The Sallah break was the period used by a lot of Nigerians to beat a fast retreat from the drudgery of their everyday jobs to various holiday spots preferably outside their towns and cities of residence.
The Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway witnessed its own share of the commuters departing Lagos, with the hawkers capitalising on the dense flow of vehicular movement to sell off their wares. It was observed that majority of the drink-hawkers displayed PepsiCo’s products. The Cola war is real.
The year started with all the cola brands increasing their prices in response to inflation and foreign exchange (forex) pressure. BIG Cola, a relatively new entrant manufactured by AJE Group, started selling 65cl PET at the rate of N100 per unit and later the price increased to N130. Coca-cola increased the volume of the PET from 50cl to 60cl and it sells for N150. Pepsi’s 50cl PET was selling for N120 until July 25, 2017 when the price crashed to N100. Coca-cola’s competitive response was the re-introduction of Solo Coke, a 35cl PET, which sells for N100.
In Ikorodu, the fastest growing suburb of Lagos metropolis, Pepsi is selling more than the other brands. Mummy Basit Store at TOS Benson Road, sells soft drinks in both wholesale and retail options. The owner of the store said Pepsi has been selling more relative to other brands. According to the workers at Alubarika Food Canteen, Ayanbure Road, customers demanded for Pepsi only. However, at Shehuma Bar, Coke’s 60cl bottle was hotcake, as customers needed it to mix alcoholic drinks. Fatmot Restaurant at Ayangbure Road sells more of Pepsi; the owner said her customers rarely ask for Coke and Big Cola.
The story is a little bit different in Ibadan, Oyo State capital. The popular Sky Amala Restaurant at Bodija sells only Coca-cola products and their customers have never complained about the price of Coke.
This is the same with Ola Mummy Canteen at Bodija Ojurin; and Ultima Executive Restaurant at Bodija-Secretariat. Mummy Helen Canteen at J Allen, Dugbe, also sells only Coca-Cola products but recorded dip in sales on the 60cl PET. For this same reason, Iya Azi Canteen at Mokola Roundabout said she has stopped stocking the 60cl PET Coke.
In a country where most people live below a dollar per day, price crash would matter a lot. Most cola drink-lovers do not know the difference in cl; many do not even understand the meaning of cl. “Coke’s big bottle is N150, while same bottle for Pepsi is N100”, said Funke, one of the passengers in transit on Lagos-Abeokuta expressway last Friday. The 10cl difference is not obvious to consumers; rather the 15cl difference between Pepsi’s 50cl and Solo Coke is very visible to their eyes.
A consumer asked: “Pepsi is big, while Coke Solo is small, so why should I buy the small one for N100?”
However, Sanni, a student and customer of Libra Kitchen, University of Ibadan also said he took the 60cl Coke. Charles, a customer of Honey Food Canteen, Bodija Market in Ibadan, said he takes Big Cola irrespective of the price. He would prefer 60cl PET Coke over the Solo Coke. Some do not see value in a smaller pack which goes for a lower price. While Solo Coke is a good retaliatory strategy, many say the volume of 35cl does not satisfy them.
Pepsi Cola is using every medium available to push the #NoShakingCarryGo campaign to reinforce its low-price appeal. #NoSha-kingCarryGo Bus Rides have been going from one location to the other within Lagos, giving free BRT tickets and free Pepsi to commuters. This marketing rave has been taken to Lekki Toll Gate and BRT terminals at Berger, Obalende, Mile 12, TBS and Ikorodu. A customer, commenting on the campaign, said consumers are now becoming aware of Pepsi’s great taste.
Pepsi’s #NoShaking-CarryGo’s advert says nothing about the uniqueness of Pepsi’s brand – all it says is “Pepsi is now N100”. This is the right time for a competitor to rather reinforce its’ own brand. Coke’s proposition is a bottled Happiness, and Coca-cola Nigeria is rather focused on promoting the global “Share a Coke” campaign. Cocacola has taken “Share a Coke” beyond replacing the brand icon with Nigerian names; the company has produced over 1, 000 songs using common names of Nigerians. The brand seems not to lose focus of the global strategy of “One Brand” despite the Cola War in Nigeria.
The Chief Executive Officer, Contagious 128 Media, a digital marketing agency based in Lagos, Sola Adewumi, said: “When you have the equity, then you can play with pricing.”
Sola, who has worked on many multinational brands, said PepsiCo and Coca-cola have the capacity to cut prices without having far-reaching effect on their brands in the long run because they are not at the brand-building stage. “Pepsi and Coke are both at the stage of taking their consumers from loyalty to addiction; only the new entrants would suffer in this price war,” he added.
The founder of Disrupt Digital, David Idagu Goldfinger, agrees no less with Sola. He added that the consumers’ loyalty “will lie with any of the brands that offer them a good deal as their target audience (class C & D) is more sensitive to price than branding.”
Goldfinger, a PR consultant, believes the consumers will be on the winning side eventually. Sola expects Pepsi’s contenders to also bring down their prices. “The consumers will be surprised to discover that the other brands also have the capacity to bring down their prices,” he said.
“As we remember Glo Mobile for the per-second billing introduced in the telecom industry, we will remember Pepsi for disrupting this market to favour consumers,” an analyst said.