March 3, 2005
Selling booze: alcohol marketing in Nigeria A paper given at the Valencia Conference. Isidore S. Obot, Ph.D., M.P.H. & Akan J. Ibanga, M.Sc. Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA) INTRODUCTION The Alcohol Industry in Nigeria.
A Brief History Soon after the NBC (which became the Nigeria Brewing Limited, NBL, and now the Nigeria Brewing Plc) started production in Nigeria, a company was formed to import Guinness extra stout into the country from Ireland. The popularity of this brand led to the establishment of a Guinness brewery in Lagos in 1962. It is noteworthy that this was the first Guinness brewery outside the United Kingdom and only the third in the world.
It was a very profitable business decision. Like the NB Plc, Guinness has recorded tremendous growth in production over the years. Today it has three breweries in the country and, apart from its flagship stout product, also produces a popular lager brand - Harp lager beer. NB Plc and Guinness Nigeria are the two of the most nationally well-known concerns in Nigeria.
They are also the two largest capitalised companies in the Nigerian stock exchange. With 6.2% of the total market capitalisation of the stock exchange, NB Plc leads the list of 188 companies and Guinness follows closely behind (Uzor, 1999). Their products, especially Star beer and Guinness extra stout, are staple products in the Nigerian market. Both companies often boast of their significant contributions to the economy, in particular, through the taxes they pay into government coffers. Success breeds competitors.
With the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970 and the sudden rise in oil revenues in 1973 occasioned by the Arab oil embargo, the country was awash with capital and investing in the beer industry became a major preoccupation of state governments and individuals. At its height in the late 197Os, the sector recorded over 30 breweries in the country. However, a combination of factors, the most significant of which was a significant slide in economic fortunes, led to the closure of many of these breweries by the middle of the 1980s.
The regional brands, owned by state governments and individuals, were particularly hard hit. About 3 in 4 of these disappeared from the scene by 1996. Less than 15 breweries survived and have been operating since then. Though the volume of beer produced in the country showed some increase between 1984 and 1994, the level of production was well below installed capacity. Today, the brewing sector seems poised for another round of unprecedented growth, in spite of the introduction of Sharia laws in some states in the country. While celebrating Guinness\' Golden Jubilee last year, the managing director of the company predicted a bright future for the industry.
'The introduction of democracy in the country is a good thing in favour of our business.\' One of the \'benefits\' of democracy is that the economic liberalisation programme of the government is attracting a flow of capital into different sectors of the economy and large manufacturing concerns like the South African Breweries (SAB) are showing interest in the country. Liberalisation has also opened the Nigerian market to all types of imported alcoholic beverages from all parts of the world. In addition, the removal of excise duty in 1998 helped the sector cut prices, increase turnover and enhance profits. In the midst of this, both the NBL and Guinness continue to thrive (as shown in Table 2) and between them a war of attrition is brewing.
The line of battle: beer marketing in Nigeria Guinness\' Michael Power That is not his real name but he is one of the most well-known figures in Nigeria. On billboards, radio and television, Michael Power has become the leading salesman of Guinness extra stout. Not much is known about Power.
His real identity is a closely kept secret at Guinness Nigeria. The little that is known about him is that he is an actor, a model, of African descent and lives in the U.S. What is certain is that Michael Power is a creation of Guinness. The nom de guerre was chosen to enhance the long standing image of Guinness extra stout.
Even before Power added his charm to the marketing of the stout, Guinness was associated with strength and sexual virility. It is not surprising, therefore, among the many lovers of the beverage, Guinness is called 'black power' and Viagra. Using Michael Power as the point man, the company has embarked on an intensive marketing campaign totally different from what the industry has ever seen. Instead of a straightforward sales pitch, Power is made the hero in a series of mini-adventures on radio and television, all of which are aimed at highlighting the good qualities of the beverage, namely:
Power plays the superman who saves the young woman from danger; Power is the guest at a surprise birthday party given by many of his close friends; Power is everywhere. So much is the popularity of this actor-hero that his visit to Nigeria in December 2001 was one of the most reported events in the newspapers.
