Consumers’ love for La Casera, a carbonated soft drink (CSD), produced by The La Casera Company Plc., is waxing cold as many have dumped the legendary apple drink for Bigi Apple.
Bigi drinks from the stables of Rite Foods Limited comes in four variants – Bigi Lemon-lime, Bigi Cola, Bigi Apple and Bigi Orange.
BusinessDay survey around retail stores in Lagos metropolis over the weekend revealed that Bigi Apple which is barely two years ago in the market has warmed its way into the hearts of consumers and has become the darling of many.
Retailers who spoke with BusinessDay said the demand for Bigi Apple drink far exceeds that of La Casera. Both drinks are retailed at N100 per Pet bottle. So, consumer shift is not about the price.
In some of the big stores visited, Bigi Apple drinks were visible on the shelves with no bottle of La Casera drink in sight. Other stores had both drink displaced but it was more of Bigi Apple drink and less of La Casera.
‘‘If I buy twelve cartons of Bigi Apple and three cartons of La Casera, I will sell off all the Bigi Apple drinks and still have a carton and half of La Casera left,’’ said a manager at a big retail store in Ikeja.
Another retailer in Mushin area of Lagos who gave her name as Damilola said consumers are shying away from La Casera because of the strong chemical used in producing the drink.
‘‘We had to stop selling La Casera because customers don’t buy it. If we buy La Casera, it can stay here (our store) for months,’’ said Damilola.
‘‘They (consumers) told me the chemical in La Casera is very strong and the drink is used to loosen bolts that have rusted for many years. I tried it and found it to be true,’’ she said.
At Lekki, a retailer told BusinessDay that consumers only demand La Casera when Bigi Apple is not available.
‘‘When customers ask for Bigi Apple and I tell them it’s finished, they walk away but a few buy La Casera,’’ the retailer said.
On why they prefer Bigi Apple drink to La Casera, consumers say the taste is unique.
‘‘I was a huge fan of La Casera for years. I always enjoy the drink with gala sausage roll,’’ said Adeola Oladiran, a nurse. ‘‘But when I tasted Bigi Apple, I was hooked. I just love the taste.’’
Ifunanya Uzoma said: ‘‘Bigi Apple has this unique taste that gives you the feeling that you are drinking freshly juiced apple. La Casera is too harsh. If I must drink it, I have to dilute in water.’’
BusinessDay got hints of expired La Casera drinks retailed in some markets for half the price under the guise that the company has plans to phase-out the bottle and introduce a new one.
When BusinessDay visited the markets, retailers confirmed the story but said the retailer disappeared when someone drew buyers’ attention to the expiry date.
‘‘A man came here two Saturdays ago, and sold a bottle for N50,’’ said a retailer at Ketu market who deals in watermelon. ‘‘I had already drunk some when I learned the drink expired August last year.’’
But consumers who were wise enough did not fall for this gimmick.
‘‘The man stood beside me while he sold but I did not look his way,’’ said a middle-aged woman who sold Alvacado pears. ‘‘I knew there was something wrong with the drink.’’
While some consumers who bought the drink were angered to know they were sold expired drinks, a few weren’t.
‘‘I tasted the drink and it still tastes like La Casera,’’ said an Orange retailer. ‘‘If your time to die has come, you will die. An expired drink does not harm anyone.’’