Beer Wars – Nigeria’s Beer Industry

How 3 Global Giants keep fighting for Consumers mind and pocket   

  Olatunji Adegbite          

24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? – Steven Alexander Wright. Definitely does not sound like a coincidence!

Beer is the best remedy after a long day at work, countless hours spent in Lagos traffic and the scourging African heat!. It is also a great way to socialize and break down barriers. Over 100 years ago, two migrants to America, met over beer, socialized, broke barriers, bonded and together they built the largest beer brewing company in the world; ABInBev.

Health and Beer

Apart from aiding in socializing, bonding and relaxation, researchers have found the beer to:

  • -reduce the risk of developing kidney stones
  • -reduce cholesterol levels
  • -prevent blood clots
  • -builds strong bones, and
  • -aid in digestion[1].

When drunk in moderation, beer has been attributed to some health and social benefits.

The difference is in the yeast, the yeast is in the difference

To be a true beer hero, one who has rescued the beer trapped in bottles and cans, you need to understand that there are different types of Beer.

There are 10 main types of beers on the market today; namely

  1. Ale
  2. Pilsner
  3. Porter
  4. Bock
  5. Weissbier
  6. Lambic
  7. Kolsch
  8. Malt Liqour
  9. Lager
  10. Stout[2]

The difference is in the yeast; well not just the yeast but also the other types of ingredients (malt vs barley vs grains), as well as the fermentation process and temperature. Lager and Stout are the two main types of beer consumed in Nigeria today.

Lager is light beer in terms of its colour and taste. Sometimes it is referred to as a Blond because of its yellow colour as well as mellow, smooth taste. Lager’s main differentiating factors include being fermented at a cooler temperature, with grains and bottom-fermenting yeast being its main ingredients[3]. These give the beer its crisp, clean, subtle and balanced taste as well as aroma[4].

Stout, on the other hand, has a stronger aroma, taste and colour. Stout is usually opaque deep brown or black in colour and has a slightly bitter taste. Stout’s differentiating factors include the roasting of malt and fermentation at a hotter temperature[5]. These give stout its dark colour, strong aroma and slightly bitter taste[6].

Interestingly, just these two types of beer; Lager and Stout, have created an 800 billion Naira beer industry in Nigeria![7].

Nigeria, not for the sober at heart

Across the globe, Sub Sahara Africa is the fastest-growing beer region with an estimated annual growth rate of 5% between 2015 and 2020[8]. In comparison to Asia, the Middle East & North Africa and Western Europe which are 3%, 2.8% and less than 1% respectively[9].

And Nigeria, Africa’s largest population, is the largest beer consumption country in Africa with an annual average per capita consumption of 12.3 liters[10].

[11]

Due to the high consumption levels, Nigeria seems like a no brainer for brewers. Also unlike other countries, Nigeria currently does not have strict policies and regulations in regards to production, marketing and consumption of alcohol. Yes, Nigeria has the legal drinking age, yes Nigeria has regulations for TV advertisement but Nigeria does not have regulations on the quantity purchased and the locations purchases can be made[12]. Nigeria does not have regulations in terms of alcohol sponsorships, promotions and health warnings[13].

Nigeria is also a no brainer for brewers to pitch their tents given the population size, youthfulness and growing income. We have heard this countless times; Nigeria has the largest population in Africa (160 million people) with a substantial amount of the population consisting of youths (two-thirds are under the age of 30). Nigeria also has a growing middle class who with the advent of technology and globalization are now mimicking trends and patterns similar to Western countries[14].

Go to any bar after working hours and you will be able to indulge in their happy hour deals and offers (happy hour is the few hours after the close of business)[15]. Alcohol, which previously was reserved for special occasions, and consumed by men is now being consumed during various occasions and by both genders.

The population growth, youthfulness and changing consumer behaviour can be said to be beneficial for the entire alcohol industry but where beer wins is its ability to tap into the large segment with lower disposable income.

Although Nigeria has a growing middle class, 55% of the population is still in the lower social class. Now beer is the cheapest form of alcohol and also the lightest in terms of alcohol content. You can drink 3 bottles of beer and not cause damage to your finances nor your liver, in comparison to drinking 3 glasses of wine or whiskey.

