After a slight decline in 2016 and 2017, 2018 marked a growth point in the soft drinks industry. What do you think have been the main reasons for this success?
To properly put things in the right perspective, permit me to relay some numbers. Trusted data has shown that between Dec 2017 and Dec 2018, the CSD market experienced a 19% growth in volume and a 14% growth in value. This amazing growth has continued into 2019, as comparing April 2018 v’s. 2019, we experienced a 31% growth in volume and 26% growth in value in the soft drinks industry.
The reasons are several and can be divided into two major factors, the external economic situation of the country and the CSD industry itself. On the economic factors, we have come from a very tough operating environment in 2016 and into 2017, where we experienced a devalued Naira, very scare foreign currency access, a high inflation rate with eroding purchasing power and a fierce battle for the share of the consumer’s wallet, combined with a recessed economy.
This was tough as sourcing of raw materials was a big challenge for all the players. By the quarter 4 of 2017, and early 2018 we began to experience better stability as well as more precise financial planning for businesses. We happily moved from a scenario budget planning using as much as three to five various scenarios depending on the exchange rate to a more precise planning system. On the industry factors, we began to see an extension of the landscape from the two traditional big players to more players who pushed the market with innovations and more flavour offerings. We began to see a change from the norm of the big killing the small, to the fast outwitting the slow.
We equally saw a shift in the packaging format, as consumers began to prefer on the go, trendy, and easy to handle pack formats. These two major factors drove and still driving the growth.
What is LaCasera projection of growth in 2019?
Our business plan is very close to our heart and we are deploying them as the year roll-by. One thing is very sure, we will continue to give our consumers and trade partners the desired attention and experience they deserve from a premium brand like LaCasera Apple, Smoov Chapman and other brands from the house of LaCasera. We are ready to excite the market and take what belongs to us. In 2019, we want to ensure that we drive commercial aggressiveness, by ensuring that we have LaCasera Apple and other brands from the house of LaCasera acceptable, available, affordable and accessible to all our consumers.
What is the Strategy behind the new look of La Casera?
The CSD market is the fastest evolving market within the beverage sector in Nigeria with so many brands now on display from different industry players. So to maintain freshness, top of mind awareness and new news, la casera continues to re-invent and renew itself through various methods such as refreshing it’s label. This helps us to stay relevant and ahead of the pack. Our consumers love new news and innovation and as a premium apple CSD in the market, we continue to lead in that direction.
At Malimbe, we love the products that are especially designed for Nigeria. How is smoov Chapman performing in the market? Is smoov Chapman sold in other countries as well?
The Smoov Chapman is another innovation from the LaCasera Company and truly Nigerian. We are by far the market leaders and give the real Chapman experience. Our focus currently is in satisfying the very much cherished Nigerian consumers. An export option may be considered in future.
How does bottle sizing affect your business? What are the options that you offer at the moment and why?
In the soft drink industry, there are various sizes, but mostly in three major pack sizes 35cl, 50cl and 60cl. At Lacasera we play in these three sizes, but the market and regional preferences determine our approach in each geo-political zone in the country. We continuously stay close to this packing strategy and give our consumers their preferences at very affordable prices.
In Nigeria, people have moved away from RGB’s to PET bottles. How well has LaCasera adopted this trend?
For the records, LaCasera was the pioneer manufacturer to put a carbonated soft drink in PET bottles. In other words, in LaCasera we had foresight, understanding the trend and shift in years to come. This continues to be our guiding principle in LaCasera, to stand out and be different.
How is LaCasera contributing to the country’s socio-economic growth?
The LaCasera Company plays a key role in the nation’s socio-economic growth in various ways. We employ over eight hundred people directly in our company, have over one thousand direct trade partners across the country, and more than ten times that number in our commercial value chain. We have our vendors and suppliers as well. With the bulk of our raw materials sourced locally, we have worked closely in developing our suppliers and building their competences.
What are LaCasera’s priorities for the next two years?
LaCasera is actually on a journey and a long one for that matter. The reassuring news for LaCasera Apple and our other brands is that in 2018, we saw a slow but steady monthly improvement in our market share. We have LaCasera Apple as our flagship brand. We have also seen our second brand, Smoov Chapman, equally becoming a household name. In the short to medium-term, we would continue to build our market share, by consistently maintaining and improving on our quality, driving our distribution pan-Nigeria, having an obsession for the frontline and our consumers, building and developing our human capital amongst other things.