When Muhtar Kent started working for Coca-Cola in 1978, he spent almost a year on delivery trucks in metro Atlanta and as far away as Needham, Mass. and Lubbock, Texas. Visiting stores was a big part of his job.
For Kent – now chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola – it still is. He explains why in this video, recorded in the beverage aisle of a Walmart store in Bentonville, Ark.
“That’s how I started, and to this day almost 40 years later, there essentially isn’t a week that passes by that I do not go and visit a store,” Kent says. “Every time I go to a store, I learn something…it’s never failed me, every single time in the last 38 years.”
Kent is a big fan of spontaneous visits, which is why he urges leaders in legal, finance, strategy and other departments to get out of the office and ride Coca-Colatrucks. You never know what you might learn from a store manager or shopper about pricing, packaging and trends.
“It’s so important not to lose touch of where the dollar changes hands – the ‘points of impact’ where the consumer meets our brands,” Kent said. “If you lose touch with what happens at that point, you lose touch with the business.”