 

Segmentation is key!

There are 2 main beer segments in Nigeria; Premium segment which consists of what we call premium brands and the Value segment which consists of value brands. These segments are defined by the positioning and price attributed to each brand by the brewers. Beers within the premium segment range in price from 320 to 400 Naira for a 60 cl bottle. And those from the value segment range in price from 200 to 299 Naira for a 60cl bottle.

Within the Premium Brands segment, there are only 3 brands; Heineken, Guinness and Budweiser.

And within the Value Brands segment there are 21 brands; Star, Star Radlar, Star Lite, Star Triple X, Gudler, Legend Stout, Dubic, Trophy, Castle Lite, Harp, “33” Export, Stella, Life, Hero, Goldberg, More, Williams Dark Ale, Turbo King Stout, Tiger, Royal Kingdom and Stazenbrau.

These 24 beers are brewed by 3 main breweries; Nigerian Breweries Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc and ABInBev.

National Pride

Nigerian Breweries is the oldest and largest brewing company in Nigeria, a subsidiary of Heineken International that was incorporated in 1946[16]. They currently own 11 breweries across the nation and produce over 15 million hectoliters of beer annually[17].

1

They brew and market 15 brands; 1 Premium Brand (Heineken) and 14 Value Brands (Star, Gulder, Legend Stout, Goldberg, Life, Star Lite, 33 Export, Williams Dark Ale, Turbo King Stout, More Lager, Star Radler, Star TripleX, Stella and Tiger). The first beer brewed and marketed was Star in 1949.

Follow the money…

As of Q1 2018, Nigerian Breweries made revenues of 82.9 Billion Naira and 15.2 Billion Naira profit before tax[18].

Raw Materials, Distribution & Policies

How is Nigerian Breweries able to build such an empire? Through their mainly locally sourced raw materials, distribution channels and favourable policies!

Nigerian Breweries ever so wisely ensures that 47% of their raw materials and 100% of their packaging materials are sourced locally thereby reducing their production costs[19].

Between 2010 and 2012, they acquired two more breweries (giving them their current 11 breweries), these breweries, Sona Brewery and Life Brewery helped skyrocket the growth of Nigerian Breweries[20]. With these breweries, they were able to increase their distribution channels and coverage as well as reduce distribution costs[21]

They truly are Nigerian’s national pride – they were the first brewers in the nation and produced beers that are synonymous with Nigeria’s nationhood. This is definitely a competitive advantage for them. As one of the pioneers of this industry, they have been awarded numerous first comer privileges whereby most of the legislation in the industry was designed by them, for them. They have access to more national resources and can manipulate the terrain a bit better than competitors

Made of Black

Guinness Nigeria is the second-largest brewing company in Nigeria, incorporated in 1962. It is a subsidiary of Diageo, the world’s largest producer of spirits. Guinness Nigeria produces and markets some very popular spirit brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, McDowell’s VSOP, Baileys and Gordon’s Dry Gin. In addition to this, they brew some of the finest beers; Guinness stout, Harp, Satzenbrau, Dubic, and Royal Kingdom; with Guinness stout being their first beer on the market. They are also known for their flavoured alcoholic beverage, Orijin. Contrary to popular knowledge, Orijin is not a beer brand but rather a ready to drink an alcoholic beverage. Guinness Nigeria has 4 breweries across the nation with an annual output of 5.5 million hectoliters[22].

Follow the money…

As of Q1 2018, Guinness Nigeria made revenues of 70.6 Billion Naira and 3.54 Billion Naira profit before tax[23].

Large Portfolio

How has Guinness Nigeria survived this long? Diversity! Their alcohol and beverage portfolio!

Guinness Nigeria’s competitive edge is based on its diverse beverage portfolio. They brew beers, they have a wide array of award-winning spirits, they have flavoured alcoholic beverages as well as an array of non-alcoholic beverages.

