Innovate or die! A Case of AJEAST Big Cola Vs the big players-Coca Cola & Pepsi in Nigeria


This is a story of a David and not-so Goliaths in the carbonated soft drinks market in Nigeria.

It all started in 2015 when AJEAST Nigeria Limited officially launched its brand of CSD into the market- Big Cola, Big Orange, Big Lemon. These come in a 65cl PET bottle and were initially planned to retail at N90 naira. It now sells at N100 naira. Their tagline is "You Think Big, You dream big". This brand successfully launched its products in Latin America.





In November 2015 an article titled Some Big Lessons for Big Cola was highly circulated asking if Big Cola would be able to compete where Coca Cola and Pepsi have a large chunk of the market share in this category? Seeing as many new products come into the Nigerian market, why the fuss?
Only time would tell.

Prior to their entry, CSD in PET was characterized as such:

  • Pack size of 50cl.
  • Selling price of N100 naira.
  • Cola flavour contains Caffeine.


And it did eventually. 
By October 2015, Pepsi launched its 'Long Throat Bottle' across its Pepsi, Mirinda and Seven Up. The new 60cl PET bottle offers 20% extra volume on the previous 50cl bottle at the same N100 naira. 


I was hoping Coca Cola would not act indifferent as i waited to see how they planned to wish Big Cola away. Alas, the wait is over as in January 2016, Coca Cola launched its 60cl PET bottle into the Nigerian market. It has a recommended retail price of N100 naira and is a “20% FREE LIMITED TIME OFFER” on Coca Cola ONLY.




LESSONS

  • Never underestimate a new entrant to the market.
  • 'Active Inertia' a state of inaction, can play a major role in good companies going bad.
  • A new entrant into an established category/playing field should be seen as opportunity for new perspective for the status quo.
For Big Cola, the market is big enough for all Colas. I took a taste myself only last week and its taste compares very close to Pepsi. Also, an added bonus is it contains 'No Caffeine' and this to me can be an additional USP when marketing to children.  A study in the Journal of Pediatrics in December 2010 found "the more caffeine children consumed, the less they slept". The biggest blunder you can make when trying to settle kids down is to give them any Cola drink that contains caffeine.

Even for nursing mothers, it is advised that caffeine should be taken in very small amounts. Unlucky for me, after i had my baby, for some strange reason, i was craving Coca Cola and i indulged. This was until i realised it might be the reason my sleep and that of my baby were getting disturbed. For the consumer who likes a watered down cola drink, you should give Big Cola a try.

The harsh economic conditions leave many of us craving for more value. As the consumer tighten their purse strings, they are more open to trying out new products. The fastest way for any business to die is to remain rigid in its approach. 

I am rooting for the underdog and hope their innovation pays off.

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