The visit provided Nigerians with the opportunity to see this well-known Guinness pitch-man and he did not disappoint. Nigeria was his first stop in a professionally packaged West African tour to film 'shorts' for Guinness. He described the project in glowing terms.
We are focusing on stories that bring the true strength of Africa. We want to highlight the way we live, the way we talk, the way we play and the way we do everything that makes us unique as Africans (Ukpaukure, 2001, p. 36).
In this interview there was no mention of selling stout but his remarks were interspersed with sips of the drink - a drink he described as 'this good product'. Star\'s Oversize Bottle One of the most visible structures in selected Nigerian cities is the oversized 'Star' bottle.
The Nigerian Breweries Plc (NB Plc) launched a campaign in 2001 to change the shape of the bottle containing its premier brew - Star beer - by displaying in strategic urban locations a bottle of Star so large that it can be seen from miles away.
This marketing ploy has attracted extensive attention all over the country but it has not all been positive. In one city, negative reactions to the display led to a dismantling of the bottle. However, from a sales point of view, the new bottle strategy seems to have been effective. According to the company, the bottle was well received by drinkers and sales went up when it was introduced. According to the marketing director of the company, 'The introduction of the new bottle brought a sudden revival in consumer interest for Star and at the moment Star is Nigeria's favourite beer. . . .
Star is now the beer of pleasure, fun, leisure and shared drinking.' This strategy is an attempt by the number one beer maker to enhance its separate identity as the leading brewer in Nigeria. NB Plc has 8O per cent of the lager segment of the brewing industry but wants 98 per cent. The company's long term strategy is aimed at repeating the story of dominance of the beer brewing sector which SAB has recorded in South Africa.
Therefore, marketing has become a major area of concern for the company. In a recent interview the CEO was very clear about this: We brought new people into marketing, we decentralised the customer service division and placed responsibilities lower in the organisation in all divisions of the company: technical, human resources, financial and general management. We looked at the entire company. It is our task as management to make sure that we have the right people in the right place at the right time\' (Elesho, 200 1, p.10).
Gulder: the beer of success Another weapon in NB Plc\'s war chest is its chief executive. Attractive, urbane and avowedly intelligent, the head of the company has become its most visible salesman. In one recent outing as the guest lecturer at the Second National Essay Competition Awards night organized by the Nigerian Stock Exchange for secondary school children, he promised one million a year for five years from his company.
The picture in the newspaper shows him sitting in front of the school children with a bottle of Gulder and half a glass of the drink. He was drinking in front of the children. The story points to a possible link between his behaviour and what the children might do in future. "Without saying it the children must have taken away the impression that Gulder is good for you when you attain success - just the way [he] sipped the lager after his inspiring lecture" (Ola, 2001, p. 18). Other Alcohol Marketing Strategies In the past two years (i.e., 2000-2001), the alcohol industry, especially the brewing sub-sector, has been involved in a variety of marketing activities, almost all of these by the two largest brewers in the country - Nigeria Brewing Plc and Guinness (Nig) Ltd. Much of the effort has been targeted at youth. Focus on Youth
The Heinken company now owns majority shares in NB Plc. after many years of working closely with the local brewery. Mass media advertising Most of the promotional activities listed above are targeted at particular sectors of the Nigerian society. In recent years the alcohol industry has also expanded mass media advertising which are aimed at the general public. The focus of mass media advertising has been:
Legend stout is positioning itself as the competitor to Guinness, the premier stout in the country. Guinness dominated the market for over 30 years. Legend re-launched its campaign last year with the theme: 'Torch of inspiration\' with an Olympics torch logo, in its continued effort to appeal to the youthful segment of the market.
No one believes that the battle between the two brewers will end like its biblical predecessor. Guinness is so entrenched in the consciousness of Nigerians and has such a loyal following that the best that Legend can wish for is to increase its share of the stout market. Because it is the product of the number one brewer and a company with the highest capitalization in the country, there is a good chance it might do that.
The on-going campaign by the brewers of Legend to reposition the brand is estimated to cost the company Nl20 million. This money will be spent on prizes for competitions, gifts like CD players, T-shirts, pens, caps and mugs, and free drinks. How 'Legend' sees itself In a sponsored feature story in a business weekly, the NB Plc, brewers of Legend, described the stout in these terms:
? Legend is different from Guinness because it is less bitter.
