How Coca-Cola Created ONE Source of Truth

How Coca-Cola brought together data from across 300 brands, 100+ data sources and 75+ agencies, to track and measure success

Most of us have heard the much-used term “fake news.” But how do we know if the news is real or fake? The last few years of media reporting have proved that discovering the truth can be trickier than we ever thought. When it comes to market research, we are often seeking the truth based on a set of rules to get to the correct numbers and uncover the complete story the data is telling us. Our director of group services, Horst Feldhaeuser, dove into this issue, using a case example of our work with Coca-Cola, during his presentation at IIeX North America, “No Fake News: How Coca-Cola Created ONE Source of Truth – All the Time, Every Time.” 

[updated] View the #NewMR webinar on this case study here

The priority of the Coca-Cola Company is “winning the hearts and minds of consumers.” To achieve this, the company had to find its “truth.” This means bringing together all the data it collected, across 300 brands, 100+ data sources and 75+ agencies, to track and measure success among consumers in all markets in which it operates. Because the company has numerous touchpoints from marketing to bottlers, transport to point-of-sale, and ultimately to the shopper and consumer, they needed a clear plan on how to manage all this information.

The Coca-Cola Company saw that the only way to have a superior understanding of consumer behavior was by achieving an integrated view of the company’s whole business. The research must provide a holistic and predictive understanding of the target audiences by leveraging behavioral, social, passive, and survey data, all while doing it in a faster and more cost-effective way. 

This goal resulted in a shift in strategy, a refocusing of resources while working on new ways to unlock growth and leverage technology. Coca-Cola did this while also recognizing the rapid changes taking place in the world – among consumers, retailers and the socio-political environment in which it operates as a whole. The result was uncovering a “single source of truth” for its consumer research and reporting metrics, applying global protocols, so that stakeholders would receive globally consistent results no matter where in the world of Coca-Cola - the right information at the right time.  

This goal spurred the creation of a single integrated system to access and view the entire cycle of all brand activations from testing, evaluating, and live conversations through impact evaluation and planning. This system brings together Coca-Cola’s complex survey data, harmonizes that data, makes accessing the data easier for stakeholders, and maintains data quality and integrity at all points between collection and analysis.

As a long-term partner, Infotools helps to keep all the market research items in check among Coca-Cola’s data suppliers and ensure global protocols are followed. In addition, we help the company to harmonize its local and global tracking databases, ensuring all internal and external stakeholders use the same database, based on the same data processing and harmonization rules – for more than 100 markets. Providing Coca-Cola with the specialized market research software platform to achieve their goals was only part of the equation - we also partnered with them to spread the word internally and externally among their team members and consultants.

Using Infotools’ service and software solutions, Coca-Cola can feed its many internal and external reporting platforms, all relying on the same data outputs.

In our many years of working with global trackers and in particular, in the 18 years we’ve been working with Coca-Cola, we’ve seen how important it is to have a SINGLE source of data truth. The complexity of market research survey metrics continues to rise, as technology advancements, new platforms and design demands take the forefront. Integrating data sources into specialized platforms first, combining into an overarching insights engine and seeking that truth - the way Coca-Cola has done - is the future of market research.


--- updated Jul 10, 2019 ---

Questions & Answers

Q) Why do you need an independent partner (like Infotools) to make sure that all metrics are reported the same? Surely the field & analytics agencies can do it just the same? 

  • With market research projects that span across 100+ markets and 75+ agencies, we need to ensure that complex metrics and constructions are always done consistently. 
  • This also ensures comparability across different providers and methodologies.  

Q) You mentioned data quality is non-negotiable and that you have a program for that. Isn’t that the job of the field agencies? 

  • Yes and no. We expect clean data from the field agencies, but we also support them with changes to the protocol, routing issues.  We understand how seemingly small internal process changes can have a significant impact.
  • We created an early-warning system with Coca-Cola that includes all survey metrics, but also passively collected data like survey length to ensure any issues are picked up early and can be rectified quickly.

Q) If a company wants to start from scratch, how long does it take to set up one source of truth? 

  • It can be done very quickly.  The more markets or projects you have and the more agencies you work with, the longer it will take. 
  • We recommend starting with few markets or projects and then slowly rolling it out across the wider business – taking learnings and potential issues from one level to the next. 
  • There is always some element of ambiguity and different interpretation of questionnaire design, so make sure you tackle one roll out at a time. 

Can you add other non-market research data to your outputs and tools? 

  • Absolutely! Harmoni is specially designed for market research data and allows users to add any other aggregated data, e.g., sales, media, or social media, to analyze and visualize that in the same way.

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