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Big beer brands struggle to tap into shifting consumer trends

Stories by Princewill Ekwujuru

The economic contraction witnessed in the country is hitting hard on premium beer brands with consumers resorting to cheaper (value)    brands as alternative.

The value    brands available in the market include Trophy, 33 Export, Life, More, Star Lite, Goldberg and Hero.

The preference for  these    brands is occasioned by the double digit inflation rate which has reduced the purchasing power of consumers.

The premium brands are however pushing back    by recruiting    young drinkers (18+) using    Activations at musical concerts and other event sponsorship, designed to connect      them to entertainment idols.

The three big operators in Nigeria’s beer sector NB Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc brands and International Breweries (IB) are on their wits end to ensure they maintain, if not improve on their market share.     The competition between these three is intense and highly exciting especially.

However, consumers have different reasons for switching to the value    beers.   Some for the price, taste and low intoxicant level compared to the    5.5 percent level of the premium brands.

Confirming this to Vanguard Companies and Markets, a Bar Manager with Bros Bar and Restaurant at new Oko-Oba, said:    “Most customers drink    value    beers because of the economic situation adding that    a customer can buy two bottles with N500. “The volume of sales of value    beer is very high, I can confirm.”

A distributor, Onyeka Nwaneri, at Great Challenge road, Iyana Isasi, Iba Local Council Development Area, Lagos said the sales volume of beer brands   were high   during the yuletide period compared to other    period. “I sold value brands more.”

For instance, “I sold 28 cartons of Trophy, compared to 9 cartons of Heneiken, I recorded 27 cartons of 33 Export lager compared to Harp’s 7 cartons.”    A consumer, Pius Nmawuru, said he goes for the value brands due to affordability. “The economy is hard and one needs to douse the tension. One or two bottles after a hard day’s job will do no harm. Before I used to take Heneiken for N400 that means if I drink two it is N800. Before now value beer sell for N200 per bottle, today it is N250, though all this depend on the bar you go to, for the moment I will stick to the value brands until the economy improves, if I may likely switch back.”

Another consumer, known as Sam Sam said:    “Once in a while I drink the premium brand I like, but for now I have gone down the ladder, drinking the low cost beers until my pocket improves.”

To address this change in consumer preference, manufacturers of premium brands have embarked on series of innovative marketing activities to shore up their market share.

They expose their brands on billboards, TV and Radio commercial to rekindle public awareness about their brands. Promotional activities that reward consumers are another way the premium brands are trying to re-connect to their various consumers’ heart.

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