How students went looking for digital solutions at Coca-Cola

For the fifth year in a row, students at Vlerick Business School were given the unique opportunity to discover the digital world of Coca-Cola. Over a period of three weeks, they were challenged to think up digital solutions using their own experience of the world as the starting point. “During the Vlerick Boot Camp, we learned how international companies tackle digitalisation and were also given the chance to shape our own ideas”, was the verdict.

Digital Marketing Boot Camp at Coca-Cola

During the Vlerick Boot Camp, Masters in Marketing Management and General Management students at Vlerick Business School were sent out into the field to gain valuable insights into how companies are tackling digitalisation. Applying their knowledge, creativity and unique world view, they then went looking for digital solutions.

We asked the students about their experiences at the 2018 Vlerick Boot Camp.

Week 1: Better connection with millennials

“In the first week, we went to the Coca-Cola Visitors Center in Antwerp, where we were given a presentation introducing us to the company. It was striking that everything was so well organised and structured, which immediately gave us a good first impression”, says Clara Hanssens, a Marketing Management student at Vlerick.

“The Visitors Center mainly tells you what Coca-Cola does, alongside producing drinks of course. That proved a handy source of inspiration later on. For example, we knew it was important to think about how to incorporate the aspect of sustainability into our marketing idea”, says Vincent Meul, a General Management student at Vlerick.

“During the week, we also worked in small groups on our main case for the brand Honest, an organic drink. Our task was to pretend to be ‘digital brand managers’ and look for better ways to connect with millennials. In the end, we came up with a good eight ideas. Our overall idea was to emphasise the organic aspect in our communication, and mainly in a working environment using open communication with employers and employees”, says Clara Hanssens.

“Finally, there was also a presentation by the media company UM about influencer marketing in the first week, and we were given regular coaching sessions.”

Week 2: Visit to Amsterdam

“In the second week, we went to Amsterdam and developed a mini case for We were asked to think about how could attract new customers on certain specific occasions”, says Vincent Meul.

According to Laura de Vries, the Marketing Projects & Cooperation Coordinator at, it was extremely interesting and inspiring to have the students from Vlerick Business School in the Amsterdam head office. “Students are not only a target group for us, they are also a starting point for developing new ideas. Based on a specific case, the students presented several ideas which will certainly give our team here at food for thought.”

“In Amsterdam, we didn't just work on the case but also took a look behind the scenes at various retailers, including Hunkemöller, to see how they focused on digitalisation in their stores. In Hunkemöller's flagship store in Amsterdam, for example, you could take photos on a large screen and share them on social media. The store also collects a significant amount of data. For example, they monitor how long people spend in a changing room on the basis of their movements. I thought that was pretty impressive”, says Vincent Meul.

“Once we were back in Belgium, we also visited Mastercard where we gained greater insights into how the company is preparing for the digital payment solutions of the future”, says Clara Hanssens.

“Over the past 50 years, Mastercard has been a driving force in the payment sector. That has changed the way people pay worldwide. Vlerick students were given the opportunity to learn from and debate with the experts at Mastercard in a one-day session. The public shared their ideas, feedback and vision with the boot camp participants. For the students themselves, it was a wonderful opportunity to explore the payment solutions of the future and try them out”, says Véronika Colucci, Product Development and Innovation Director at Mastercard.

Week 3: Coca-Cola innovations

“In the final week we were given a session at the KO lab in Anderlecht, where we found out more about ‘beverages for life’ and Coca-Cola’s strategy and innovations. It was interesting to see how Coca-Cola are putting their innovations on the map in the digital world as well”, says Vincent Meul.

“Before the Vlerick Boot Camp, I didn't feel any particular connection with Coca-Cola as a company. Now that we've spent three weeks working on a case for Honest and have also got to know the company and the people who work there, I don't feel that way anymore. I was very impressed by how locally Coca-Cola works. What's more, I think it's great and a bit of a surprise that Coca-Cola is adding an organic drink (Honest) to its portfolio”, says Axelle Catoor, a Marketing Management student at Vlerick.

“The Vlerick Boot Camp has taught us to think carefully about how feasible an idea is and to make sure our story has an underlying theme”, says Clara Hanssens. “We also learned new time management skills. We had to find ways to use our time as efficiently as possible. Thankfully, we were pretty successful”, adds Laetitia Van der Gucht.

Looking forward to Boot Camp Six!

The students, Coca-Cola and the various partners can look back positively on a successful fifth Boot Camp. Once again this year, various good business ideas were launched that might even be put into practice in the near future. That is what happened with the Happy Caps app a while back: it was also an idea that emerged from the creative minds of Vlerick students. To be continued!

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