Strengthening Relationship with Consumers

Raheem Akingbolu writes on the emerging competition in the spirit market and how brand positioning and effective customer reward system can sustain brand loyalty

In recent times, more brand promoters are waking up to the need to sincerely factor in consumer’s interest into their consumer behaviour mechanism for their products to gain top-of-mind awareness (TOMA). There is no gainsaying the fact that the first brand that comes to mind when consumers think of a certain niche, product or industry has achieved top of mind awareness. However, not all consumers will think of the same brand, but the results offer a clear indication of which companies are most popular within an industry. 

In Nigeria’s spirit and gin market, it has almost become a herculean task for brands to easily get top-of-mind awareness because of market saturation. Though a big market, there are scores of brands -big and small, competing for attention, hence the need for brand owners to think out of the box.

It’s worth noting that sometimes the first brand people think of is one they dislike or one that was recently embroiled in a scandal. So TOMA can have negative associations. However, being ‘top of mind’ is usually a big plus for brands.

Globally, rebranding, customer reward, price and promotions have been identified as marketing strategies to reinforce existing relationships between organisations and customers who are global citizens resident in a locality. Advertising also falls into this category but it can only work when the brand has gotten a genuine story to tell.

In all, the primary reason is to ensure brand loyalty and generate profit.
Employment of these strategies by organisations is with understanding that consumer loyalty is pre-requisite for success in a highly competitive environment like the Nigerian market. But more important to customer reward and promotions is the drive of value and trust.

As market records new entrants, existing brands change gear to either crash the price or flag off promotion. However, whichever way the pendulum swings, consumers are always at advantage because they will not only get value for their hard-earned money, they will also get incentives.

Nigeria’s Wine Spirit Market

With many business owners within and outside the African continent looking in the direction of the Nigerian market, the terrain appears to have become more competitive. Consumers too seem to have become more sophisticated and selective. As a result of this, each of the players in the spirit market is engaging the market through different positioning approaches to gain a competitive edge. Of course, some have come out with feedback of good results while some have failed.

Business owners are fond of publicity stunts and marketing strategies to push their brands in the marketing place. In Nigeria, two sectors – the fast-moving consumer goods and food and drinks, appear to be the most popular in this regard.

Meanwhile, a recent global forecast of wines and spirits market projected that the value may reach $1,122,578 million, and is expected to grow at 4.8 per cent by 2022. Luxury Wines and Spirits Market was valued at $971.2 Billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $1,213.8 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 5.25 per cent from 2021 to 2028. Nigeria’s spirit market is worth over $2 billion and also to grow at six per cent on average per year, according to a published report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in their Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

Crave for Market Leadership

The peculiar challenge facing businesses in Nigeria notwithstanding, the attractiveness of the market has continued to spur the players in the spirit market to deepen their market penetration.

For instance, in a bid to foster good relationship with her distributors, Intercontinental Distillers Limited (IDL), has rewarded her distributors with cash and various gifts during their Annual Distributors Award held in Ogun State, recently. The event also witnessed the relaunch of two brands, Eagle Aromatic Schnapps and Commodore Aromatic Schnapps.

Head of Sales, Hope Gbagi, said 2021 was filled with many challenges but notwithstanding many of the distributors improved with their performances, stressing that the company will continue to nurture and develop their relationship.

He added that the IDL ceremony and its content have made the company to continue to be the talking point amongst peers in the Wine and Spirit industry. Managing Director of IDL, Patrick Anegbe said IDL will not shy away from the economic challenges the distributors are facing in order to build a lasting partnership.

During the award presentation, Managing Director of Ogbohu Enterprises, Ota, Mrs Dorothy Anegbe, emerged as the overall winner with Managing Director, Chubbybros Enterprises Limited, Mushin, Emmanuel Ogbata as runner up. Both distributors were rewarded with cash and a brand-new delivery truck each

“Today marks a new beginning in the Wines and Spirits Business in Nigeria and indeed Africa, with the reintroduction of two ionic Schnapps brands (Eagle and Commodore Aromatic Schnapps) both redefining the rules of engagements within the Category and the markets respectively.

“The Markets have been littered with imitations and “me toos” of both Eagle and Commodore Aromatic Schnapps for too long a time.  Much as counterfeiters, fakers and adulterators have tried so hard to take their place in the markets, we know that no one can match our Schnapps brands, because for decades, the finest ingredients known to man, makes them what they are and nothing can change that,” Head of Marketing at IDL, Mobolaji Alalade, stated.

According to him, when the Eagle felt uncomfortable with the status-quo, it rejuvenated itself and moved some notches up in the skies.  “Eagle Aromatic Schnapps, the true symbol of our tradition, has redefined originality! By this unveiling today, it is now undoubtedly the Authentic prayer drink,” he added.

The new Eagle Schnapps, now comes in a new, trendy, glamorous, category defining artfully shaped new bottle, the cap is indeed the majestic crown of elegance, that is first in its class, the bottle label personifies the new Eagle spirit and the new majestic pack consolidates its authenticity with a bolder and Eagle Headed crest emblem. The entire body partered with authentic Nigerian motifs symbolized with our traditional artistry such as African drums, shields, crowns and marks encapsulated with audacious Eagle inscriptions engraved on both sides of the gift pack.  

It is also important to state that the new Commodore Aromatic Schnapps is a beauty to behold. The bottle, sleek with a trendy neck, which makes it easy to grab and hold. The new pack is authentic beauty, an ensemble of vibrant colours, an embodiment of the true diversity of our culture and tradition, indeed Commodore Aromatic Schnapps is the spirit of answered prayers.

While describing this as a landmark achievement, Alalade admitted that “This is a great day! It is also a new dawn for business, because as our partners, you will make more sales, more money and more profit with these relaunched brands. Therefore, let us all go and make these brands a huge success in the markets across Nigeria and beyond,”

Trade Partners Reward, Re-launch

Beyond advertising and marketing, all the players have consistently invested in reward schemes to strengthen relationships with distributors and consumers. In spite of the challenges facing the industry, IDL, according to its Managing Director, Patric Anegbe, has worked hard to ensure that the company’s products are always available and Customers’ complaints promptly resolved at all times.

Again, to sustain loyalty of its patrons, the company recently held her annual Distributors awards and the relaunch of its Eagle Aromatic Schnapps and Commodore Aromatic Schnapps. According to Anegbe, the 2022 edition was a special event because it was coming up after two years of a similar event as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “Today has been set aside by IDL Management to appreciate and reward our esteemed distributors for doing business with us in the last financial year, 2021. We have chosen the theme “Partnership that works” for this year’s Award ceremony. This is because our business relationship with you over the years has grown beyond that of just distributors and suppliers. We now see you and relate with you as our partners and your business as an extension of our own business. 

“Some of you have been doing business with us now for over 30 years. Some 25 years, 20 years, 15 years and 10 years and we are still doing business together till today. We value and appreciate your patronage and loyalty to our company.  I want to assure you that IDL will do everything possible to maintain this good business relationship we have built together over the years,” he stated.

The Managing Director pointed out that the company valued hard work and recognized the fact that the growth in the distributors’ business had also reflected in growth in the company’s business, hence, what he termed the “WIN-WIN” reward policy as contained in IDL’s customer’s incentive schemes -the more you buy, the more you benefit.

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