Heineken’s winning way

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By The Nation

Innovation is often defined in terms of technological breakthroughs. There is a growing tendency to see it more as the creation and implementation of ideas that improve existing situations, writes WALE ALABI, using Heineken as a case study.

Joyce Wycoff, co-founder of the Innovation Network defines innovation as “people creating value by implementing new ideas”. Eileen Dundon sees it as “the profitable implementation of strategic creativity”. In line with these definitions, the concept can be seen as proposals for products that could add value to a brand that are new to it.

In the complex world of the 21st century where consumer preferences change rapidly, marketers are often on their toes to keep pace with this development through active participation and meaningful dialogue with consumers and brand loyalists. To some brands, it pays off; to others, it is often a Herculean task. One brand that appears to be getting it right is Heineken, the world’s leading international premium beer.

Noted for the quality of its packaging and content and for opening the world of its consumers, the brand seemed to understand the concept of brand innovation well when it unveiled a new global bottle in Nigeria. The brand- which constantly looks for opportunities to set new world standards to provide its consumers with utmost quality- did not disappoint. It held a spectacular World Premiere of the bottle at the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino in Lagos which attracted high net worth personalities. This was replicated in Ibadan.

For a brand to expand its interaction and maintain a balanced market penetration at a stable pace, it requires a robust and mutual relationship with consumers and stakeholders for success. This was the focus of Heineken when it launched the new global bottle in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. It gave stakeholders the premium experience in an airport ambience in conjunction with James Bond latest movie, SkyFall.

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Some of the distributors expressed optimism that the innovation behind the new global bottle would drive sales and strengthen the bond between the brand custodians and stakeholders.

Mary Odebiyi, a manager at Dacamca Nigeria Limited, one of the leading distributors, praised the new Heineken global new bottle for standing out. “The new global bottle is a very fantastic move that will help in creating more visibility for the brand, it is a well thought out process that is already bearing positive fruits. The fact that it was unveiled to consumers and distributors laid credence to its international status; it is truly the ‘Chairman’ of all beers”.

She added that the brewery industry in Nigeria is big, adding that the new bottle will expand the businesses of stakeholders because people “will appreciate the beer more than what it used to be as this will translate into high volume for us as distributors. Heineken is for a unique set of consumers and the new bottle will further distinguish it from other beers”.

Chairman, Tabcon Nigeria Limited Ibadan/Abeokuta, Akinyele Oladeji said the unveiling is a way of showing the quality and leadership place of Heineken in the Nigerian market. “As for us distributors, we are excited about the new idea because it will contribute to our sales volume in the shortest time. The new packaging cannot be ignored on the shelf because of its unique look and features.”

Managing Director Ofage Enterprise Nigeria Limited, Ado Ekiti, Adegboyega Omotoyinbo, disclosed that the Heineken brand has contributed to positioning of his outlet and business in terms of return on investment and with the new innovation it will further add to the growth of the business.  ”I can authoritatively confirm the type of revolution I created in the market with Heineken and other Nigerian Breweries products.”

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Managing Director, Lexican Investments Limited, Ile-Ife, Omoba Adeleke Gbadebo, praise the minds behind the rebranding of Heineken and further pledged his company’s loyalty to the brand and other Nigerian Breweries products.

Regional Business Manager West, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Joseph Bodunrin, disclosed that the Heineken brand is being sold in more than 170 countries of the world and Nigeria has contributed immensely to the brand which has informed uniformity, in the sense that the brand needs to have a uniform identity worldwide which is what informed the introduction of the global new bottle into the market.

He further explained that, the brand is an icon as the James Bond movie Skyfall it sponsored recently is. The partnership with James Bond has further driven home the uniqueness and the premiumness of the Heineken brand. He added that consumers generally have insights, which drive them to approve a brand like Heineken.

On the place of the brand and the activities in the region, Bodunrin said: “Heineken has done very well here in Ibadan even the poor know what quality is all about and they associate with Heineken a great deal, and the brand appreciates by engaging in sponsorships in term of carnival especially the Ibadan carnival which is mainly a beer event where consumer gather to enjoy the quality beer responsibly.”

Mr Nicolaas Vervelde, Managing Director/CEO, Nigerian Breweries Plc, unveiling the global bottle in Lagos, said the company has been reinventing its brands and driving innovation over the years. Heineken, he noted, is an outstanding brand in Nigeria, the fastest growing and most premium lager beer in the country, hence, the name “Chairman”.

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The packaging, he continued, is state of the art and a retinue of distributors will ensure that it gets to the hands of its consumers wherever they are.

Marketing Director Mr Walter Drenth affirmed that the new world class and innovative, proprietary bottle comes in 60cl and 33cl content. “It is a uniform Heineken bottle across the world and I am proud that Nigeria is one of the first countries to introduce this new design on a returnable bottle. This bottle is designed with true perfection to match the premium quality that Heineken always delivers”.

Taking the audience through the design features of the new bottle, Drenth stressed that it is the first bottle of its kind with a transparent label in Nigeria; he said it was deliberately achieved because “Heineken hides nothing of its premium quality. The new green neck foil is inspired by the shape of a smile and is now wrapped around a longer neck. The stylish embossment at the back is a proof of authenticity and class. Together with the modern curves it adds a tactile nature that is pleasant to touch and that improves grip”, Drenth added.

The beer market in Nigeria is still growing; competition may be keen, but, what matters is for consumers to continuously approve of a brand. There is no gainsaying the fact that Heineken will continue to have national acceptance in Nigeria.

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