• Monday, July 22, 2024
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What Nigerian brands can learn from Heineken’s 150 years long existence


Brand owners should customarily pay attention when another brand marks long existence. First, it is to understand the secret of long survival and secondly it is for adoption of strategies. In this report, Daniel Obi looks at some pillars that have kept Heineken brand for 150 years and lessons for Nigerian brands.

Heineken, one of the world’s most recognised premium beer brands is commemorating 150 years of existence in the international market. Within these 15 decades, it has established presence in over 190 countries. Having achieved this feat in the global socio-economic turbulence, like any other brand, it indeed needs to roll out red carpets for the celebration.

From the beginning, the brand has put consumers first with understanding that brand loyalty and customer satisfaction are key to profitability brand acceptability. To it, return on investment must not only come in the form of cash but in customer loyalty, referral and repeat visits.

Traditionally, the brand positioned itself as a product that cares for consumers. It desired to be seen and ensures that consumers are having good times which is in line with its brand promise. This brand promise is encapsulated in Freddy Heineken’s famous words “I don’t sell beer, I sell gezelligheid”. “Gezelligheid” translated as feeling of good times. This has however been at the heart of the Heineken marketing strategy and the feeling it wants its consumers to experience.

To Heineken, success is not just on the volume of beer it sells but also the good times it delivers for its customers in all the countries it has a presence. This is a big lesson to brands who think that profit comes first.

Hans Essaadi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Breweries Plc, custodian of the brand said: “As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Heineken brand, we remain committed to strengthening our presence in Nigeria and continuing our journey of fostering positive change. We look forward to building on our legacy and creating more opportunities for growth, collaboration, and shared moments of joy with Nigerians.”

The brand also designed brand-building strategies to appropriately engage consumers through their touching points. It leverages sports and fashion sponsorship and the engagement of world class celebrities to connect with its audience. For example, one of its global commercials starred Daniel Craig (who plays James Bond in Skyfall in 2012) and his co-stars.

Other celebrities are Conor McGregor, UFC fighter and MMA champion; Landon Donovan, U.S. soccer; and others. In Nigeria, it has Jay Okocha as a brand ambassador and among others.

It also throws its weight behind fashion events like Lagos Fashion Week (LagosFW), supporting the growth of the industry. LagosFW is a fashion platform that drives the Nigerian and ultimately, the African fashion industry; by bringing together buyers, consumers, and the media to view the current collections of designers at a four- day event in the fashion capital of Lagos, Nigeria.

On sports, Heineken aligns with sports with massive global audiences as a key marketing strategy, such as the UEFA Champions League, Rugby World Cup, and Formula 1.

Recently in Nigeria, it hosted the Heineken UEFA Champions League (UCL) Viewing Experience, the event marks the climax of the football season and fans were treated to an unforgettable night filled with football, music, and excitement including enjoying cool Heineken.

Asides from the experience, it also brings the UEFA Champions’ trophy to the country and embarks on a tour with notable international and Nigerian sports personalities and music stars. Some of the international football stars who have embarked on the tour with the brand are Spanish and Real Madrid legend, Carles Puyol and football legend Clarence Seedorf. Nigerian legends, Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, and others have also been a part of the tour including music star, Davido. This stride many industry watchers said is an inspiration to the youth to strive for greatness while the brand is cementing its relationship with consumers.

On another note, Heineken is also the official global sponsor of the F1 race; in Nigeria, it recently hosted an exhilarating Monaco Grand Prix Watch Party in Lagos. It partnered with DStv, the official broadcast sponsor of F1 races in the country to host the event.

“Bringing the Monaco experience to Lagos was an absolute thrill for us as we were able to create opportunities for fans to immerse themselves in the excitement and thrill of Formula 1 whilst celebrating the spirit of passion, and performance. “ Sampson Oloche, Portfolio Manager, Premium Brands, NB Plc, said at the event.

To deepen its consumer engagement, Nigerian Breweries said it would host events in key cities across the country with the aim to bring consumers together for a memorable experience of music and entertainment as part of the 150 years celebration. It also disclosed that it would launch a reward scheme to say thank you for consumers’ loyalty to the brand.

“We will be organising events in key cities across the country, where our valued consumers can come together and experience the true essence of gezelligheid. These celebrations will showcase the vibrancy of Nigerian culture, featuring live music, entertainment, and unforgettable moments that capture the spirit of Heineken”.

Nigerians brands have a lot to learn from long history of Heineken inspired by its enduring marketing strategy and association with communities that matter to it. Take home is that, it built the brand before profit.