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Is the Coca-Cola Company Doing a Good Job of Adjusting to the New Business Environment Created by the Coronavirus Pandemic?

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As the COVID-19 pandemic has slammed America, the collateral damage to the U.S. economy has spread far and wide. Some of the ripples like a halt to tourism and in-restaurant dining amid social-distancing rules were easy to foresee

But others – like lower Coca-Cola sales – weren’t. Coke reported this week that its global sales volume is down by a quarter since April began, and warned that a bounce-back might take quite some time. “We may be at the end of the big global lockdown, but we are still a long way from the new normal,” CEO James Quincey said on a call with analysts.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that lead with empathy and genuinely address customer needs can strengthen relationships. The COVID-19 global humanitarian and economic crisis has forced individuals and companies to rapidly change how they live and work. Many elements of business and life are being challenged; in some cases, the next normal may look very different as new ways of working are carried over into the future

Companies are doing their best to manage through this pandemic—from ensuring an effective crisis response, to managing supply-chain disruptions, to safeguarding the well-being of their employees by adjusting daily working practices. Customer experience takes on a new meaning against this backdrop. Executives are typically approaching customer experience by creating seamless, convenient and engaging customer journeys; however, the needs of customers at the moment have shifted dramatically towards more essential concerns. A recent McKinsey survey of US consumers found that 64 percent of respondents have felt depressed, anxious, or both over the past several weeks, and 39 percent stated that they would be unable to pay their bills after one month of unemployment. Leading organizations are reorienting their customer-experience efforts to meet their customers’ primary needs, such as safety, security, and everyday convenience. These actions will inevitably speak louder than words in a world where companies are increasingly advertising a message of “we are here for you.” By consciously providing empathy and care during this crisis, companies can build a foundation of goodwill and long-lasting emotional connections with the communities they serve.

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During stable times, firms will generally aim to create reliable B2B relationships that provide increased efficiency and profitability. However, tumultuous times, such as the time during a major pandemic, cause many significant disruptions in both internal and external environmental domains. Thus, we argue that it is critical during this time to reevaluate the company's business relationships as a whole. While long-term partnerships are great for handling incremental changes during stable times, disruptive environmental changes may require managers to consider disruptive changes to their businesses (Distilled Spirits, 2020)

A pandemic may also present opportunities for establishing new relationships as there may be other partners/suppliers who are better equipped to help the company address urgent short-term needs and to capitalize on significant long-term opportunities. In this paper, we design a new relationship audit template to help B2B firms weather the immediate crisis at hand and position themselves more strategically for the future (Courtney H. 2001).

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On the whole, and then distribution, we've largely kept up and running everywhere and doubled down on that. Yes, there are issues in the odd countries here and there on availability in some of the logistics for drivers or having to swap drivers at borders

But generally speaking, we've been able to adapt, and it's great strength of having ultimately a local supply chain in each country.”​ While CO2 shortages have been creating concern for some companies, Coca-Cola says this is not a current issue for its company: “We're aware of the challenges, particularly in the US, due to the bioethanol raw gas feedstock sourcing depletion, but our team has got a number of contingency plans in place, and we don't see an issue in the foreseeable future at this point.​”

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Courtney H. The McKinsey Quarterly. 2001. Making the most of uncertainty; p. 38.

Distilled Spirits . Retrieved on April 27, 2020 from. 2020. Distilleries making hand sanitizer to fight COVID-19.

Doney P.M., Cannon J.P. An examination of the nature of trust in buyer–seller relationships. Journal of Marketing. 1997

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