Yes, Nigerian Breweries also dabs into the non-alcoholic beverages and flavoured alcoholic beverage segments but the quantity of non-beer brands in both companies’ portfolios is the differentiator.

Guinness Nigeria has 21 brands in its whole beverage portfolio with 4 being beer, 4 non-alcoholic drinks, 3 ready to drink and 9 spirit brands. While Nigerian Breweries has 25 brands with 13 being beer, 5 non-alcoholic drinks, 5 ready to drink, 1 cider and 1 energy drink brand.

In short, Guinness Nigeria is and will still be making revenue even if the beer portfolio is dying due to other beverages they have on the market – especially their award-winning spirits.

Soaring into our Homeland

ABInBev is the world’s largest brewing company and they have spread their wings and started to disrupt the Nigerian beer market. They entered the Nigerian market in 2016 by merging with SABMiller, a British brewing company that started operation in Nigeria in 2011 by acquiring International Breweries. SABMiller in its 5 years in Nigeria, acquired an additional 2 breweries, Intafact Beverages and Pabod Breweries giving them a total annual

capacity of 5.7 million hectoliters – slightly above that of Guinness Nigeria[24]. They are currently constructing a 250 million Dollar brewery in Ogun state which will increase their annual output to over 15 million hectoliters – the biggest capacity in Nigeria[25].

ABInBev manufactures and distributes one premium brand; Budweiser and 3 value brands Trophy, Castle Lite and Hero.

Follow the money…

Currently, the 3 ABInBev breweries are operating as 3 separate entities, although ABInBev has plans to consolidate these companies into one; ABInBev. For now, only International Breweries (brewers of the Trophy beer) is a public company and is required to release their financial report. Based on the financial report from International Breweries, as of Q1 2018, International Breweries made revenues of 25.97 billion Naira and 2.56 billion Naira profit before tax[26] .

Regional, Technical, Financial & Workforce Strength

Based on figures from one brewery, how is ABInBev soaring? International brands, prestige and expertise!

The 3 breweries they own are in Osun, Anambra and Rivers state, therefore they have adopted a strategy whereby they create regional brands and gradually disperse these regional favourites all over the country. There is nothing like travelling to a different state and finding your local beer there. Beer has a way of reminding you of home; giving you a sense of identity as well as the community.

Being the #1 brewing company in the world, ABInBev comes armed with a lot of technical knowledge and financial strength which will give them a better chance to defeat Nigerian Breweries and Guinness Nigeria than SABMiller had.

ABInBev has already announced plans to leverage on the strength of their international well-known brands like Budweiser, Stella Artois, Becks and Corona. These brands will be introduced into the Nigerian market gradually; Budweiser has already been introduced as the ‘King of Beers’ in glam style.

Another one of the biggest strengths of ABInBev is their youthful culture; a large percentage of their workforce is under the age of 40. They have numerous recent graduate programs that attract talent and learnings from all over the world. This plays directly into Nigeria’s current and future beer market in Nigeria – the youths.

Nigerian Breweries, Guinness Nigeria and ABInBev have created the 800 billion Naira Beer Industry in Nigeria today and of course, there has been and still are battles they fight against each other[27].

Beer Shed

There are 6 main battles these three oligopolies are entangled in. Now remember there are only two main types of beer consumed in Nigeria, so these battles aren’t necessarily a battle of taste but rather a battle based on distribution, marketing activities, pricing and promotions.

ABInBev’s Trophy vs Nigerian Breweries’ Goldberg

-Trophy Lager Beer was launched in 1978 by International Breweries; in 2011 it was taken over by SABMiller (now ABInBev). While Goldberg Lager Beer was acquired by Nigerian Breweries and re-launched in 2012

-Trophy and Goldberg are popular and battling for market share mainly in the South Western part of Nigeria[28] (Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti states)

-Both brands can be found in other South Western states but Goldberg has better distribution in the South West and South East. Mainly because of their production capacity as well as the fact that over the past 72 years Nigerian Breweries has been able to build their distribution network

