Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most valuable brands for several reasons, including its stellar branding, marketing, and positioning strategy. It is one brand that has mastered the art of selling not just a product but an experience. Coca-Cola becomes ingrained in the culture of the places where it is present. It becomes ingrained in people’s lives.
Maintaining the spot as the number one beverage company in Nigeria for such a long time is no small feat. Coca-Cola alone contributes approximately 0.2 per cent of Nigeria’s annual GDP. The brand has served Nigerians longer than Nigeria has been a sovereign state. What’s the secret to its longevity?
According to Steve Olenski, a Forbes writer, brands stay long in the market because they make promises and keep to them. Since the sale of the first Coca-Cola in 1886, the brand maintained the same price for 70 years. Now, the same brand is marking its 70th year in Nigeria. But, maintaining the same price over that same period is arguably impossible in Nigeria. Many businesses have closed shop in Nigeria simply because they could not sustain a price-quality balance. Why and how has Coca-Cola remained on the scene?
The brand shared its greatest secret to longevity at a press briefing on Thursday, October 7, 2021. Alfred Olajide, Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria, expressed that the brand has always put consumers at the centre. “Nigeria as a market is very important both for Coca-Cola Africa as a unit and for the Coca-Cola company internationally. This is the most populated black nation, and more than 70 per cent of us are under 35. This is not just a strong growth opportunity for the economy but also a strong consumer base. For this reason, we have been making huge investments and are still doing so,” he said.
Nigeria’s Coca-Cola system, comprising the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Limited and Coca-Cola Nigeria Ltd, has flagged off activities marking its 70th-anniversary celebration in Nigeria, with a commitment to invest $1 billion (N560 billion) in five years. This is an upgrade from its $1 billion investment over the last ten years in Nigeria.
Prioritising the Nigerian consumer has made the Coca-Cola system thrive in the face of challenges. During the pandemic-induced lockdowns, Coca-Cola pivoted into spending more of its advertising on safety awareness. Consequently, the brand tripled sales from e-commerce. Being a people-focused brand has made the Coca-Cola system maintain eight operating plants in Nigeria, including the besieged Maiduguri. It has also spread into several community projects like the 5by20 initiative, which it claims uplifted five million women.
According to Mathieu Seguin, Managing Director of NBC, doing good is good for business. “As we continued to grow, we have been very deliberate about investing heavily to make a positive impact in the lives of people in communities where we work and operate. We believe that our business is only as sustainable as the communities in which we do business, this is why we have mainstreamed sustainability into every aspect of our business,” Seguin said.
He explained that in the last 10 years, Coca-Cola has invested more than N9 billion in raising the living standards of communities in Nigeria, where it has a presence, through locally relevant initiatives. Education, youth development, women empowerment, water, environmental sustainability, sports, and the promotion of commerce and entrepreneurship are some of the areas where the company has had the most impact.
According to Seguin, as part of its youth development efforts, the Coca-Cola System has trained over 30,000 youths on entrepreneurship and employability skills across different cities in Nigeria in the last five years. In the same period, the system also supported the creation of 58,000 jobs along its value chain.
The company’s Tech Relevant Teacher (TRT) project has impacted 24,000 school pupils, with 648 school leaders and teachers trained and several classroom blocks constructed or renovated in over 30 public schools over the last five years, affecting over 30,000 students.
Emphasising the brand’s resilient belief in the Nigerian market, Olajide said, “As we prepare for more decades of excellence and enriching moments, I believe that there are opportunities for us to learn more, listen more, and continue to tailor our beverage solutions to provide our consumers the brands they love at different phases of their lives, done sustainably for a better-shared future”.
Written by Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe