In a surprise move last week, EABL, the region's largest brewer and parent company to Uganda's Uganda's Breweries Limited launched a product from their Tanzania market and newly acquainted Serengeti Breweries Limited; Premium Serengeti Lager.
The drink which has been positioned as wild, outdoorsy, nature-lovers' drink for winding down after those long Serengeti game drives has been positioned as a Premium Lager which will offer an alternative for the young, adventurous and, bold beer lover.
The most immediate market response was that it looked like Nile Special; packaged in a long neck bottle, with almost matching colours and tones all except for the gold wrap on the neck.Some journalists even hazarded the opinion that it mildly tasted like Nile Special. Nile Special is the premium proposition offered by SAB Miller Uganda affiliate Nile Breweries. Its crisp after taste has become very popular with the foreigner population in Uganda. without provocation and/ incentive they always settle on this beer. My guess is that EABL is looking to capture this market in order to grow market share. Which explains why it was in the news that EABL is making inroads to acquire Serengeti Breweries of Tanzania.
The trick though is going to be if this proposition does not deliver against the promise whoever proposed this to the bigger Diageo business made.The beer which was launched by MD UBL, Ivo Buratovich, and Patricia Ithau, MD, EABLI (International) in charge of marketing the group's brands in new markets and led locally by the Innovations team: Moses Kebba and Judith Ezaru of UBL at a small party of journalists, stock traders, marketing and sales teams will soon be in almost all outlets.
Gurus in the business however argue that the problem might not exactly be a product problem and therefore a competition issue as it is an internal problem. Guys I talk to regularly argue that sometimes they feel too much money is spent on advertising EABL products putting it in the faces of the consumers, while others will argue that if UBL sorted out its supply and distribution chain systems it would be fine. How else do you explain 67% of Uganda's spirits consumption being in the South Western region of the country and the company not even having 10% of that market share?!
But one thing is to be said about UBL, the aggressive growth pattern, supported by the massive muscle and, worldwide expertise of the Diageo business will take them far especially in developing markets where innovation is a necessity and not an advantage to be had. The emphasis on Execution Excellence, brand representation, commitment to consumer insights and, a militant Marketing Division will be what the Business has its eye on to deliver the market volumes. Past experience says, UBL will deliver; No Matter What.
Now we wait for the new beer to take root and see if it delivers the promise as a brand, as a beer in Uganda, but most especially as a refreshing beer experience.
Be sure to post your first experience of Serengeti Lager here.