CASABLANCA: Coca-Cola is aiming to increase the brand’s penetration across North Africa, investing in new bottling plants and strengthening its distribution in order to reach consumers who drink little or no Coke, the brand’s top executive in the region has said.

According to Imad Benmoussa, Coca-Cola director for Egypt and North Africa, the growth in value for the non-alcoholic drinks sector across his area will be 5% to 6% over the next few years, compared with just 1% to 2% in Europe and North America.

“This strong potential is due to economic growth, rising buying power, urbanisation and the fact that the sector is poorly diversified,” he told The Africa Report.

“Fizzy drinks account for 40% of the market, water 35-40% and juice 15-20%,” he added. “That leaves room for innovations like ready-to-consume tea and coffee and also for energy drinks.”

But more importantly, Benmoussa revealed that, in some countries in the region, a survey had found that 40% of consumers had not had a Coca-Cola in the preceding 30 days. “Our top goal is thus to penetrate our markets more,” he stated.

“What is important is not that those who drink Coke drink more, but that those who do not drink Coke get to know us.”

And crucial to this exercise is increasing availability in order to satisfy impulse purchases, he explained. “That is why we set goals each year for the number of new points of sale.”

The company currently has around 700,000 points of sale in the region, including some unexpected ones.

“You have to be creative and adapt,” said Benmoussa. “In Morocco, for example, we had the idea to offer little refrigerators to dried-fruit sellers, who are numerous out there on the streets, which helped us to improve our penetration rate.”

Overall, he indicated there would be some $500m in industrial, commercial and marketing investment over the next three years – $200m in the Maghreb and $300m in Libya, Egypt and the two Sudans.

The extent of marketing investment in each country, he added, depends on a number of variables, including the brand portfolio and the level of competition.

Sourced from The Africa Report; additional content by WARC staff