In 2016, Rite Foods set off a cola-war that shook the operations of market leaders. The introduction of Bigi Colaruffled the feathers ofCoca-cola and Pepsi, leading to the reduction of their shares in the Nigerian market. Three years later, Rite Foods has taken the fight to La Casera, and the clash has sparked off a chapman-war.
Rite Foods is a Fast Moving Consumer Goods company and subsidiary of Ess-Ay Holdings. The company was established in 2007, offering sausage rolls, but Bigi didn’t become a household name until the company made inroads into the carbonated drinks market in 2016.
This move proved to be vital for the company, accelerating its growth in the FMCGs market. Within three years, Bigi became such a prominent player that Coca-cola and Pepsi had to rebrand their products and restructure their prices to respond to itspresence in the cola market.
Now, Rite Foods has taken its strategic imitation tactics up a notch by producing Bigi Chapman. The company has taken an existing flavour and customized it tosuit its brand. In a way, Bigi is now a one–stop brand for all carbonated drink flavours, having produced Bigi Cola, Bigi Apple, Bigi Tropical, Bigi Orange, and Bigi Bitter Lemon.
Smoov has stepped into the ring to battle Bigi Chapman which is the latest flavour to join the family of Bigi drink brands. While the chapman-war hasn’t grabbed attention like the cola-war did, Smoov has silently responded to Bigi’s provoked market entry.
Smoov is a product of La Casera, another carbonated drink packaged in PET bottle. It was the first brand to package chapman into a PET bottle, as it was usually served as a mocktailat parties before Smoov’s innovation.
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Unlike Pepsi and Coca-cola, Smoov isn’t utilising the media to protect its territory and maintain its market share in the chapman segment. It is responding to Bigi by giving its customers more value than it offeredin the four years since its inception.
Smoov seems to be battle ready for Bigi Chapman, as it immediately increased its quantity by 20% to keep its customer base from dumping its product for Bigi Chapman. Both companies offer their products for N100.
Rite Foods had captured sizeable market share in the drink market because Bigi doesn’t just offer lower prices. The brand also offers quantity for value — that was its market strategy against Coca-cola and Pepsi. Therefore, Smoov seems to have realised that to win the chapman-war, it needs to battle Bigi on all fronts.
Retailer’s reaction to Bigi Chapman and Smoov
This response by Smoov has proved pivotal since Bigi Chapman launched into the market, as the demand for Smoov remains strong, according to Mrs Perpetual of Malbim Stores in Ogba, Lagos. In an interview with Perpetual, Nairametrics was informed that Bigi Chapman hasn’t negatively affected the sales of Smoov. She stated that it’s too early to compare Bigi Chapman to Smoov, as it’s barely two months that the former entered the market.
However, with the growth of other Bigisoftdrinks, Rite Foods has shown its marketing prowess and distribution reach to pull a disruption like it did with its Bigi Cola. But in the meantime, Smoov seems to have solidified its position with the increase in quantity.
Both Bigi and La Casera had been at each other’s throats in the past. In its bid to expand its flavour, Bigi wandered into the turf of La Casera.
Rite Foods produced Bigi Apple after launching Bigi Cola. The move set off a response from La Casera as itrebrandedits product and reducedits product price just like Pepsi and Coca-cola were compelled to do in 2016.
Before the direct competition between La Casera and Bigi Apple, the former had been having brand issues among the market base, after rumours spread that the drink contained bleaching chemical which could be used by mechanics, or as atoilet cleaning agent. Also, the company’s workers embarked on a strike that led to the shutdown of its factory in Apapa, Lagos. As a result of these, La Casera’s demand and supply dropped.
These challenges contributed to the growth of Bigi Apple which entered the market the same period that La Casera was struggling with brand identity between 2015 and 2017,causing the demand for Bigi Apple to grow within the market.
In response, La Casera rebranded its package outlook and increased its product quantity by 20%, although the PET bottle became slimmer compared to Bigi Apple.
The benefit of Bigi’s provocation
As Bigi continues to add more flavours, and provoke size and pricewars in its segment of choice, the customers are the beneficiaries. It’s a blessing in disguise for customers when brands compete by size and market price.
In just three years, Bigi has built a reputation that threatens its competitors, forcing them to give more value (for less) than initially offered. And while the company needs to produce original flavours in the coming years, it can keep crashing market price and size with its strategic imitation. After all, the end, they say, justifies the means.