COMMENT: Mecca Cola harnesses power of political boycott
'Muslim' cola is now on sale in a direct and deliberate challenge to US drinks giant Coca-Cola.
Mecca Cola is in direct competition with Coca-cola, deliberately appealing to anti-US sentiments. This growing tendency for manufacturers to market themselves on a political positioning to take advantage of consumer concerns creates a loyal customer base that will not be easily swayed.
The current tensions over the Middle East, and increasing dislike of the US among the international Islamic community, have led various innovators to develop 'Muslim' cola in a direct challenge to that ubiquitous icon of Americana, Coca-cola.
Mecca Cola is the brainchild of Tawfik Mathlouthi, a French entrepreneur who says that by providing an alternative to Coca-cola, he is "combating US imperialism and Zionism by providing a substitute for American goods." The drink appeals directly to anti-US sentiments with the slogan, "Don't drink stupid, drink with commitment." As an added incentive, 20p of the price of each bottle sold goes to charity - half to Palestinian charities, half to European NGOs.
Nowadays, entrepreneurs are keen to take advantage of consumers who want to vote with their wallets. In Saudi Arabia, Zamzam Cola (named after a holy spring in Mecca) has proven very popular. In Europe, Mecca Cola has rapidly gone from distribution through French supermarkets in Muslim populated neighborhoods to selling millions of litres across Europe. In the UK alone, the company expects to sell 2 million litres a month.
Consumer boycotts are not a new phenomenon. However, in the past, when consumers' political sensibilities have lead to boycotts such as of South African produce during apartheid, or to a lesser extent, of Nestle products, it was a phenomenon over which manufacturers had no control. Some might have benefited from the transferred spend, but no company tried to market a product as the antithesis of the boycotted goods.
By harnessing political sentiments, rather than marketing its product on quality or price, Mecca Cola can very quickly create a loyal and dedicated consumer base and clearly differentiate itself from competing products.
Coca-cola will have to work hard to regain lost market share.
Related Research: Datamonitor, "Eating out"(DMCM0081)
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