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Over the last two years Colombia has been experiencing impressive development in internet connectivity. According to the latest available statistics from Euromonitor International, in 2008 the number of internet users reached 17 million, and in 2010 there were be 26 million users.

Such incredible figures are possible due to the easy and affordable plans which internet companies are offering, as well as due to the wide availability of low-cost computers, combined with credit facilities offered by retailers and public service companies to purchase computers.

A greater amount of time is also being spent accessing the internet from mobile devices. According to the Ministry of Technology, in 2010 there were 45 million mobile phone lines in Colombia.

Digital product strategies

Colombian soft drinks manufacturers have not been indifferent to this trend, and the web has already proven to be a valuable tool for promotions and contests. For example, when 7-Up launched the limited edition 7-Up Bite! it opened a website through which consumers could vote whether the brand should remain permanently on sale or not.

Another example is the campaign for Pony Camisetas from Pony Malta, which allows consumers who had exchanged caps for a t-shirt and a transfer sheet to access the brand’s website to follow instructions so they can make their own designs online, print them and stamp them on their t-shirts.

Digital advertising will also be an important option to explore, although in Colombia the investment in this media, according to trade press, is still low, at 3% of total advertising, with figures close to US$25 million.

Opportunity to further develop

Increasing wi-fi access and the rapid expansion of smartphones in the country amongst the younger population is an opportunity for soft drinks manufacturers to introduce in the country free games and applications which allow them to generate closer links with the brands and interact with social networks.

Examples of this are the Pepsi Refresh project, and the Coca-Cola applications for iPhone, available for countries such as the US, Japan and Argentina, amongst others.

These kinds of applications will allow companies to collect valuable information about the preferences of consumers in relation to the places they like to be, or their preferred foodservice operators, allowing them to more efficiently direct their customer relationship management.

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