The competition in Nigerian beverage drink market reminds one of the cola war of the 70s when competing brands were throwing jibes to one another via their marketing materials.
Though, recent happening in the industry may not be an ambush marketing, but it appears to be a response to competition.
The international brands, especially in the beverage industry, have over the years, found Nigeria to be a place suitable for their investment. This, analysts attribute to the market size of the country, which has a population of over one hundred and eighty million people, going by the 2006 updated census figures.
Despite security and infrastructure challenges, the nation’s population size has made it nearly impossible for investors from all over the world not to consider Nigeria as a sowing ground.
Checks by Daily Times reveal that, the intake of beverage drink in Nigeria, particularly among young adults, has become very popular in recent times. The consumption of soft drink dates back to the early 16th century with the introduction of fruit-flavored drinks. Water imperial was one of the first forms of soft drinks in Tudor England, and it was a sweetened drink with lemon flavour containing cream of tartar.
As days goes on, inventors had made significant progress in the production of carbonated mineral water, which is a major ingredient in the production of beverage drink. Since then, several companies and individuals have gone into the production of beverages which comes in different flavours such as Orange, Apple, Ginger, Cola, grape, Lemon among others.
To this end, the Coca Cola brands and the ever strong-willed Pepsi brands have held sway in the nation’s beverage drink market with different kinds of product. Coke and Pepsi, which have remained major players in the market have, over the years, grown from strength to strength without a possible overthrow in sight until a new brand entrants, ‘Bigi’ came from Ajeast Nigeria; and Bigi Cola from Rite Foods entered the category in 2016 with price- discounted brands.
Big’s inauguration of a new 650ml PET bottle at a competitive retail price of NGN100/bottle won consumers over, especially as the economy experienced poor growth and incomes dwindled. The new Bigi brand (launched late in 2016) also enjoyed demand. The two largest players, Coca-Cola Nigeria; and 7 Up Bottling Co Nigeria, countered the new entrants by introducing a new 600ml.
In an attempt to woo consumers on their side, Cocacola introduced a fifty cl PET bottle at a price of N100. In what looked like a response to competition, 7up Bottling Company joins the frenzy and introduces fifty cl PET bottle to remain relevant in the minds of their consumers.
Marketing communication tools such as; alluring advertisement, incentives, promotions, pricing, product availability, etc have been some of the efforts embarked upon by manufacturers to increase their consumer base in the market. But Irrespective of the manufacturers’ effort, without the insistent purchase of the product by consumers, the growth that the beverage market boasts of will not have been achieved.
Speaking on this issue, a brand management consultant, Roland James told Daily Times that, “Competition is the critical driver of performance and innovation. It benefits everyone by enabling people to choose from an array of excellent products at affordable prices. Competition also encourages the adoption of innovation as companies evolve and new ideas flourish in the marketplace.”
According to him; “consumers stand to gain the most from greater competition in the beverage industry in Nigeria. Fair and open competition means lower prices and greater choice.”
for James, “limiting consumers’ freedom of choice stalls innovation. Impediments to innovation are a setback for anyone who wants tomorrow’s beverage industry to be better than it is today. Market conditions that permit a single company to become the sole judge of price and quality set a dangerous precedent.”
Also speaking on this issue, a marketing analyst, Taiwo Omolabake disclosed to The Daily times that, brand handlers tend to regularly upgrade their products, as well as innovate so that they stay ahead of competition. If there was no competition, Coca-Cola and pepsi would not have been what they are today. It would still be doling out soft drinks in bottles which pose more dangers to consumers. Because the Lacasera company wanted to get ahead of competition like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and others, In the year 2001, the Nigeria CSD market experienced a rebirth as La Casera Apple Drink from the stables of Classic Beverages perforated the entire nation with a refreshing Apple soft drink in PET bottles, spiking the brand’s popularity and adoption by several consumers across the country. So, innovation is a natural advantage of having market competition.”
“In 2014, the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), makers of Coca-Cola, engaged in a direct battle with La Casera- the only apple drink with real Apple Juice concentrate in Nigeria- by introducing Fanta Apple Drink to directly compete with La Casera Apple Drink, which has already gained the love of consumers as at that time.” She added
According to her, “the advantage of having market competition is that companies are always adding value to their product. They can either increase the quality of the product, or they can decrease the prices. In either of the cases, the products become more desirable to the customer; and they feel that it is a value for money product.”
Stories by Godwin Anyebe