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Coke — Globalization’s Real Thing

What does it take to be a global icon?

April 4, 2001

What does it take to be a global icon?

Originally designed as a cure for the flu in 1886, Coca-Cola has turned into the world’s largest manufacturer, marketer and distributor of non-alcoholic beverages. And in the process, it has become an icon of globalization. Our new Globalist Factsheet examines what it means for a large company to be universally recognized.

How important is Coca-Cola in the larger scheme of things?

“A billion hours ago, human life appeared on earth. A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged. A billion seconds ago, the Beatles changed music. A billion Coca-Colas ago was yesterday morning.” (Robert Goizueta, the late CEO of Coca-Cola, explaining in April 1997 that one billion Cokes are sold every two days)

How much is that per head?

As of 1999, the world’s per capita consumption of Coca-Cola was two ounces a day. (Wall Street Journal)

How much Coke has been produced so far?

If all the Coca-Cola ever produced were placed into eight-ounce bottles and stacked, the pile would reach to the moon and back about 1,100 times. (Fortune)

How much money does the company make?

Back in 1989, Coca-Cola sold $8.6 billion worth of beverages. By 1999, its sales had more than doubled to $19.8 billion, for annualized growth of 8.67%. (Motley Fool)

Is it an “American” company?

As of 1998, North America accounts for only 34% of Coca-Cola’s sales — and only 24% of Coke’s profits. (Detroit Free Press)

How global is the company?

Coca-Cola operates in over 200 nations — more countries than the United Nations has members. (

How much does it cost to maintain its image?

Coca-Cola spends $1 billion annually on advertising and marketing worldwide. (New York Times)

Is the competition tough?

Back in 1994, the battle for soft drink supremacy in Vietnam, carried out between Pepsi and Coca-Cola, was called the “new Vietnam War.” (Washington Post)

Has Coca Cola ever had to deal with the Great Wall of China?

From 1949 until 1978, China banned Coke from its markets. (New York Times Magazine)

What is the outlook for Coca-Cola in foreign markets?

If per capita Coke consumption in China (seven 8-ounce cans per year) were to rise to that of the Philippines (126 8-ounce cans per year), Coca-Cola’s world-wide sales volume would increase by almost 40%. (New York Times Magazine)

Finally, with regard to Coke’s secret formula — will the company ever give it up?

“Coke’s 130-year-old secret is more secure than our nuclear weapons research.” (U.S. Senator Frank Murkowksi, on allegations that a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist gave classified information to the Chinese, in May 1999)