The paper “ The Marketing Situation of Coca-Cola in the UAE" is a convincing example of a case study on marketing. Though a popular brand, Coca-Cola has faced a number of challenges in the UAE. Some of the challenges are related to the perception of the Coca-Cola drink (Coke) as an American product and idea. This is compounded by the fact that there is a long-standing misunderstanding between Coca-Cola’ s country of origin (the United States) and the many Muslim nations. Although Coca-Cola has always attempted to portray itself as a global company and not just an American company, the efforts are hindered by constant allegations that the company promotes anti-Islam principles; for instance, that Coke was laced with alcohol. Many of Coca-Cola’ s challenges arise because the company has always assumed that a single marketing strategy will work globally.
However, there is a need for the company to come up with ideas that reflect what is required in different regions by thinking locally and acting locally rather thinking globally and acting – locally which seems to be the current mantra. Despite the challenges, Coca-Cola has opportunities to advance its marketing strategy in the UAE by taking advantage of the hot climate and strict laws on alcohol – which give leeway for the consumption of more soft drinks. Established in 1886, Coca-Cola is one of the most common soft drinks in the world with a presence in more than 200 countries.
A key feature of the Coca-Cola Company’ s strengths is that it has a strong brand identity, and market statistics show that most consumers perceive it as a trustworthy brand (Hutt, 2001). Notably, the brand has made ‘ exceeding consumer expectations’ it a mantra, and has lived up to the same by satisfying its consumers through a quality product, and its formation of lasting relationships with its consumers. Despite the fact that Coca-Cola has enjoyed tremendous growth in its target markets, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a special case for the company whose success is pegged largely on its secret formula used in making the soft drink.
Specifically, the UAE presents mixed fortunes for the multinational company starting from being recognized for its environmentally friendly practices (Zawya, 2010), to being accused of lacing the beverage with alcohol (Huang & Sapsted, 2011), and even flouting the consumer protection laws and regulations by selling the 300 ml can instead of the approved 330 ml and 355 ml can variants (Bouckley, 2012). Additionally, Coca-Cola in UAE has faced challenges in marketing its products in the predominantly Muslim region due to its genesis in America.
As will be expounded in this essay, its American roots have led to its product being boycotted by the Arab world twice; first during the Israel-Palestine conflict, and secondly during the Iraq invasion by the US. This research essay seeks to address a gap in knowledge, which exists because it seems (albeit through a review of several literature sources) that most marketing researchers have accepted that perhaps Coca-Cola’ s lack of marketing differentiation in all its international markets is suitable for its operations.
Whereas the components that make some of Coca-Cola’ s product remain a well-guarded trade secret, this research essay proposes that the differences in culture, especially in UAE, should not be ignored.