D2C and Learning Reports Quench Coca-Cola’s Thirst for Growth

As online shopping surged due to COVID-19, the Coca-Cola Company scaled up strategies to ensure its brands were “within a click’s reach of desire”. Lockdowns have triggered digital buying two years ago, with shoppers seeking the safety and convenience of contactless options – including click-and-collect (curbside pickup), restaurant takeout and delivery, meal kit subscriptions, e-grocery shipments, and more. That’s when Coca-Cola’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) digital experience helped meet the rising demand in Latin America.

D2C as a Trend

Direct to Consumer (D2C) has emerged as the growing trend for brands including some of the large FMCG traditional companies as a route to directly connect with their customers, reach them faster, provide a customized shopping experience, get customer data and also make the entire operation more profitable. 

The Coca-Cola Company has surfed the trend for a few years now, but since 2020 they started seeing D2C as an opportunity to unlock broader growth strategies (opposite the former local efforts) as well as operations that oversee the entire customer journey.

A Cookieless-Proved Strategy

The cookie-less world has been a trending topic here for the GrowthHackers community. Since January 2020, when Google announced that it will phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome within two years, all marketer’s and growth professional’s clocks started ticking. The announcement did not come as a surprise for advertisers, Coca-Cola included, but the deadline pushed everyone to get their (data) houses in order.

Cookies, of course, are the data files that allow websites to log users’ activity on the site, while third-party cookies let them share that information with other technology partners too. Again, D2C came in great timing, giving Coca-Cola’s team a head-start in becoming more and more independent, working directly with their first-party data.

“Definitely Digital Transformation is not only about integrating digital tools but also to generate new ways of work. An example of this was the generation of the eCommerce Cells, or decentralized models with autonomy for agile decision making,” points out the Growth Strategy Sr Manager Ruben Garcia Falconi.

User Experience and AARRR

The current Growth team started with a restructure that happened back in 2021. Before that, the D2C structure was more focused on local teams. Now Growth oversees the entire funnel, following the pirate metrics, from acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue (AARRR).

The D2C team took over digital transformation. According to Ruben the team follows a more customer-centric approach and at the same time taking advantage of the brands. “We translate Coca-Cola Christmas seasonality into D2C plans actions, delivering relevant experiences for the consumer such as content, recipes, videos, among others.”

And with this formula, they’re achieving the best results of 2021: December was the best month of the 2021 year in terms of Revenue, Transactions and Traffic. “We are always asking ourselves the reason why consumers could be looking to buy in our D2C, knowing that price can’t be always the answer”, he shares.

Growth experiments on continuously enhancing the consumer experience, delivering personalized brand experiences. “D2C has an important role in terms of service. We established a process to generate a backlog for Product and UX and a feature for knowing the NPS, obtaining insights directly from the consumer,” explains Ruben.

Mapping the Backlog

They do work with coupons and run tests on pricing, but that’s far from being the main resource. By using the AARRR model the team easily identifies opportunities from growth that may come way before the bottom funnel.

Endless Inputs and the Prioritization Model

Growth is a culture and not a position or simply a process to be followed,” defends Ruben. That’s why ideas are generated by the entire ecosystem, which includes sales and bottlers, creating a huge amount of inputs. They have to prioritize, generate a backlog and decide on the most relevant proposition.

And as we see in many cases, even in hundred-year-old companies like IBM and Coca-Cola, growth is usually operated with limited resources and time, so assertive decision-making is crucial. Prioritizing which experiments are worth running or not is a hot topic for the Growth team at the moment. They use a prioritization model that takes into consideration the urgency for doing it, the user impact and the business value, among others. This prioritization model is important to bring the inputs to the development and UX teams, and also to align the multiple stakeholders that continuously generate test ideas: Direct-to-consumer, other teams of Coca-Cola and the bottling system.

Prioritization Process

Regarding the bottling system, Coca-cola works with them across Latam, and that includes many teams which need to be autonomous. So they run regular meetings with the bottlers generating learnings as they go. The role of growth is not in these meetings, but is directly working with the UX team, Marketing, CRM, data and analytics. The Growth Manager Ruben Garcia is also in charge of the relationship with all the agencies – essential to their media and commercial operations.

To be on the same page, these teams are looking at dashboards where a combination of Revenues, Monthly Users and NPS is equivalent to the North Star Metric.


These teams also share their learning reports across the board, continuously relying on each other’s feedback. From local sales daily meetings, to the media’s experimentation with audiences and the learnings report shared by the promotions team every month, Growth is creating a decentralizing model. The scrum master is in charge of connecting all the dots. Owning the entire perspective, this role shares the learnings from one country to the other.

The more learnings we have, the more we can improve“. An example of this is Hot Sale. We failed with this initiative, but capitalizing on the learnings led us to achieve great results in other seasonalities, such as El Buen Fin. “From the learning perspective, encouraging failure will allow us to generate more learnings like this,” says Ruben. And that’s something the GrowthHackers community agrees on: the more we take risks, the more we learn and the more we grow.