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ATLANTA -- Facing a 21 percent spike in beverage SKUs during the past five years with little corresponding growth in convenience store shelving and display availability, The Coca-Cola Co. has launched an initiative to help retailers better manage what little cooler space they have.
Currently seven major, undisclosed chains are signed on to coordinate their late 2002 and early 2003 cooler resets with Coca-Cola's new "Beverage Max" system.
Instead of allocating cooler doors by brand, Beverage Max recommends the creation of visual "brand blocks" in doors organized by category -- a major shift in strategy for both the soft drink giant and many of its retail partners.
"Our consumer research demonstrates that customers shop first by category," Julie Wilsterman, channel manager for Coca-Cola North America, told Convenience Store News. "They then focus on brand and then factors such as package size."
The more intuitive arrangement reclaims space, which is critical, since the other initiatives of Beverage Max include setting aside space to host new products.
Many retailers have reacted to the growing popularity of non-carbonated segments by simply shrinking related carbonated soft drink (CSD) space. Citing the recent success of Vanilla Coke and Diet Coke with Lemon, Wilsterman said this is not an efficient long-term strategy, noting that Beverage Max allows space for development of new products in both CSD and non-carbonated categories.