? Legend is a 'fun stout' and 'goes down well with the body.'
? Competing brands are 'punitive.'
? There is no hangover with Legend.
? Legend is a modem and youthful beverage.'
? Legend has 'food value' because it is fortified with essential vitamins.
? Legend\'s profile is that of 'strength and character, strong commitment, courage and leadership drive.
? Legend is 'energetic, independent and dependable.' Legend adopted the thematic approach to marketing almost from the start. In the current campaign known as the 'Cool breeze promotion, the company will distribute 2.4 million prizes of different types. Over the years messages in advertising campaigns have tried to project a certain image of the drink in attempt to position itself against the leading stout - Guinness. From 1992 to 2001 the slogans have changed as shown below:
? 1992: 'Light up your life' - projecting modernity and excitement
? 1994: 'Now so much better, projecting ideal stout values.'
? 1999: 'Good stout and a friendly price.'
? 2001: 'Life is much fun with Legend.'
The Hotspot Scheme is one of its most imaginative marketing strategies. Like Coca-Cola and British American Tobacco, NB Plc plans to open up to 500 hotspots or Legend consumption centres around the country to bring the drink closer to the people.
The recent increase in the price of alcoholic beverages announced in March 2002 has provided another avenue for NB PLC (producers of Legend) and Guinness to go after each other. The price of Legend has been increased but Guinness has refused to raise it prices. In big banner ads in the newspapers, Guinness has been announcing that 'Our prices have not increased.. ..Because we care' and there have been many stories in major newspapers with captions like: 'Guinness adamant, as breweries raise products' prices,' 'Distributors hail Guinness' rejection of price hike.' It is not clear how these strategies are working for the producers of the beverage as they continue in their bid to upstage Guinness but it seems the battle has only just begun.
Alcohol Advertising: What the People See In an attempt to understand how people perceive alcohol advertisements, that is, to measure what they see in these ads, a small study was conducted in one town in central Nigeria. Twenty participants (10 men and 10 women) who were visiting a public library were approached by one interviewer and asked to respond to questions about two selected alcohol ads.
The ads were taken from newspapers and qualified for use in the study because they were of popular beer brands and contained pictures of people (men and women).
Only people who had seen the ads at least once before were included in the study. Most of them (75%) said they were non-drinkers. Some of the questions asked were:
? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see the ad?
? What do you see in the ad? In other words, what does this ad say to you?
? Does the ad attract you? In other words, if you saw this ad in a newspaper/magazine would it attract your attention?
? What do you think is the message of the ad?
? At whom do you think the ad is aimed?
? How are men and women shown in the ad?
? Do you think you will buy the product after seeing the ad?
? Procedure The first ad used in the study was of '33' beer and the second was of Guinness stout.
Each respondent was shown the ads one after the other and two sets of responses to the seven questions above were collected from each participant.
Responses were recorded verbatim and background information was also collected.
Summary of findings The '33' ad: Equal numbers of respondents found this ad attractive and unattractive. The attractiveness was due to the 'happiness' displayed in the picture and the 'fine clothes' worn by the women in the ad. For example, one of the respondents said that the 'faces of the people in the picture are inviting.'
Another said that 'the people shown seem to be enjoying themselves.' Among those who did not find the ad attractive the main reason was their distaste of alcohol or because the quality of the picture was poor.
The main themes expressed in connection with this ad were:
1. fun, joy and happiness,
2. success and prestige,
3. friendship and togetherness.
4. In responding to what they thought was the message of the advertisement, most respondents were clear as to its purpose.
The ad is telling people to drink. 'The newspaper is promoting beer.' 'The ad is to make people drink; increase sales. 'People should drink beer. In spite of this perception, almost all of the respondents (85%) said that seeing the ad would not make them buy the product.
The Guinness advertisement: Nearly all respondents found this advertisement attractive.
The reasons given for this assessment included the following: dominant colour and background, lot of action in the picture, people look fresh and active, arouses emotional feelings towards women. Non-drinkers were the only respondents who did not like the advertisement.
The themes that emerged from the Guinness advertisement were different for men and women. Women emphasised action and power, men emphasised \'attractiveness.