-Both brands are using folklore and tradition to grow their brands. Trophy has been synonymous with the tagline ‘Honorable’ – a brand fit for an Honorable. The face behind this Honorable is Femi Adebayo who is an actor, director, producer and Special Adviser to the Governor of Kwara State on Arts, Culture and Tourism[29]. While Goldberg has been synonymous with the tagline ‘Your Excellency’ – a brand that is suitable for his Excellency. The face behind this Excellency is Odunlade Adekola who is an actor, director and producer

Currently, Trophy is not known as a sponsor of any cultural events. While Goldberg sponsors cultural events in the area such as Ojude Oba in Ogun State, Udiroko in Ekiti State and Osun Osogbo in Osun State[30]

-Trophy comes in 60cl & 45cl bottles and, 33cl & 50cl cans. The 60cl bottle costs 225 Naira [31]

-Goldberg comes in 60cl bottle and 50cl cans. The 60cl bottle costs 230 Naira [32]

-Don’t ask us who is winning this battle! Word on the street is that Goldberg has reduced/no sugar content[33] and is a culture-centric brand while Trophy isn’t. But then again, Nigerians are price sensitive and they appreciate a variety of SKUs because at least one size will fit their budget.

ABInBev’s Hero vs Nigerian Breweries’ Life

-Hero Lager Beer was launched in 2012 by SABMiller (now ABInBev). While Life Lager Beer was acquired by Nigerian Breweries and re-launched in 2012

-Hero and Life are popular and battling for market share in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria

-Life’s motto is Progress with its brand ambassador being Flavour and Phyno, both influential artists from the South East. Life currently runs a Hi-Life Fest (music festival competition), Progress Booster Show (aimed at assisting innovative businesspeople in the South East) and Umu Oganiru Carnival

-Hero beer, on the other hand, has been knighted with a ‘red crown cork’ to mimic the red cap worn by Igbo chiefs. Hero sponsored the COPA Lagos event in 2016[34] and with that, they have been able to take their brand out of the South East and bring it into the South West

-Hero did a better job of positioning itself as the beer for Easterners. The brand’s logo looks like the Biafran rising sun logo and the beer was released on the day of the funeral of the late Biafran warlord, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu[35]. Nothing tops the patriotic fervour, relevance and sensitivity this brand plays in the lives of the Easterners. In the East, the beer is referred to as “Ooh Mpa” [36]

-Hero 60 cl bottle is currently selling for 230 Naira while Life 60 cl bottle is currently selling for 240 Naira

-Not much space is left in our hearts for Life Lager Beer. The winner is clearly obvious! But this might be because we are patriotic and hold on to the struggles of our past heroes but then there are Nigerians who are driven more by the future and having opportunities to succeed – which Life beer provides through their marketing activities.

ABInBev’s Budweiser vs Nigerian Breweries’ Heineken

-The battle between these two Lager brands has just begun!

-In 1998 Nigerian Breweries launched the first premium lager brand in Nigeria, Heineken. And Nigeria has been the biggest market in Africa for the Heineken brand[37]. It is estimated that over 20 million hectoliters of Heineken are sold annually in Nigeria[38]

-In 2018, just two months ago, ABInBev disrupted Heineken’s monopoly and launched one of the largest selling beers in the US, Budweiser

-ABInBev announced in 2017 that it will be bringing its premium brand into Nigeria, so Nigerian Breweries definitely had time to prepare.

-Heineken had been working hard; trying to retain their loyal customers (me) by promoting, family and the Nigerian culture. They signed Jidenna as their brand ambassador (a Nigerian-American Hip Hop Artist) and have given their brand the name ‘Chairman’. They have also started a “Go Places” campaign highlighting all the places the brand will go with consumers and they are organizing music concerts and festivals like “Live Music Party” [39].

Budweiser, on the other hand, has tagged itself “The King of Beers” having roadshows, activations and finally an extraordinary launch event at Landmark Towers which they converted to the Bud Hotel. There has been so much excitement and anticipation over the arrival of the brand – which was greatly welcomed as it has been a while since Nigeria has had such a buzz from a new brand entering the market.

