Inside Coke’s new London store aimed at building ‘brand love’

Coca-Cola says it is focused on bringing “unique” experiences to consumers both online and through physical offerings, starting with its new London store.

Coca-Cola’s new London store. Source: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has launched a new flagship store in London in an attempt to grow “brand love” among its customers.

Launched today (28 April), the store is located in London’s Covent Garden and stocks Coke-branded accessories and premium clothing lines.

The new store ties in with Coke’s ‘Real Magic’ brand platform, launched in September 2021. Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey has previously said one of the platform’s key aims is to create “best-in-class consumer-centric marketing experiences”.

Vice-president of licensing and retail, Michelle Moorehead, explains the new store opening plays into this aim, the focus being on encouraging everyone to choose a “more human way” of operating.

“By embracing unique perspectives, moments – and most importantly experiences – our retail locations, and in particular the new London store, allow us to bring unique Coca-Cola experiences to our consumers,” she states.

We believe that combining unique online experiences, with powerful in-person experiences, will be crucial to giving our fans the best of Coca-Cola.

Michelle Moorehead, Coca-Cola

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is an area Coca-Cola has been investing in for some time now, but largely in an online capacity. For example, during the pandemic the company launched DTC ecommerce marketplace, Your Coca-Cola.

Physical DTC offerings are more unusual for the brand. The Covent Garden location is the first-of-its-kind in for Coke in Europe. The launch builds on the “successful” creation of similar stores in the US, says the brand.

Moorehead acknowledges that “digital platforms are the future”, claiming that Coca-Cola’s DTC platform has been “a hit with consumers”. However, physical retail does play a part in the brand’s innovation strategy.

“Innovation can take many forms and shapes, and this store is just one way we’re innovating to bring our brand to new consumers and engage our existing consumers to grow brand love,” she says.

“We believe that combining unique online experiences, with powerful in-person experiences, will be crucial to giving our fans the best of Coca-Cola.”

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The store is focused on fashion, with particular attention paid to streetwear. The products available are premium, featuring collaborations with designers such as Soho Grit, Alma de Ace, BAPE, Herschel and Staple.

There is also a chance for consumers to engage in personalisation, through a Coca-Cola can customisation feature. This ties in a digital aspect to a physical store, as consumers use a screen to design their own can.

The store also plays into Coke’s iconography; from prints that hark back to the brand’s past, to a changing room with a door that looks like the front of a Coca-Cola fridge.

Moorehead explains the store’s product offering is designed with the millennial and Gen Z consumer in mind. The store will be opened by RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Tayce, and influencers and content creators will be in attendance with a view to reflecting the brand’s presence in culture.

Offering something “unique”

While Coca-Cola is one of the most well-known and widely available brands worldwide, Moorehead says this store offers “Coca-Cola fans” something unique.

“We’re often asked by our fans where they can get exclusive products and merchandise,” she says. “The store lets us put all of these exciting products in one place and as part of an immersive Coca-Cola experience.”

The launch has generated hype among Londoners. Moorehead describes how passers-by have been knocking on the front door of the Covent Garden store asking whether they can come inside, something she says demonstrates their excitement to engage with the brand.

Playing into the experiential theme the company has tried to develop under the Real Magic platform, the store also has its own bar. This sees bartenders serving up non-alcoholic mocktails and a twist on the traditional Coke float.

Product inspired by the Coke Starlight product. Source: Coca-Cola

There are more ties between the digital and physical in the store, with a line based around Intergalatic, a new product released earlier this year under new innovation platform Coca-Cola Creations.

Intergalactic is a new flavour, which imagines what space tastes like. The product was launched with a digital-first approach, inviting consumers to access an augmented reality concert from US singer and brand ambassador Ava Max just by scanning a bottle.

The London shop brings Intergalactic to a physical realm, with a line of clothing in collaboration with streetwear brand Staple available in store.

Moorehead explains the new physical location also provides Coke with an opportunity to showcase its sustainability commitments. The shop, for example, features a clothing and accessories line made from recycled plastic.

The launch will be supported by a targeted media campaign, including proximity OOH, geo-targeted social and a takeover of Covent Garden Tube Station exits.

Coca-Cola views the London store as “a test of a concept”, says Moorehead, who is optimistic the outlet will be a hit with customers.

“We’re very hopeful about the outcome given prior experience and initial feedback, and if successful, I think there’s a lot of interest in having more of these in the future,” she adds.