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Innovative Approach Gives the Coke Bottle 16 Lives

Sustainability and the environment are becoming increasingly important to businesses, as is the concept of life extension of products. In a recent campaign, Coca Cola raises awareness of these issues by asking the question “What if empty Coke bottles were never thrown away?” In the process of developing innovative solutions to this question, Coca Cola also developed a clever strategy to weave their product ever deeper into their customer’s everyday lives.

You may have heard of the “solar bottle bulb.” This and many other observations (ethnography) have shown Coca Cola how omnipresent their soda bottle is in people’s lives. Coca Cola is now building on that idea in its 2nd Lives initiative, exploring many more ways—16 to be exact—that the bottle could be reused. (View the video here.)

Coca Cola’s campaign reminds us of a simple innovation tool, SCAMPER, that can enable teams to look in focused areas and find new solutions. SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other purposes, Eliminate and Reverse. (Read more about SCAMPER in The Innovator’s Toolkit and download a worksheet here). Using SCAMPER and ethnographic research, we can imagine, for example, how one might find several possible other uses for the Coke bottle and then further filter to finalize applications.

Coca Cola has achieved their new uses by focusing on cap adaptations, so after a customer enjoys their soda, they can turn the bottle into a water gun, bubble blower, soap dispenser and more—all ways to give the Coke bottle a new life, while also minimizing the environmental impact and creating joy in their customers’ lives. Coke has decided to launch the campaign in Vietnam later this year.

Using tools like SCAMPER in a focused manner, it is possible for organizations to quickly create new innovations, build better brand relationships with the customer, and generate increased product sales and returns. Organizations that have a strong focus on innovation are continuously identifying such innovation opportunities and encouraging their employees to work towards creating new solutions that have a long-term impact on their brands and sales. What such innovation opportunities is your company exploring?