By Princewill Ekwujuru
MARKETING campaigns in the beer market may have been hampered by economic recession but leading companies in the segment appear to be unrelenting in their pursuit for additional numbers in their market share. Nigeria’s beer market is estimated to be worth about N837 billion or USD2.7 billion as at the end of last year, according to Euromonitor Research, an international marketing research group.
In the quest for this huge money, leading companies in the beer market, notably, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc and SABMiller (now AbInbev International Breweries, AIB) drove marketing campaign with about N4.6 billion in 2015, a figure the industry executives believe has gone down between 2016 and 2017. The beer manufacturers in Nigeria spent N1billion on TV ad, N0.6billion on radio and N3.0 billion on out-of-home to outsmart each other according to Mediafacts, Nigeria’s advertising and marketing research book.
“In Nigeria beer market it’s a guerrilla war, a war of cash and craftiness. It’s a war where marketing experts are confined to the boardrooms which eventually spills to the bars, clubs, pubs and the streets with all the ruthlessness of a winner-takes-all battle, said Prince Onyesi Adibe, a Brand analyst with 789Marketingngr.com, an online marketing agency.
“The revolution taking place in the market is hitting hard on premium brands, the trend has forced consumers to begin to play at the low end of the market, Managing Director of Maximus and Brothers,” Chief Romanus Onche noted. The brand-conscious middle class he said, “ is swelling and it is this demography that the three big operators are targeting with aspirational drinks such as Heineken, available in magnum-size bottles in Nigeria, and Guinness, which sells in greater quantity in the West Africa market than anywhere else.”
Continuing, he stated the less affluent Nigerians, who have limited disposable income, also represent a potentially lucrative market because of their numbers, and at the target market for the cheaper brands of beer. The Managing Director of NB, Nicholas Velverde, noted recently at the company’s annual general meeting mainstream brands contributed majorly to the company’s (NB) growth in 2016. These brands at different times have developed various marketing campaigns or sponsorship programmes to reach their target consumers.
Speaking, Corporate Affairs Adviser, NB, Kufre Ekanem, said: “Last year, we unveiled a new look star, partnering with foreign based football clubs, tapping into consumers attachment to the English Premier League, EPL, thereby deepening our market penetration strategy. We also reintroduced Life beer to Onitsha as a response to SABMiller incursion into the South-East market. Also remember, Star lager launched the ‘#Starmusicthefusion’, sponsors of the Ojude Oba festival Ogun State, Igue festival, Benin, ‘the Excellency’ campaign for Goldberg for the Western Nigeria market. All these are to reposition the brands.” Also, Marketing Director of Nigerian Breweries, NB Plc, Franco Maria Maggi, said, “the ‘#Starmusicthefusion’ activation embarked upon by Star lager beer is another way of repositioning the brand on the minds of consumers, the activation will no way affect the Mainstream brands performance. Every NB brand play in different market segments, for this reason the contribution of the Mainstream brands will not be affected. They don’t play in the same category. “The ‘#Starmusicthefusion’platform, is another way of giving Nigerians what they love and exactly how they love it, since they love music and football.”
Guinness deployed the Guinness’ ‘made of more’ campaign, led the industry’s ‘drink responsibly’ campaign. Other campaigns by Guinness include, the ‘drink IQ’, ‘Table of Men’, ‘Made of black’. Reacting to questions on the strategy that has kept the company at the Extra-ordinary General Meeting, Managing Director/CEO, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Peter Ndegwa, said he is optimistic about the company’s potentials for the future. “Guinness Nigeria is a company with excellent fundamentals and we have the right strategy and the right people to grow our business for the future.”
Speaking to Vanguard Companies & Markets on the beer brand repositionings in the market place, the Acting Corporate Relations Director at Guinness, Rotimi Odusola, said his company has continued to provide the customers and consumers with quality brands at the right prices. He also said the company is continuing to improve on its route to consumer as well as the awareness drive for all the product brands.
He also stated: “The industry will continue to be vibrant. The industry will continue to witness innovations (new brands) in the mainstream category which is obviously a good thing for the consumers. The size of the industry will continue to be shaped by the prevailing economic circumstances.” Focusing on what Guinness’ competition strategy looks like he stated: “We have taken a very holistic approach to improving the route to our consumers. So it starts from the outlets all the way back through to our manufacturing facilities making sure that our customers and consumers have adequate access to our brands wherever they are.”
Odusola pointed out other elements of the competition strategy saying, “Guinness Nigeria has always been known for quality brands. This is due to our commitment to provide our customers and consumers the highest standard of quality alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Our commitment to our consumers is defined in our quality and food safety policies. Guinness Nigeria is currently certified to Quality Management System – ISO 9001:2008, Food Safety Management System – ISO 22000:2005. The quality of our brands makes customers look forward to consuming our products.
“Second, we have looked at the value offerings of all our brands. We understand as a business that the current economic situation in the country has impacted income of our customers and consumers. As a company that is committed to our consumers and customers, we constantly review the value of our brands in order to ensure that the quality of our products can be enjoyed by our consumers’ everyday, everywhere.
“We have also invested a significant amount of capital into our spirit production line which is resident in our Benin Plant. With this line, we are now able to produce previously imported mainstream spirits locally (these are value spirit brands) and we are able to offer a wider variety of products to our consumers at a more affordable price point,” he continued.
For SABMiller (AIB) its campaign has not been very visible except for the Castle lite radio campaign. However, in 2016, AbInbev, the world’s biggest brewer acquired SABMIller, hitherto the world’s second biggest brewer and quietly launched in Nigeria and with a modest war-chest it plans to deploy to upstage NB.
Deepening their roots
Nigerian Breweries is over 60 years old and parades strong beer brands. All the major brands of NB, except Legend Extra Stout are being strengthened with campaigns and excitements geared towards deepening their roots in the hearts and minds of consumers.
The beer brands are classified into classes: Premium, National premium, Mainstream (Value brands). Heineken is assumed to be the only Premium brand produced in franchise with Nigeria Breweries, NB Plc, from Heineken, Holland. The national premium brands are Harp, Guinness stout from Guinness Nigeria Plc, Star, Gulder, Legend stout from NB. The Mainstream brands are, Goldberg, Life beer from NB, Orijin alcoholic and non alcoholic, Guinness Nigeria. While SABMiller boosts of drinks like, Castle milk stout, Hero lager, Club, Eagle and Trophy etc.
In recent time, these three big operators are on their wits end to ensure they maintain, if not improve on their market share, share voice and visibility on store shelves. Vanguard investigation show that the trio are making sure they supply enough of their various brands to the market. Today in Nigeria beer is a big business and it is growing every day, despite bashing from various religion. It is expanding at above 10 percent annually, said Harris Udong, a former Master Brewer in NB. He said: “The average per capita consumption though is still a little above 10 litres a year.”