ATLANTA -- As James Quincey prepares to take over as CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., he promises carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) will remain a "key focus" for the company. Built on the back of Coca-Cola soda, the company aims to maintain recent brand growth even as the category lost volume for a 10th straight year.
"Sparkling soft drinks remain a key focus as well in the principal categories in which we compete," said Quincey, president and COO of the Atlanta-based company, who will succeed Muhtar Kent as CEO in May, during a fourth-quarter 2016 earnings call Feb. 9.
The CSD category lost about 209 million gallons of sales volume in 2016, extending overall volume sales loss in the United States for a 10th year, according to estimates from Beverage Marketing Corp., New York.
Here's where Quincey sees opportunities to grow the category ...
1. Driving growth
"Within our sparkling-soft-drink portfolio, we are reshaping our growth equations to continue to drive revenue growth, building over the revenue growth we delivered in 2016," he said. "We'll do this through a continued mix of great marketing [and] great execution, combined with helping reducing overconsumption of added sugar."
To that end, Coca-Cola has put renewed emphasis on both its sugar-free CSDs and its smaller packaging.
"If you take the combination of Diet Coke, Coke Light and Coke Zero, they came into robust growth in the back end of the year, the growth of those altogether," Quincey said. "So no-calorie colas ... actually exceed the growth of that total [CSD] portfolio and most of our other categories. ... So there is robust growth as we press into zero-sugar colas, we're getting the growth."
3. Serving size
Smaller serving sizes have had an effect, too.
"In North America and some of the other places where we're pushing smaller packages, we're getting good growth," Quincey said. "Smaller packs in the U.S. grew almost 10% in the fourth quarter.
"So the game plan out there of smaller packages, zero sugar, re-engagement with the sparkling category is driving the revenue growth, and we believe it will continue to do so."