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There has been a battle between the two leading Cola brands in Nigeria dating several decades back. The war has always been predicated on price, volume and campaign activities. These are indices that can be noticed easily by the consumers however there are other metrics that are latent and which are used in the course of the war. These include trade incentives, trade margins and other freebies that are given to the trade partners.

I may not be wrong to say that Pepsi was the first to introduce the 50cl bottle (volume war) and was selling at the same price that Coca-cola was selling their 35cl bottle (price war) and in the course of time, Coca-cola reacted with some aggressive advertisement and promotions (campaign war). This continued over time and a time came when the trade margin of Coca-cola products made the hawkers who sell in traffic in Lagos, Nigeria to drop it for a more preferred Pepsi and its other flavours.

This obviously would have led to Coca-cola losing some volume because a lot of sales go into the traffic sales in Lagos which doubles as the economic capital of West Africa. The war continued with each brand having its location of strengths and taking advantage of same by dominating the sales in such areas.

Recently, a new entrant joined the Cola war in Nigeria. Big Cola, a brand with a Peruvian origin came in to the market with a penetration strategy using price. They upstaged the market by introducing a 65cl bottle (volume war) at a reduced price of 90 NGN (price war) with a lot of BTL materials to accompany it. This really rattled the market leaders and Pepsi was the first to react with “long throat” (a 60cl bottle).They also embarked on media campaign with ATL promotions leveraging on celebrities as part of the advertisement. It took some time before Coca-cola reacted but they eventually did. They also reacted with a 60cl bottle.


However, I am sure they must have been seriously impacted before they executed their decision. Meanwhile, with the response of Pepsi and Coca-cola, their prices ranged between 100 NGN and 120 NGN while Big Cola was selling their 65cl bottle for 90 NGN with its price printed on the product. The market was silent for a while on actions and reactions until some months back. Coca-cola brought back 35cl PET selling it at 100 NGN and moved the price of 60cl PET to 150 NGN. This was actually an offensive in the Cola war.

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The 35cl PET started selling like wild fire. The feedback from the trade was awesome on the 35cl PET. At this point, I suspect (not a confirmation) that Big Cola was battling with the sustainability of their trade and marketing activities. I believe they went on a retreat. Coca-cola followed their offensive action with massive advertisement both on BTL and ATL with the rhyme “Solo and Big Boy”. Pepsi followed as well with a reaction by bringing down the price of their 60cl which was earlier sold at 120 NGN to 100 NGN and followed it with aggressive campaign that have not been seen in a while.

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Pepsi is having a media campaign conspicuously seen on bill boards showing their new price with a rhyme “No Shaking, Carry Go”. This is also heard in a lot of radio jingles. One of the recent promotional activities of Pepsi was the offering of free movement to motorists across one of the toll gates in Lagos, Nigeria for an hour during peak period on a certain day. The battle obviously is getting fiercer and the war is getting hotter however the consumer is the winner at the end of it all. Consumers are now left to choose between Coca-cola 35cl at 100 NGN or 60cl at 150 NGN or Pepsi 50cl at 100 NGN or Big Cola 65cl at 100 NGN. Market analysts are also watching to see who will win the war at the end of the day

Written by: Oluwole Dada, (Regional Sales Manager at Nestle Nig. Plc; Member, Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK))

This article was also published on

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