Cola War in Nigeria (Day 1)

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I will start a daily series about the in Nigeria today and it will highlight the events in the last few years especially the marketing activities that took place during the recession and how each brand has fared in responding to changing marketing environment.

There has been a battle between the leading Cola brands in Nigeria dating some 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.

Other metrics used in the course of the war which is latent include trade incentives, trade margins and other freebies which 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).

Cola War in Nigeria (Day 1) - Brand Spur

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The Pepsi 50cl bottle 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.

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 Coca-cola to lose some volume because of the high sales in traffic.

There is a lot of volumes that go into traffic sales in Lagos which doubles as the economic capital of West Africa. The continued with each brand having its areas of strengths and competitive advantage and taking leverage of same by dominating sales in such areas.

Cola War in Nigeria (Day 1) - Brand Spur

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In 2015, a new entrant joined the in Nigeria. Big Cola, a brand with a Peruvian root came into 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).

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Cola War in Nigeria (Day 1) - Brand Spur

This volume and price war was accompanied by a lot of BTL materials. 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 celebrity adverts.

It took some time before Coca-cola reacted but they eventually did. They also reacted with a 60cl bottle. However, they have been seriously impacted before they executed their decision. Meanwhile, with the response of Pepsi and Coca-cola, prices ranged between 100 NGN and 120 NGN while Big Cola was selling their 65cl for 90 NGN with its price printed on the product. The market was silent for a while on actions and reactions until a year later when another entrant made its debut into the Nigerian market.

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Tomorrow, we look at the new entrant & other events.

Written by: 

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

For more insightful conversations, follow Oluwole Dada on Twitter  @oluwole_dada

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