-Budweiser is the official sponsor of FIFA World Cup which means they own all and the only marketing rights in the beer industry. And this brand has used it to the fullest! They have started the Light Up the FIFA World Cup campaign where every Nigeria is promised a Budweiser if Super Eagles make it to the quarter-finals. Almost every viewing centre in Lagos is being sponsored by Budweiser, where the brand provides merchandises and of course beer.

-What Budweiser is doing well that other brands are not doing as well is their use of social media. Budweiser understands that the biggest drinkers of beer are youths so they actively engage them on social media. Follow @BudweiserNG and  @Heineken_NG on Twitter and notice the difference in timely, relevant, engaging and differentiated content.

-Budweiser 60 cl bottle is currently selling for 325 Naira while Heineken 60 cl bottle is currently selling for 320 Naira

ABInBev’s Castle Lite vs Nigerian Breweries’ Star Lite

-End of April 2018, ABInBev launched Castle Lite Lager beer officially into the market and invited acts like J.Cole, Davido and Wiz Kid to host a musical concert tagged ‘Castle Lite Unlock’. The concert was a free event and the only way to get in was to buy a bottle of Caste Lite and ‘unlock’ your seat

-Apart from the concert and their social media presence, the only other advertising the brand has is their billboard along the Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja[40]

-Long before the launch of Castle Lite, Star Lite was launched in Nigeria (in 2014 – 4 years ago). Now what analysts are hypothesizing is that Star Lite was not accepted by consumers because it was a line extension of their favourite brand, the first beer brand in Nigeria (Star) and consumers do not like line extensions of their favourite brand[41]

-ABInBev launched Castle Lite into the market first before launching their Castle Lager so as to gain market share in this sub-segment and analysts argue, to avoid the same mistake Star Lite made[42]

-Castle Lite 60 cl bottle is currently selling for 260 Naira and Star Lite 60cl bottle is currently selling for 265 Naira.

ABInBev’s Stella Artois vs Nigerian Breweries’ Stella

-In Q3 2017, ABInBev announced that it will be bringing some of its international best-selling beers into the Nigerian market; namely Budweiser, Stella Artois, Becks and Corona.

-By December 2017, Nigerian Breweries beat ABInBev to it by launching the Stella Lager Beer into the Nigerian market. This very opportunistic act of theirs will make it extremely difficult for ABInBev’s Stella Artois to differentiate itself in the market when it is launched.

-According to Nigerian Breweries, however, the brand (Stella Lager) had been crafted in 1897 and had been present in other markets around the world and to them, it seemed like a no better time to bring the brand into Nigeria[43]

-We await the launch of Stella Artois to see how both brands play in the market

-Stella 60cl bottle is currently selling for 290 Naira.

Guinness Nigeria’s Guinness Stout vs Nigerian Breweries’ Legend Stout

-Although the Stout category is dying a slow death because it is a heavy beer, has an acquired taste and many have advised it is not too healthy, it is still worth mentioning the battle between Guinness and Legend.

-Guinness the premium beer was launched in 1963 by Guinness Nigeria while Legend a value beer was launched by Nigerian Breweries in 1992.

-Guinness had years over Legend to build brand loyalty which they did.

-In 2012, Legend Stout won the Gold Quality Award in a blind taste testing while Guinness won the Silver Quality Award. This was very influential in growing the Legend Stout brand which was previously fighting a losing battle with Guinness.[44]

-Legend Stout has also been able to win substantial market share in the East. The Legend logo has a flaming torch which is nicknamed Oku na-ere ere and is associated with a religious ministry Pastor in the East[45]. This has helped build some folklore around the brand and increase its share in the East.

-Guinness has tried to remain relevant by launching various campaigns such as ‘Made of More’, ‘Drink Responsibly’, ‘drink IQ’, ‘Table of Men’, ‘Made of Black’ campaigns.[46]

-As a company, Guinness Nigeria has also diversified their energy into their spirits category by building plants in the East so as to have locally made internationally known spirits more widely available at an affordable price.[47]

-The future for the Stout category is as rosy as the Lager which could explain Nigerian Breweries’ lack of intense investment in the Legend Stout brand.

