Culture as a Unique Selling Point

DIAGEO, WORLD’S LARGEST PRODUCER OF SPIRITS AND A MAJOR PLAYER IN BEER AND WINE IS WEIGHING IN BIG ON THE NIGERIAN ALCOHOL MARKET WITH THE COUNTRY’S VERY OWN WEAPON; CULTURE.

  Guinness African Special event, Benin

Guinness African Special event, Benin

Guinness Nigeria has for many years pushed the popular global brand, Guinness stout. Guinness stout, being a premium stout brand started feeling the pains of the region’s economic struggle early as consumers started opting for cheaper options in place of their premium equivalent. An interesting move by the company showed a careful and intelligent monitoring of consumers behaviour; the introduction of Orijin.

 Orijin Creative // Source: coloribus.com

Orijin Creative // Source: coloribus.com

 Orijin Creative Promoting African Culture // Source: adeevee.com

Orijin Creative Promoting African Culture // Source: adeevee.com

The birth of Orijin was not only timely but also calculated. Observing Nigerians, it’s easy to see that root and herbs play a big role in the culture of Nigerians across regions; being used as food, medicine and lots more. Leveraging on this reality, Guinness applied some thought out strategy in winning more than 50 percent of the market for non-beer bottled drinks with a similar alcohol strength in 2013.

Culture

The old age African Culture of using root and herbs started gaining more popularity in modern Nigeria as street corners were getting populated with herbal mixes of diverse sorts. Herbal mixes were getting mixed with gin, rum and other alcohol options. This must have informed the introduction of an alcoholic beverage made with (African) root and herbs. Repacking ancient culture for the New Nigerian man and this worked magic. The selling point tied to the Orijin brand is the use of culture in communication. With a full understanding of the contemporary Nigerian taste, the bigger population, being young, want to be modern yet close to their cultural heritage. This is exactly the philosophy the Orijin Brand preaches.

Chris Stagg, Diageo’s General Manager for innovation once highlighted this philosophy in a phone interview;

With Nigerian consumers being surrounded by such rapid change in a global culture, it’s really important to be modern and progressive and stay connected with a Nigerian identity
 Popular Traditional Nigerian Herbal Drink, Agbo Jedi // Source: gloryroots.com

Popular Traditional Nigerian Herbal Drink, Agbo Jedi // Source: gloryroots.com

Communication

The communication was well tailored for the African market, made to leave the consumer feeling at home and naturally connected with the brand. Also, Guinness Nigeria was smart in the product packaging, keeping it contemporary yet African. Other alcoholic bitters like Alomo bitters which was leading the alcoholic bitters market before Orijin lost it here; the packaging and branding was a bit below the contemporary mark, leaving the product behind in the wake of Orijin’s introduction. This strategy was very evident in the brand nomenclature playing on a very smooth pun "Origin" as regards being connected to the African root and "Origin-al". Original to average Nigerian means more than just being authentic. It is plays out in interesting lingual expressions from Orijo to Original, this language was adopted by the brand to bring the drink home

Innovation

Orijin came after the introduction of Orijin bitters.  Orijin which is a sweeter alternative of the Orijin brand was perhaps born out of consumer behaviour research. Consumers who could not stand the very bitter taste of the initial product took to mixing the drink with sweeter beverages. Guinness solved this challenge by introducing Orijin and later taking an even bolder step in the introduction of Orijin Zero; a non-alcoholic beverage rich in African roots and herbs.

It is also noteworthy to say that Nigerian consumers are slowly ditching beers and switching to alternative alcoholic beverages, the Orijin product took advantage of this. Unlike beer, Orijin does not contain barley or hops, rather the brand is preached as "a bittersweet blend with flavours of African herbs and fruit" (kolanut, prune, oakwood, bitter orange peel, wormwood). Kolanut which plays a big role in the traditional Nigerian culture was of course the first to be mentioned, and was also boldly presented in the visuals of the product ads. 

Scale Up

Seeing how successful this narrative of promoting the African heritage has been, Guinness Nigeria is spreading this into the packaging and advertising of another smart innovation, the Guinness African special; a localized reimagined variant of the Brand’s global product, the Guinness Stout. The Guinness African Special boasts of containing herbs, spices and ginger grown in Africa. (Notice: “Grown in Africa”, doesn’t that suddenly draw you in? Just seeing that gives you a sense of ownership). 

 Guinness African Special, product wrap showing African print design // Source: Designbridge.com

Guinness African Special, product wrap showing African print design // Source: Designbridge.com

Guinness Nigeria is currently using the “Young, Black and truly Nigerian” Narrative in selling the new product. No better time than now is this narrative timely, seeing as Africans and most especially Nigerians are taking pride in their traditional culture while expressing it in modern forms. Africanism is fast becoming global pop culture and this is why the Guinness African special is riding on the trend. A close a look at the product’s branding shows African print-like wrap on the bottle. The harp which is the brand’s identity has been made to blend into the map of Africa, selling ownership and inclusion. Bright and youthful colours have also been carefully employed to reach the target audience; the youths. Using pop culture elements of graffiti, rap music and displays of the vibrant young African spirit through performances, Guinness is being deliberate in reaching its audience. Osa7, a popular Nigerian Graffiti artist was selected to work with the brand on the advertising and events branding. 

 Graffiti Artist, Osa7 // Source: The netng

Graffiti Artist, Osa7 // Source: The netng

To be African for many is to be black and this identity is the force behind the made of black campaign. Of identity, strength and youthful vigour. The Guinness Made of Black Campaign which is promoting the vibrant culture of the new Africa in Music, art, fashion and design. The design on the product, creatives, general campaign didn't fall short in expressing this. Choosing Phyno, Nigeria's top indigenous rapper was a careful choice and same could be said for Yemi Alade who has been branded "Mama Africa". Ads where released showing these icons sitting on African thrones, like true Africa kings and Queens wearing African prints. The African Culture, heritage and Identity is weapon Guinness is leveraging on in weighing in on the Nigerian and African Alcohol Market and it seems to be working just fine.