How to Become a Coca-Cola Distributor

by Tom Streissguth; Updated September 26, 2017
bottles of cola

The Coca-Cola brand has long been one of the most familiar in the world. This giant of the soft drink market, however, does not actually manufacture soft drinks. Instead, Coca-Cola makes beverage bases and syrups and serves as its own global marketing agency. Meanwhile, about 250 independent bottling partners actually manufacture and distribute the products. The company and bottlers work closely to develop local outlets, which include grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores and concession stands.

Investigate the Product Lines

Research Coke products. There’s a lot more to Coke than Coke. The company owns juice drinks, coffee, tea, smoothies, sports drinks, water, energy drinks, dairy products, mixers and frozen beverages. A full list is available on the CokeSolutions site. Stroll through a local grocery store to find and study these products. Talk to restaurant owners, store managers and street vendors about their arrangements with the local distributor. Not all distributors handle the full line, and in certain areas the available Coke product list may be missing a few items.

Local Market Research

Study the market that you wish to serve. Find out where Coke products are sold. Find the local Coca-Cola bottlers through the Coca-Cola Bottler Finder, on the CokeSolutions web site. All you need to access this information is your zip code. Get in touch with the company's sales or public relations department to inquire about any partnerships it may have with smaller distribution companies in the same area. Ask if it is looking for business partners or seeking to establish subsidiaries.

Make Contact

Contact Coca-Cola to discover where the company is seeking new distributors and vending partners. Of course, the local distributor may have an exclusive contract with the corporate partner for its territory. Then again, it may be seeking a partner to handle smaller Coke lines such as Gold Peak Coffee. It all depends on a distributor’s size and resources. You may have an even better opening as an independent vending operator. This means developing the local market for Coke machines and/or supplying and servicing them on an established route.

Online or Phone Requests

Complete a New Business Request Form, found at CokeSolutions.com. The company needs your business name, opening date, contact information, and the product type you want to carry. Once you submit the form, a Coke rep will contact you to analyze your business and discuss any available opportunities. You can also submit the request by telephone at 800-241-COKE. (Ref 3)

About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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