• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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Do Coke and Fairlife milk go together?

And here is the genius of the brand folks at Coca-Cola. Nowhere on its Fairlife milk product does it even mention the parent company. All the attribution is to the founders of Fairlife (spelled with lower case f with an upside down i on the bottle but as Fairlife in publicity materials).

Talk about a lack of hubris. Coke gets it.

The Fairlife brand is interesting in itself. The product asks us to believe in better milk and, for many of us, this milk does seem better. The 11.5 oz. serving size that I bought is labeled as ultra-filtered milk (not a claim of altering or genetically modified, which would raise red flags). As a matter of fact, it does not speak to the process that modifies the milk at all, a smart move.

Is this another Coca-Cola success story?
Is this another Coca-Cola success story?

We ask all the brands we work with to sell the belief and downplay the process. Coke has taken that to heart and actually claims on the label that “We are dairy farmers who believe in better®.” (The bold is Coke’s). If Coke made any mistake at all in this plain talking and direct message it was in trademarking the theme. All an ® ever says is that it is MARKETING.

Taste is a personal thing so I won’t comment on the taste (and I am not a milk drinker). But the product has everything today’s consumer wants: 19g of protein, 530mg of calcium, only 9g of sugar, only 6g of fat and is lactose free.

Is this enough to put milk back in the American diet? I can’t predict for sure but the Fairlife brand certainly has permission to promise a new kind of milk and a new category of beverage. How is this any different than the sudden popularity of Greek yogurt (which is yogurt filtered and condensed beyond the old run-of-the-mill yogurt with which we grew up)? This move into the milk category is smart by Coke. Very smart.

But what impresses me is its total ability to put blinders on the parent brand of Coke. While it is arguably one of the world’s most powerful brands, I would put it to you that it is so powerful because Coca-Cola has understood all of its brand’s permissions and barriers. It has not allowed sacred cows to get in the way of success and I would bet on Fairlife on this endeavor.

With the soft drink category shrinking and bottled water category over crowded, someone thought about their expertise in beverages and identified a category dominated by store brands and poor marketing.

I’m a cynic and usually pretty snarky about the current brand marketplace. It does not feel like me to be so ebullient. Who knows, maybe it was the milk?

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