Shakir Moin has worked for Coca-Cola Co. for 26 years in 10 countries. But the best marketing lesson he got was in one of the few countries where its flagship cola was not sold. Moin—who was promoted this week to head Coca-Cola Co.’s North American marketing—in 2012 was charged with leading Coke’s introduction to Myanmar where it returned after 60 years away as a result of the U.S. lifting sanctions against the country.
It “was an opportunity of a lifetime,” Moin recalled this week in an interview. And it was one filled with challenges such as “how to enter a totally new market where there's no consumer data, there's no nobody who can advise you [and] no agencies.” So Moin went back to the basics, visiting homes, schools, villages and colleges to “understand the lives of consumers,” he said.
He also visited Coke’s archives in Atlanta to see how the cola was first introduced in 1886. The message—“delicious and refreshing”—was simple yet effective, and the marketing tactics, which leaned into sampling, also worked. The experience “transformed me,” said Moin, teaching him that “the best thing to do is still go to the frontline and see the consumers directly.”
It’s an approach he plans to take as he prepares to lead marketing for what is arguably Coca-Cola Co.’s most important market. Moin officially begins in North America on Jan. 1. He will work from Atlanta and assume the duties now held by Melanie Boulden, who is leaving Coke after joining in 2019 and serving as North American chief marketing officer since late 2020.