Cola War in Nigeria (Day 4)

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Another strategy that will enable any brand to survive in this age of stiff competition is its ability to defend its stronghold. No one fights a battle on all fronts without consolidating on areas of strengths and expects to win. There is always an area where you are strong and the competitor is weak. To win this war and sustain victory, you need to look for the area or location where you are strong and you must do everything possible to maintain and sustain dominance in that area or location. Your area of strength could be in terms of channels. By this, I mean, traditional trade, modern trade, hotels, restaurants and canteens and it could be the street hawking as it is seen in Lagos, Nigeria. Your area of strength could also be in terms of distribution. If you are the strongest brand in traffic sales, you can find a way to lock down the hawkers through a scheme that may be difficult for any other competitor to beat. You must be creative about protecting your stronghold. Hold on to it and keep it from falling. It is no doubt today that Coca-cola has the strongest network of distributors and retailers in Nigeria but that alone does not guarantee their success. A smart competitor will only need to look for an area where Coca-cola is weak and they will assume dominance there.
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Other areas of strength could be price. This area is what the three new entrants are using to fight the big two and they are making waves with Bigi Cola leading the pack. If the price has been responsible for their success, they must defend that position. The new entrants who have ridden on the wings of penetration strategy to gain market share (MS) shouldn’t let that success get into their head and start thinking they can increase their price anyhow. They must continue to leverage on that till a substantial MS is gained.
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Another area of strength could be your people. If you’ve skilful and dedicated salesmen, you must avoid losing them to the competition. There are salesmen that leave & goes with their distributors. Treat your people well. Don’t treat them like trash. They’re your treasures. Your area of strength could be a location or territory where you have the highest sales amidst your competition. The high sales could be due to your acceptability, your distribution network, your skilled sales team, your distributors or even your price. Whatever it is that is responsible for your high sales among your competitors must be investigated and protected. That is the way to defend your stronghold and prevent it from falling to the hands of the “enemy”. Marketing is war and you must approach it that way.
Stop your competitors from gaining an advantage in markets, channels or territories where you are strong. Develop the market much more. Continue to operate where you are weak so as not to leave any stone unturned but also ensure you guard your stronghold jealously. Tomorrow we will continue by reviewing how you can defend your stronghold with the aid of distributors. Who is winning the ? You will know at the end of this series. 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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