About N60bn was spent on marketing and other promotional activities by the top three brewers in Nigeria in 2018, the highest that the sector had spent since 2016.
Nigerian Breweries, which controls more than 50 per cent of the industry’s market share, led the chart with close to N24bn devoted to marketing. This was more than N1bn more than it spent in 2017 and 2016 where its marketing budget stood at N22.4bn and N22.3bn respectively.
Surprisingly, the next biggest spender is no longer Guinness Nigeria, which for years had been on the tail of NB in terms of a marketing expenditure, as the two companies grapple for market leadership. That spot went to International Breweries, which was acquired by SABMiller (later bought over by ABinBev, the world’s largest brewery company by revenue) and spent over N20bn on marketing in 2018.
By 2016, just before the acquisition deal was consummated, International Breweries was a fringe player in the sector and it reflected in its marketing spend, which was a mere N3.5bn compared to Guinness Nigeria, which was more than N8bn and that of Nigerian Breweries stood at a whopping N22.3bn.
But as soon as ABinBev completed the acquisition of IB Plc, the company underlined its ambition in Nigeria with a rapid increase in its marketing and advertising budget, which rose to over N6bn in 2017. That figure was more than tripled as it galloped to about N21bn in 2018 against Guinness Nigeria’s N12bn for the same period.
A lot of AbinBev’s marketing spend have gone into the execution of its regional marketing strategies, which the company pioneered in Nigeria. This strategy led to the launch of Hero larger beer and Trophy, which have become leaders in their various regional markets.
According to a brand analyst, Ganiyu Olowu, AbInBevdidn’t just pour money into advertising; they were very strategic.
“The manner in which SABMiller sneaked up on Nigeria’s biggest brewers is no cheerful news to the ABinBev’s competitors in the beer market.
“Rather than go with the usual fanfare that follows the launch of a new product, the brand capitalised on the heroic status of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in the East and launched the product during his burial. It was not actually a ‘launch’; it was more like a massive release during the burial of the Biafran war hero. From then on, it found love with the people and it had to take the release of Life Lager by Nigerian Breweries to curb the harm it was doing to other brands in the market,” he said.
To consolidate on the success of its regional product, ABinBev soon introduced a number of its top global brands into the Nigerian market to competitors.
The company introduced brands like Castle Lite into the market, which NB has tried to match with the introduction of Star Lite, and soon after it introduced Budweiser, and NB followed up with the launch of Tiger.