Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2011 (Revised August 2012)

Coca-Cola in 2011: In Search of a New Model

by David B. Yoffie and Renee Kim

Abstract

Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, faced a critical decision in 2011 after closing a $12 billion deal to buy its troubled North America bottling operations from its biggest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises. The decision was prompted by several changes in the U.S. market, including the bottler's inability to make crucial investments, the growth of alternative, non-sparkling drinks, and the growing power of national accounts, such as Wal-Mart. Now that Coke owned most of its North American bottling network, Kent had to decide whether keeping the labor and capital-intensive side of the bottling business was in Coke's long-term strategic interest. If not, should he re-franchise the bottling business, again, as Coke had done in the past? Or was there a third path? For one of the most successful companies in the world over the last 100 years, Kent's answers to these questions had the potential to redefine Coke's business model for the next century.

Keywords: competitive strategy; beverage industry; strategic positioning; Vertical Integration; mergers and acquisitions; competition; corporate strategy; Business Model; Vertical Integration; Competitive Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Franchise Ownership; Investment; Food and Beverage Industry; United States;

Citation:

Yoffie, David B., and Renee Kim. "Coca-Cola in 2011: In Search of a New Model." Harvard Business School Case 711-504, June 2011. (Revised August 2012.)