How brewers are selling beer with folklore

As Nigeria’s recession deepens and consumers pockets are squeezed, majority of those still drinking have shifted their beer preferences to value or low cost brands.

Nigerian Breweries Plc, the country’s leading brewer recently re-launched Goldberg Lager, one of its low cost brands as “Your Excellency” in a new credential campaign.

The brand handlers said that “Your Excellency, as an appellation for Goldberg reinforces its leading position in the market”.

Patrick Olowokere, Corporate Communications Brand PR Manager, Nigerian Breweries Plc, said “As you know, the honorific ‘Your Excellency’ is used to address the highest authorities in many political, religious and monarchical circles. As a beer brewed to golden standards by the master brewer, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Goldberg’s excellent credentials earns it the name ‘Your Excellency’ among its peers”.

Brewers have learnt that consumers have a personal attachment to their beer of choice. It is more than just a beer. It is the consumer feeling that they have a personal relationship with their beer. The former SABMiller CEO, Allan Clarke once said:

People badge themselves with beer. It has an emotional content,” he adds.

It is no coincidence that Goldberg is a big sponsor of some of the biggest cultural festivals in the South West of Nigeria such as the Osun Osogbo festival, the Ojude Oba festival, the Udiroko festival, the Fuji to Bam music contest and the recent installation of the new Oba of Benin. What it shows is that the brand occupies a class of its own in adding value to the way of life of the people.

value-segment

And just like Goldberg Lager, SABMiller, former owners of Trophy Lager beer, (now owned by AB InBev) which is marketed in the south west of the country re-introduced the brand back in 2012, after repackaging it in a new 330ml CAN with an attractive label.

At the time, the Commercial Director, SABMiller Nigeria, Mr. Andre Lubbe, said that the re-introduction of the brand “had given rise to a new identity that really communicates the intrinsic values of the brand both in terms of emotional and rational beliefs as well as to build long lasting aspiration for Trophy Lager”. Lubbe went on to say that the brand has added a new title ‘Honourable’ as part of its positioning, to be the first among equals and the leader of the social group.

Thereafter with the title Honourable which is used to describe respected members of the society and community, first among equals and the leader of any social group, Trophy Lager’s new title symbolizes deserved respect, being a beer well cherished and appreciated amongst the South-Westerners,” Lubbe said.

Continuing, Lubbe maintained that the beer which means so much to the consumers because of its distinctive taste and quality is also referred to as the Pride of the West.

Trophy Lager means so much to the consumers because of its distinctive taste and quality. It is regarded as the pride of the west, as such, to most consumers of the beer, it is seen as first among equals and remains the leading economy brand in the South West,” he said.

Other times, and unlike the case of Goldberg and Trophy lager, it is the consumers that create a story around a brand of their choice, whether unconsciously or by design, sometimes with help from the beer handlers.

Take the case of Hero Lager beer and the story surrounding its success. Hero Lager, another of SABMiller’s brands is brewed in Onitsha in a newly built brewery completed in 2012. Initially, it was a regional brand sold in the South Eastern states but has had so much success, it now sells across the country. The story begins with the label on the beer which looks like the Biafran rising sun. Coincidentally, the brand was launched about the time the former Biafrian leader who is revered in the East, Ikemba Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu passed away. One of the folk tale surrounding Hero is that the then Governor of Anambra State, Governor Peter Obi built the brewery in memory of the late Ojukwu, none of which is true.

What has happened is that the brand has taken on a life of its own, whether by design or accidental. Consumers of the brand in the East have rallied around the brand and claimed it as their own. Nowhere do you go in the East or anyplace where there are large concentrations of Igbos (drinking joints, restaurants, night clubs, ceremonies, among others) and you ask for “Oh Papa”, the name given to the brand in memory of late Ojukwu, that the bartender or person serving the drink won’t know what you are talking about.

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