CEO James Quincey Keeps Innovating At Coca-Cola

James Quincey

Under the helm of CEO James Quincey, Coca-Cola is focused on innovation and acquisitions to satisfy changing consumer preferences.

The Atlanta-based global beverage company has expanded its product line by launching Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, and making several acquisitions, including Honest Tea made with real leaves and organic sweeteners, and Topo Chico, a premium sparkling mineral water from Mexico. Both brands are continuing to be developed within Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands incubator unit, and the company is also building stronger capability to nurture and expand small brands internationally, Quincey said in the company’s third-quarter earnings call.

But across all of its businesses, one thing is consistent: the consumer landscape is changing, he said. The company is contending with an increasing number of small and fast competitors all striving to meet evolving consumer desires for more variety, including low- or no-sugar options.

“To thrive in this kind of environment, we need to be more entrepreneurial and agile, to take intelligent risks, and build a broader consumer-centric portfolio,” said Quincey, who joined Coca-Cola in 1996.

“As we accelerate our way forward to becoming a total beverage company, new categories and premium segments will play key roles in our growth. We are growing our portfolio in multiple ways whilst leveraging the strength of our core brands as its foundation.”
Coca-Cola is also looking at opportunities in growing premium segments such as adult craft beverages, he said.

“As you know, more consumers, most notably adults, are seeking unique and distinct products with sophisticated flavors, quality ingredients and smaller-scale craft production,” Quincey said.

This also includes mixers like Royal Bliss in Spain and in the UK, a new range of premium mixers called Schweppes 1783. The company also is “building on a solid foundation in sophisticated flavors” through brands like Blue Sky and Barrilitos Aguas Frescas in the U.S., and Appletiser and BOBO in Europe.

Coca-Cola also has been restructuring its operations, including refranchising all its U.S. bottling territories to local bottling and distribution companies, and streamlining its corporate workforce.

The aim is to have a more agile operating structure so the company can react more quickly to market forces, Quincey said last year at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference.

“We will adopt more of a tech company modus operandi rather than inventing the perfect thing and taking a long time doing it,” he said. “We need to get out there faster and take more risks.”

The net result, Quincey said, is intended “to drive the growth strategy – to grow the top line and improve our operating margin.”

James Quincey is No. 64 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies.


James Quinsey, President and CEO

Headquarters: Atlanta, GA

No. of Employees: 100,300

Date became CEO: May 1, 2017

Age: 64

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. University of Hull, England

Graduate Degree: City University of London

Company Start Date: 1996

Years at Company: 21

First Position: Director of Learning Strategy, Latin America

 

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.

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