Coca-Cola rights free image

Coke Knows How to Make a Splash

Marian Daniells

As a textbook Millennial, I’m disinclined to congratulate a massive company for its innovative approaches. But when it comes to Coca-Cola, I have to admit I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. Er… Coke.

I’m not talking about their new bottle designs, which, frankly, I find a little silly. I’m talking about Splash Bars.

Coke wanted to reach more consumers in India by delivering products in the most affordable format and packaging. Nice, pretty business objective, right? But the beauty comes here: Coke wanted to do all that—reach new consumers, use cheap packaging, make money—while also providing entrepreneurship opportunities to rural women.

Splash Bars are, at their core, kiosks where a vendor dispenses soda from a simple, durable machine into small cups at an affordable price. The cheap price appeals to the local community, and Coke can afford to sell the drinks cheaply because they’re using the most affordable delivery methods.

That in and of itself would be innovative, but the company also recognized that this would work because the culture is already poised for connecting around food and drink. As the article states, the women running the kiosks have turned them into community centers.

This is all part of Coca-Cola’s 5by20 campaign, a goal established in 2010 to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across its value chain by the year 2020. As of last month, the company has helped 1.2 million women entrepreneurs across 60 countries. Impressive stuff.

So let’s recap the good (and innovative!) business that is good business:

Coca-Cola connects with 1.2 million women and helps them become franchisees/entrepreneurs, as well as community leaders.

Coca-Cola creates a cheaper product, which means the women can actually sell to their local communities at a manageable price point.

Coca-Cola reaches new taste buds in India, an emerging market with a population of 1.3 billion. With a B.

Coca-Cola wins awards for their innovative offering and selling model.

I love that Coca-Cola saw opportunity to reach a new market. But rather than simply setting up free-standing kiosks that distributed the product, they empowered local women to run and manage their own small businesses. New customers and CSR enthusiasts praise Coca-Cola, and may even buy a bottle, knowing that when they crack it, they’re not just “[opening] happiness”; they’re opening empowerment.

Good business really is good business. Bravo, Coke.