Melinda Gates wonders about learning from Coca-Cola for social change too

Maybe we’re on to something during recent discussion here about how health behavior change can learn from soft drink marketing. Melinda Gates has her eye on this too for the Gates Foundation.

About her TED talk, Melinda Gates says:

… we can also learn from the successes in other sectors. My TEDxChange talk focuses on the question of how Coca-Cola has become so ubiquitous around the world and what governments and the development community can learn from the company’s success. By analyzing what Coca-Cola has done to become so prevalent, we can apply those lessons to the millennium goals and save even more lives.

What can nonprofits with social missions learn from Coke? Melinda shares three key things. Marketing is one of them:

She says that Coke’s marketing is aspirational. It sells the life that people want to live. It sells happiness. And how it sells happiness varies for different cultures. Even she says, “it feels pretty good, right?”

In contrast, she notes that health professionals often sell based on avoidance, not aspiration. She thinks it’s a mistake to not make people want something that they need.

She talks about how in some areas of the world, you really do have to sell a toilet for its intended use. The goal is to reduce diarrhea and open defacation, but people don’t necessarily want to use toilets when toilets are given to them. The toilets have been used to store grain and as chicken coops. So instead of selling a toilet for its intended use, in India romance has been used as the selling point for toilets: “no loo, no I do!” Now that’s aspirational motivation.

Related posts:

Selling what people don’t want to buy (part 2)

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