As more people in the US and other Western countries turn away from unhealthy things like cigarettes and sugary drinks, companies have been forced to move advertising dollars to places like Mexico and the Philippines where the negativity of their products can be overpowered by their advertising. Instead of focusing on healthy products and bringing change to the world, they’d rather just keep selling the same crap but to a new crowd.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Sales of soft drinks have been falling for years as consumers scale back amid concerns about health. Soda consumption in the U.S. slid 1% in 2014 to 12.76 billion gallons, the 10th straight yearly decline.”
One beauty of capitalism is companies and brands live or die by their ability to evolve. This evolution can either take the form of changing their products to better meet customer demand or by changing their customer demand to better meet their products. In Coca Cola’s case, they’re doing a combination of both. According to the same Wall Street Journal article, Coca Cola said, “It plans to cut its calories per liter 10% by 2020 as consumers continue a shift toward more healthy beverage options.”
The only other steps they’re taking in the US are to reduce beverages sizes and to continue to add additional healthier drinks to their portfolio. To me, it’s pretty obvious their main plan is to keep their soda the same and develop a new customer base.
This became apparent to us on our recent visit to the Yucatan Peninsula when we drove through tiny towns where small brick and adobe houses line the dusty streets. Commercialization was hard to find outside of the very popular Volkswagen Bugs (the cool old ones) and the occasional bank advertisement. However, evidence of a recent infiltrator has popped up in the form of giant advertisements painted on the side of the small adobe shops in each town.
It seems innocent enough, after all, I enjoy a nice cold coke every now and then. However, it seems less innocent when you see a six year old hugging a one liter bottle of Coca Cola as he walks down the street smiling – with teeth that are already rotting away from the lack of hygiene and current sugar consumption. I’m sure dental hygiene was already a problem in these small Mexican towns, but thanks to the advertisements of Coke it will certainly propagate.
That, in my opinion, is why Coca Cola loves poor people. It works to their advantage to have under informed customers who aren’t aware of the negative effects of their products. That’s why they’re moving to less developed countries where information is easier to control and they can spend enough on advertising to keep their pipeline open and flowing. It will only continue to get harder for them in the US and other more developed countries where people like me can whine all day on blogs about the evils of Coca Cola!
This abuse of information used by Coca Cola to keep people doing harmful things is a very well developed practice by companies and advertisers. In fact, many companies currently thrive in the US by taking advantage of poor people. I know I’m quickly jumping to some dangerous conclusions by directly associating poor people with under educated consumers who are being taken advantage, but I do believe it to be one big reason for people staying poor. Of course, there are lots of other reasons like bad situations and bad luck, but many times we make our own decisions to be poor.
In my last post, I expressed my disbelief as new trucks have jumped into the $40,000 – $60,000 range, and found through further research that many people are buying these with 7-8 year loans. Do you think rich people are the people getting these loans or is it the people who barely have enough money to make the payments (and hence won’t be able to save money, and will lead to them staying poor)? Most rich people are rich because they know how to make smart financial decisions. They aren’t the ones who frequent payday lenders, pay credit card companies 18% interest rates on more stuff they can’t afford, or fall behind on bills triggering late payment fees.
It actually angers me when I see companies make the majority of their profits by taking advantage of consumers’ lack of financial education. I was poor when I went $50,000 in debt two years out of college, but now that I’m financially educated, I see the really bad mistakes I made. I’ve spent the last 8 years learning about money and how it works to make sure I’m never again labeled as one of the poor people funding CEO retirement packages. That’s the best news out of all of this, many people can quickly change their situation by learning how to control money.
I’ve often considered investing in Coca Cola, but I just can’t bring myself to do it for the same reasons I don’t invest in Phillip Morris. At the very best they are only harming people but at the very worst they are killing people. Coca Cola may not be in the same ballpark as cigarette makers, but when you see the long term effects drinking it has, it definitely contributes to a poorer life. Learn to take control of your money so these companies don’t love you!