Brand owners adapt in Africa

10 April 2012

NAIROBI: Heineken, Diageo and Coca-Cola are among the firms adopting bespoke strategies to gain ground in Africa, a study by Bain & Company, the consultancy, has argued.

Heineken, the Dutch brewer, was one example cited by the report, quoted in Forbes, as making significant headway, having decided to run its own power and water treatment plants, alongside more typical factories.

This enables the organisation to reduce dependence levels on the unreliable infrastructure operating in many markets, and its African and Middle Eastern revenues are soon set to surpass €2bn per year.

Moreover, Constellation Brands, Heineken's Nigerian unit, tightly contains its spending, matching the wages of local not international rivals, and using second-hand machinery when possible.

Innovation is another core tactic for brands. Promasidor, the dairy group, has developed Cowbell powdered milk sachets in Nigeria, overcoming limited consumer access to refrigerators and fresh water.

This offering can be drunk directly rather than requiring the addition of any further constituents, thus lowering barriers to purchase and diminishing the need for a chilled supply chain.

Olam, the agricultural products firm with a packaged foods operation in Africa, has led the way in terms of insight generation, Bain & Co added, investing "heavily" in understanding shoppers and new growth categories.

The dominance of traditional retailers, taking 80% of sales in Africa, has also caused companies such as Diageo to help traders in various nations enhance their display and customer analysis skills.

Similarly, SABMiller, the brewer, has trained 12,400 South African tavern owners in fields like stock control and consumer care, boosting their sales by 31%, and reducing the number of unlicensed vendors.

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks group, has allied with governments, farmer associations and not-for-profits including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to source produce in Kenya and Uganda.

"By partnering with some 50,000 local producers, the beverage company was able to ramp up its fruit juice business - benefitting both the beverage maker and area farmers," the analysis argued.

Diageo also worked with the Kenyan government to tackle the supply of illicit, poor-quality alcohol by rolling out a superior and regulated keg, with the authorities cutting taxes to make this item more affordable.

Data sourced from Forbes/Bain & Company; additional content by Warc staff