Alcoholic drink producers compete for supremacy

Alcoholic drinks (spirits) producers are locked in a fierce battle for supremacy, amidst rising sales, which have defied the general decline in consumer spending, occasioned by  economic recession.
The intense battle of supremacy is reflected in the  products segmentation and repackaging by producers, aimed at extending market reach, in a bid to leverage on market growth.
Among other things, the growth experienced in the market is driven by availability of variety of alcoholic brands across different price range widening consumers’ choice. 
The market also benefited from increased preference for spirits in smaller pack and plastic sizes offered to consumers at low prices. Also there is expansion opportunity offered by increasing urbanisation and the rising number of female alcohol drinkers, especially in large cities, such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja. 
In addition to these is the country’s   favourable demographics, with a populous and vibrant youth and growing middle class that are also contributing growth factors to the sector.  
Nigeria’s emerging young consumers are adopting consumption patterns similar to Western countries and are increasingly developing preferences for premium imported brands. These favourable market scenarios encouraged various multi-natonals to strengthen their foothold in the market. It was found that the multi-nationals were also attracted to the country by the absence of stringent policies or measures regarding production and marketing of alcohol.  
Unlike what obtains in other countries, ‘Self-regulatory’ or ‘drink responsibly’ is a common theme, which brewers use in their campaign in Nigeria. These developments have resulted to the heightened competition and quest for market share among major local alcoholic drinks producers and imported brands.
The local producers are Diageo, parent company of Guinness Nigeria PLC, which produces Johnny Walker, Smirnoff among others;  Intercontinental Distillers Limited (IDL), makers of Eagle Schnapps, Chelsea Dry Gin, Squadron and others;  Grand Oak Limited, marketers of the Lord’s Dry Gin, Regal Dry Gin and others, Euro Global Foods and Distillers Limited, producers of  Sabrina, Brave heart, Amphora and others, all playing  in the mass market. 
The local brew, ‘Ogogoro’ is not left out in the battle for market share, as some locals still preferred the  local brew, especially in the reverine areas of the country. Also in competition are imported spirits and vodka brands including  Henessy, Remmy Martins, Chivas Regal, Martell, Jameson, Absolut, Jack Daniel.
Investigations show that drinking is widely considered a part of social life in Nigeria,which us why on-trade outlets (i.e. super stores) dominate alcoholic sales. Bulk of spiritsand wine are sold through off-trade outlets (road side), such as drinks’ specialists and independent grocery retailers, since such products are mostly consumed at home or during parties and other social gatherings.
It was also  found that growing visibility and lower prices at modern retail outlets have  helped off-trade grow faster than on-trade volume sales. The recession in 2016 and 2017, according to some distributors, affected the performance of on-trade channels and boosted off-trade sales, since prices were generally cheaper, through off-trade channels, even though consumers shifted purchases to smaller pack sizes, thereby increasing on-trade sales volume.It was also found that majority of the purchases made by consumers were through the smaller pack sizes, aided by population growth – particularly young people and women,  also helped the good performance of alcoholic drinks market. 
Some of the alcoholic beverages are now linked with affluence anstatus symbol. Increase in purchasing power and aspirational spending habits have generated the demand for premium drinks. Investigations showed that the marketing communication materials deployed  by some of  the alcohol beverage brands portray  these drinks as vitality enhancing beverage, thus attracting increasing number of youths.
A majority preferring Smirnoff, Chelsea Dry Gin, Squadron, Sabrina and Lord’s Dry Gin. Consumers also showed preference for foreign brands positioned as elitist brands, consumed  at clubs, big bars, hotels and other high class event centres, regardless of their prices. These brands according to order of polarity and demand are Henessy, Remmy Martins, Jack Daniel and Absolut. 
A consumer, Ellas Oludayo, said that he preferred Smirnoff, because of its alcoholic content, which he said was good for his body metabolism. “Its aroma, smoothness in the mouth and its hotness from the throat to the stomach endeared it to me”, he said. 
Kingsley Igbonekwu, a consumer, also said he preferred Smirnoff because of the name behind the brand.  “I see Smirnoff as a trusted brand. I also take Smirnoff when I feel like lifting my soul,” he said. 
Distributors were optimistic that the alcoholic drinks market was expected  to perform better  in 2018. A distributor and Managing Director, Heavyman Enterprises, Fidelis Anokwuru, said:  “Alcoholic drinks are expected to see much improved volume sales in 2018, as the various categories recovered from the relatively weak performance seen in 2016 and 2017 caused by the economic recession. 

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