The main personality in the ad was Michael Power and he played the role of a protector of women. Other themes in the ad were \'enjoyment\' and adventure. Like the first ad, this one was also seen for what it was meant, that is to get young people, in particular, to drink Guinness. However, non-drinkers said that the ad would not make them drink.
Like in most parts of the world, the alcohol industry in Nigeria spends a lot of money in advertising alcoholic beverages with the hope of attracting customers to the brew. It is not clear how well alcohol ad messages work compared to other forms of marketing the beverage. However, it seems that whether through advertising or other experiences, alcohol has come to be associated with very positive qualities in Nigeria.
Two of the most recurring qualities are related to the positive effects on the health of the consumer and the enhancement of power (i.e., energy, strength). Health: Several beverages (e.g., Bachuus Tonic Wine, Guinness Stout, and Legend Extra Stout) crave the image of a tonic.
This goes back many years to the early days of alcohol advertising in Nigeria and is not just peculiar to Africa. For example, a colonial era ad for J. Van Telman's Pure Scheidam Schnapps touted the liqueur as a safe and reliable remedy for a very long list of ailments, including diarrhoea, fever, and liver complaints. If a particular beer or wine does not directly affect the health status of the consumer, the image makers make us believe that it is at least not associated with negative after effects.
This is a strong selling point for several drinks, particularly Harp beer from the house of Guinness. According to the brand manager, one of the core values of the new Harp (apart from maintaining a clean breath after consuming the beverage) is that there is no more hangover after taking Harp.
[A] person who takes Harp beer in the evening can still wake up in the morning feeling strong enough to go about his chores or even participate in an early morning aerobic session or jogging, as he will be clear headed (Ajayi, 2001, p33).
This, of course, should be of concern to the young, upwardly mobile urbanites whom the company is addressing in its renewed marketing efforts. Power: Guinness brings out the power in you,\' the popular jingle goes.
As stated earlier, the Guinness company organises its ad around Michael Power. His voice is used in radio and television ads, and he is the star of playlets and short movies on radio and TV, respectively. In these performances Michael Power is the hero who saves young women from destruction by evil forces and the man whose friends organise a private party on his birthday.
The marketing of wine and spirits By 1988 there were 13 winemakers and spirit distilleries in the country. Both in terms of production volume and revenue, substantial increases were recorded between 1985 and 1988. However, like their beer counterpart, the spirit and wine industry was damaged as a result of the economic collapse which started in the 1980s. Today there are imported wines and liquor in the Nigerian market from all over the world though these beverages are advertised less aggressively than beer.
With names like Squadron and Bond 7, local makers of whisky seem to focus on machismo and aim to attract the type of consumer already consuming the locally made gin - ogogoro. In the same way that an ogogoro drinker can buy one shot at a time at the street comer, Squadron can be purchased in min-packs containing the equivalent of one shot. Because of the similarity of this packaging to ice cream, the producers have been accused of consciously targeting their drinks at youth. Conclusion It is not surprising that most of the marketing activities of the alcohol industry in Nigeria seem to be directed at youth and young adults.
About 54% of Nigerians are below the age of 20 years and a sizeable proportion of young adults have become part of the global economy. Hundreds of thousands graduate from universities and high schools each year and move to large urban areas to seek employment. While most do not find regular work, the industry can count on them to fill the stadium for a Shaggy concert or the plaza for an Easter party where booze is offered free and brand loyalty is nurtured. References Ajayi, S. (2001). Harp: in search of the right symphony. Thisday, 26 November, p. 33. Akerele, A.O. (1993).
Supply of alcohol: a major determinent of alcohol consumption and abuse. In I.S. Obot (ed.), Epidemiology and control of substance abuse in Nigeria. Pp. 45-5 1. Jos: Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse. Elesho, R. (2001). Epic tale of beer in Nigeria. The News, 3 1 December, pp.2-3. Federal Office of Statistics (1995). Annual abstract of statistics (1995 ed). Lagos: FOS Ola, B. (2001). The brewer\'s story. Financial Standard, 12 November, p. 18. Ukpaukure, H. (2001). When Michael Power came visiting. Financial Standard, 17 December, p.36.