concerned about the taste, size and price of Coke. In my opinion, although the smaller size of Coke contains fewer calories, it is not healthy because there are no substantial changes with its ingredients, just its size. At least, it is clear that this soda is unhealthy for our wallets: we pay more money for less soda.

Sources:

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/03/16/3634128/coca-cola-media-blitz/

http://time.com/money/3667808/mini-coke-cans-trend-value-price/

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15 thoughts on “Mini-Can of Coke: A Healthy Snack?

  1. Andrew Dresner May 5, 2015 / 4:24 pm

    Coke has definitely morphed themselves into responsible marketers. They’ve done a good job targeting the right age group and not promoting their brand to kids. I think they’ve also listened to the consumers over the years and really tailored their product in a way where it appeals to a broader segment of people.

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  2. Chris Lantagne May 5, 2015 / 5:16 pm

    I find it a little concerning that Coke is using the word “healthy” to describe these smaller portions. As you had said, the ingredients are all the same and there is really nothing different yet, Coke is advertising as if it is something different and now healthy. With these smaller portions, I would think of this as being more convenient and I guess as a “snack”, but it could also just make people drink more of it.

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  3. Ryan MacLeod May 6, 2015 / 12:43 am

    As Chris mentions in the above, its a little concerning that coke is allowed market their beverages as a “healthy”. I understand the the size of the beverage may be a better option when comparing the sizes of the cans of tonic that Coke offers. But I do not think telling people, more specifically children, that it’s ok or “healthy” to drink a coke. It sends the wrong message. I do think that there marketing is a great idea though. They are advertising these smaller cans perfectly because people these days are so health conscious and feel guilty about drinking coke along with other types of soda and sugary sports drinks. Offering a smaller alternatives is better because it directly increases how much they can make per smaller can, as well as gain customers who will drink the smaller cans and not feel guilty. This article was great to post about, really interesting.

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    • Lindsey Mattos May 7, 2015 / 9:37 pm

      I agree. Coke is doing what many companies do and kind of bending the truth because they feel that most consumers will not actually look into the real truths and buy it because Coke told them it was healthier. When I was a Health Promotion Director, I always told my clients to read food labels as if they were a car salesman trying to sell you something. Always be skeptical and do your homework!

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  4. Eva Trinidad May 6, 2015 / 12:53 am

    I think that Coke is trying to be healthy in a wrong way. I understand that part of being healthy has to do with the portions sizes that you consume, but also being healthy means paying attention to what kind of ingredients that product has in it that can harm your health. In the case of Coke, it does not matter how small it is, if it has the same ingredients as the bigger ones it would have the same effect on you.

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  5. David Collins May 6, 2015 / 1:28 am

    Coke isn’t healthy, whether it’s a sip or a 2 liter bottle. The only difference is the sheer amount of calories you’re consuming. They should be marketing more as portion control, like nutrisystem meals. Anything is ok in moderation, and every now and then, but simply having less of something does not suddenly turn it into a healthy option.

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    • Sirisha Pochiraju May 7, 2015 / 2:04 am

      Great article. This is is the best marketing strategy coke is coming up to attract young demographic. We all know the truth associated with Coca Cola that it has a phosphoric acid, which leeches calcium right off your bones and from your blood. It’s amazing to think that a dietician would endorse such a product to be as a healthy snack. Ultimately, the right decision is in the consumers hand.

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  6. Michael Carli May 7, 2015 / 11:44 am

    Here’s another way that Coca Cola is trying to stay ahead of the curve. Has anyone heard of their new Coca Cola Life product? They’ve created a soda spin off which has 40% less calories by using Stevia as a sweetener. In my opinion, the smartest part of their marketing is their name and product packaging. Coca Cola Life’s packaging is green with a leaf on it. It gives off a “green”, healthy feeling. Clearly, Coca Cola is trying to market themselves to a more health conscious audience with the smaller cans and launching lower calorie alternatives. Check out the packaging here: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/coca-cola-unbottled/coca-cola-life-to-make-us-debut

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  7. Jim Butterworth May 7, 2015 / 1:54 pm

    I think it is interesting how norms change as customers get used to a product. After portions have continually gotten larger throughout the last 50 years or so in all food products, Coke comes out with a “mini” can which is 7.5 ounces, which is markets as healthy. However, Coke, up until the late 1950s, was bottled in a 6.5 ounce bottle ONLY. So the sugar-filled drink from the 50s must be even more healthy than today’s “mini: can.

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  8. Linsey Walker May 7, 2015 / 3:20 pm

    I wonder what social class Coke is trying to target with this campaign, given the fact that these smaller cans are pricier per ounce than the regular size. Are more affluent customers more likely to be interested in healthier options, and therefore be willing to pay a higher price to essentially have Coke do the portion control work for them? I doubt people with more restrictive financial situations would be willing to pay more for less here, especially given the fact that, as others have mentioned in their comments, Coke, even Diet, is simply not healthy.

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  9. Xiaolong Yang May 7, 2015 / 6:11 pm

    In my view, a cola drink with a few less calories may be part of the problem rather than the answer to reducing our waistlines. People tend to consume greater quantities of foods they believe to be healthy, and seeing a food promoted as healthy can lead people to eat more calories. But I have to say, the healthy lifestyle is a successful strategy for Coke.

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  10. Kyley Murphy May 7, 2015 / 7:01 pm

    I think that it is funny that Coke is trying to be “healthy”, but it seems to be working. I know some people that count calories that will take a Diet Coke over water because Diet Coke has no calories and therefore isn’t “bad” for them. Having the smaller cans was a brilliant marketing plan. People know bad things in less doses isn’t as bad for them, so they opt for the smaller version even when it is more expense. I think if customers realized that they were getting ripped-off for taking the smaller portion, then less people would do that.

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  11. Nick Pappalardo May 12, 2015 / 6:47 pm

    It’s interesting to me that Coke is offering a smaller can and calling it a “healthier option”. They didn’t change anything about their product yet their hoping that these smaller cans will appeal to health conscious people, although it is the same product which is know to be bad for you. It’s also interesting that they are trying to market to women because the cans are “cute” and because of that novelty they feel women will buy them.

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  12. Catherine Cohen June 5, 2015 / 10:01 pm

    I think it is kind of crazy how coke is selling their new smaller coke cans as being healthy if its the same ingredients being put into the product. I get that a smaller portion of coke is better but when the same ingredients are being put in it doesn’t change the product.

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  13. Kevin Poulter May 7, 2016 / 1:38 am

    It may not be a healthy but I love the idea of having the smaller cokes. Its healthier because its less calories than a full can and coke could even swing the idea that its a way ease the crave of caffeine. Its a great idea because some people dont like to drink and entire can of coke so why not appeal to that demographic and make a smaller can

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