New Coca-Cola CEO Blames Online Shopping For Sales Decline

Image courtesy of Myszka

When you shop online, you’re skipping an important part of the retail experience. No, not waiting in line or dodging cosmetics kiosk workers. You also don’t take the kind of in-mall break that involves soft drinks or a bottle of water or iced tea, and that’s a problem for Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey only started his new gig on May 1, and in an interview with Bloomberg News, he lays out several factors in flat soda sales. There’s the obvious trend away from consuming gallons of sugary beverages, but Coke has also been hurt by some of the changes consumers have made in their general shopping habits.

“Digital is changing the way you behave,” explains Quincey. “It affects other categories that are not the primary reason you thought about making the shopping trip.”

So when you no longer go to the mall, or the hardware store, or to any of the many retailers that have gone bankrupt in the last two years, you’re also no longer making that impulse buy of a Coke at the checkout line, food court, or vending machine.

“Unless you’re adapting to the secondary effect, you can find — all of a sudden — weird and surprising changes happening to you,” the CEO told Bloomberg.

And it’s not just in the U.S. Coca-Cola has seen online food ordering hit its sales in China. When people went to noodle shops to eat or pick up their food, they would buy soda in glass bottles, but now that more folks are ordering delivery, the company finds that glass bottles are no longer ideal.

The problem of online shoppers not stopping for a slice of pizza and a Sprite is one of these surprising changes, and Coca-Cola wants to figure out how to get its products into our homes, including delivered groceries ordered online.

Offering more beverages that aren’t sodas is one option, and Coca-Cola is joining its rival Pepsi in acquiring healthier brands that sell brands containing juice, tea, and something other than a rush of high fructose corn syrup.