Some legacy brands, including Schnapps, are facing consumer apathy. Olufemi Babalogbon writes that unless their producers addressed the problem, their products may soon become extinct.
In 1985, when Chief Akin Odunsi created Seaman’s Aromatic Schnapps, the target was “the Nigerian yuppies, who seek to impress clansmen back in the village”, according to a 1987 report by New York Times’ James Brooke.
In the early 1980s, when Nigeria and Ghana experienced foreign exchange pressure, and there was a need to produce a local schnapps to replace the imported one in West Africa, the imported brands, such as Blankenheym & Nolet and De Kuyper, were the favourites of elders in the village.
At inception, Seaman’s adverts targeted youths. The TV advert in 1987 ended with ‘’Seaman’s aromatic schnapps -preferred by our elders for libations”.
This tagline was in consonance with the consumer behaviour of the yuppies who prefer to take Schnapps as a gift to the elders, who would receive the drinks, pour some as libation, and offer some prayers.
In contrast, Schnapps is a drink for the boys in the United States; so relevant that the late 2 Pack Shakur rapped about “Dripping peppermint Schnapps, with Jackie Wilson, and Sam Cooke” in his track titled: “Thugz Mansion”. Flavoured schnapps, he meant!
The brand and the millenials
Seaman’s Aromatic Schnapps is a legacy brand, just like Alabukun powder. Storied as the No 1 prayer drink, Seaman’s Schnapps thrives on festivals, the tradition of using drinks for libation, and of using drinks to pray during weddings, naming, coronations, and other forms of celebration. This proposition would be successful only as long as the culture it promotes thrives.
This year, more than half of Nigerian population is under 30, and most brands focus on them for wallet share. These youths have interests in entertainment, social drinking and culture of night-clubbing, urban culture and charismatic religious practice. Also, the elders in the village do not fancy Schnapps as a gift, except if there is a celebration. At motor parks in Lagos, where people board buses to their villages, bread-sellers get repeat purchases as bread is the common gift for the elders. These emerging consumer behaviours and lifestyles may pose some threat to the legacy brand.
Reviving the legacy brand
In a market, which gives large wallet share to beer and wine, Schnapps competes in the spirits category, which has the likes of McDowell being merchandised by Guinness Nigeria PLC, a company with 54 per cent share of the Strong Spirits Category.
Beyond the rivalry in the Spirits Category, Seaman’s Schnapps will struggle to be relevant and appeal to millennials who spend so much on spirits but are rather lovers of social brands, such as Hennessey and Johnny Walker.
A visit to various night clubs across Lagos showed that Schnapps are not being sold at these hubs of night entertainment. Gold Oark Limited has introduced some innovations, including providing Seaman’s Schnapps in handy sachets. This is successful as it gives the drink some competitive advantage and makes the product available for social drinking.
However, the use of social media to promote the brand, and the introduction of a mobile game – Seaman’s Ayo – are not sufficient to make the brand relevant to the evolving millennial culture. The Seaman’s Ayo game, which could be downloaded via google play store or played via Seaman’s Schnapps’ facebook page, is, however, a strategic consumer-engagement initiative. But the game has rather made the cultural age-long game, Ayo Olopon, relevant to millenials who ordinarily use mobile apps. It fails to make Seaman Schnapps relevant to the youth.
Against the waves of culture
The #ShareABlessing campaign of Seaman’s Schnapps uses festivals, traditional figures, aboriginal practices and traditional leaders as icons of ad messages. A key component of strategy should be the evolving culture, and not a tradition that belongs to ages past. The millenials have embraced new religious ideologies. A tongue-speaking couple would not make use of a drink for prayer. They would use a bottle of anointing oil! In Ghana, a cleric, Apostle Kwamena Ahinful, urged former President Ata Mills in the latter’s aloofness to libation at public functions.
Wrappa, a South African brand consultancy firm, warned that legacy brands die “because of rigid marketing strategies and redundant products that did not evolve”.
The brand communications being churned out by the manufacturer of Seaman’s Schnapps do not resonate with Nigerians.
During Seaman’s Centenary pack launch in 2014, executives of Grand Oak Limited reportedly said: “Consumers should embrace the centenary pack as a conveyor of their prayers for Nigeria at 100”. Those words rather reinforced ritual practice and keep the potential consumers detached from the brand, an analyst said.
The way to go
Poju Bakare, Head of Digital at Noah’s Ark, an advertising agency based in Lagos, said Seaman’s Schnapps is going to survive, if the product evolves.
Poju, an alumnus of Orange Academy, added: “What if they change the shape of the bottle to something fanciful? What if they make a luxury brand of Seaman’s and packaged it in a wooden box? What if they make flavoured varieties of Seaman’s schnapps?”
Brand Strategist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Beacon Media & Communications, Enyinnaya Iroadum-ba, advised that the campaign for the legacy brand should be refocused on millennial culture.
He explained: “If Seaman’s Schnapps must remain relevant in years to come, the product must be changed from being a prayer drink to an everyday drink.”
The book titled: “The King of Drinks: Schnapps Gin from Modernity to Tradition” by Dmtri Van Den Bersselaar, a social scientist, supported both Poju and Enyinnaya. It discusses the failure of Dutch’s Schnapps Gin in West Africa between 1980 and 2000, citing that the gin was restricted to the ritual sphere.
The book adds: “The Dutch gin distillers and importers failed to reposition gin as a modern drink that could be consumed in a wide range of circumstances.”
Therefore, the way to go for Seaman’s Aromatic Schnapps is to reposition it for social drinking. Perhaps we can have Seaman’s Flavoured Schnapps!
Written by: Olufemi Babalogbon
Culled from: http://thenationonlineng.net/consumer-behaviour-threatens-legacy-brand-seamans-schnapps/