-Guinness Nigeria is also showing a reduction in their investments in their stout brand by focusing a lot on their award-winning spirits, non-alcoholic beverages and Lager beers.

-Guinness 60cl bottle sells for 400 Naira while Legend 60 cl bottle sells for 299 Naira.

Sponsorships & Marketing Promotions

According to data collected from Mediafacts, based on 2016 advertising spend figures for the Beer Category, Nigerian Breweries spent over 2 billion Naira on their above-the-line advertising activities (TV, billboards, radio and magazines/newspapers); with the most being spent on billboards.

Guinness Nigeria spent over 700 million Naira; with the most also being spent on billboards. And ABInBev spent the least about 300 million Naira with most being on billboards. This is understandable as ABInBev has the least number of brands and is fairly new into the market.

Important to also note that beer brands are not allowed to advertise their products on TV; the only time a beer brand is on TV is if they are sponsoring a program. Of the 3 billion Naira that is spent on above the line advertising in the Beer category only 10% is spent on TV in comparison to 80% spent on billboards.

Nigerian Breweries sponsorships and promotions

-Sports: Nigerian Professional Football League. Five European Leagues namely Arsenal, Manchester City, Juventus, Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germaine.

-Music concerts: #StarMusicTheFusion, Hi-Life Fest, Live Music Party, The Trek Music Carnival

-Fashion: Lagos Fashion and Design Week,

-Entrepreneurship: Progress Booster Show

-Cultural events & Festivals: Ojude Oba in Ogun State, Udiroko in Ekiti State and Osun Osogbo in Osun State, Igue Festival in Benin, Umu Oganiru Carnival

-Promotions: The Gulder Ultimate Promotion

Guinness Nigeria sponsorships and promotions

-Cultural events & Festivals: Carnival Calabar

-Health: Guinness Eye Hospital, Drink Responsibly

-Sports: Guinness Ogbe Hard Court International Tennis Championship, Guinness Benin Golf Tournament, Sunshine Stars of Akure, Dolphins of Port Harcourt, Lobi Stars of Markudi, Heartland of Owerri and Enugu Ranger.

ABInBev sponsorships and promotions

-Sports: FIFA Worldcup, FC Barcelona, Copa Lagos

The Game of Beer Pong

ABInBev coming into the Nigerian beer market and doing so with substantial investment is exactly what consumers need and deserve. In the past, neither Nigerian Breweries nor Guinness had strong competition and as such, they were not pushed to innovate, challenge themselves and provide consumers with, the best premium quality Lagers.

With the way ABInBev is going they are going to (if they haven’t already) kick Guinness Nigeria off the 2nd place podium and take over as the second biggest breweries in Nigeria based on revenues.

Naspire’s verdict – In the next five years, the rain of Nigerian Breweries will come to an end if they don’t buckle up, innovate and excite consumers through channels that are relevant to consumer’s lives.

So we will end with a toast and say: May the best brewer win!

References

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[39] Brandish (2013). Selling Beer with Folklore. Retrieved on June 13th 2018 from http://www.brandish.com.ng/selling-beer-with-folklore/

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[42] Brandish (2013). Selling Beer with Folklore. Retrieved on June 13th 2018 from http://www.brandish.com.ng/selling-beer-with-folklore/

[43] Vanguard (2017). International premium Stella Lager Beer launches in Nigerian market. Retrieved on June 25th 2018 from https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/12/international-premium-stella-lager-beer-launches-nigerian-market/

[44] Brandish (2013). Selling Beer with Folklore. Retrieved on June 13th 2018 from http://www.brandish.com.ng/selling-beer-with-folklore/

[45] Brandish (2013). Selling Beer with Folklore. Retrieved on June 13th 2018 from http://www.brandish.com.ng/selling-beer-with-folklore/

[46] Brandish (2013). Selling Beer with Folklore. Retrieved on June 13th 2018 from http://www.brandish.com.ng/selling-beer-with-folklore/

[47] Brandish (2013). Selling Beer with Folklore. Retrieved on June 13th 2018 from http://www.brandish.com.ng/selling-beer-with-folklore

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