2010 Power 50: No. 30 Muhtar Kent

Muhtar Kent - Power 50 Profile

The Coca-Cola Co. took a major step forward this year when it acquired the North American business of Coca-Cola Enterprises.

The creation of a unified operating system will position the company to better market and distribute its products, said Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer.

“It’s going to be a game-changer for our business in North America, and will provide new opportunities to better serve our supermarket customers,” said Kent.

The transaction is aligned with the Atlanta-headquartered company’s new business plan. Called “2020 Vision and Roadmap for Winning Together,” it calls for more than doubling its system volume and revenue, creating greater strategic value for retailers; and increasing sales and market execution investments.

The 2020 Vision resulted in the introduction of 700 beverages last year, bringing the company to more than 3,200, Kent said. Coca-Cola added 650 million incremental unit cases of volume to its business, a 3% gain over 2008.

The 2020 Vision also calls for investing in developing markets, including more than $14 billion over the next five years in China, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“We are a local business everywhere we operate and our philosophy has always been to invest in and grow along with nations,” said Kent.

The type of investment strategy used depends on the market. In markets like Western Europe and North America that felt the economic crisis more acutely, the company’s strategy has been to grow share value through more product offerings and more focus on product and packaging mix by channel.

But in Japan, which has experienced a more stagnant environment, the focus has been on driving greater profitability.

“Nothing speaks more to the health and viability of our brands and business than the investments we’re seeing from our bottling partners around the world,” said Kent.

It terms of innovation, the company plans to have 2 billion of its new “Plantbottles” in the market by the end of the year. Fully recyclable, the Plantbottle is a redesigned polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle made from up to 30% plant-based, renewable materials.

Sustainability and supply chain innovations have also made an impact. Take Haiti Hope. The $7.5 million project provides opportunity for 25,000 mango farmers.

“Through Haiti Hope, we will be supporting the development of a sustainable mango juice industry in the country over the next five years,” said Kent.

The company’s go-to-market strategies are being influenced by a changing consumer, one that is seeking products that help them balance their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, according to Kent.

“Consumers are demanding that brands go beyond benefits,” he said. “They want to know how it will impact their life, community and environment.”