Raising the Stake in the Seasoning Market

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Competition in the seasoning market may assume a new trend following the introduction of new varieties of Knorr by Unilever Nigeria Plc, Raheem Akingbolu reports…
In recent times, the battle for the soul of Nigerian seasoning market has been between two giants in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector of the economy; the Unilever Nigeria Plc and Nestle.  Though there are other players like Doyin Group, makers of Doyin Cube and Daily Need Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of Suppy, it is clear that Unilever and Nestle are the market leaders. While Unilever rocks the market with Knorr and Royco, Nestle rides on the strength of Maggi cube as a legendary brand. 
But despite its legendary status, Maggi has continued to receive punches from competing brands. From time to time, the major players, especially Unilever makes subtle move to checkmate Nestlé’s attempt to consolidate on the past glories of Maggi. Among other innovative tools, handlers of other brands have successfully leveraged on promotions, activations and strong advertising champagnes to increase market share.
Fresh move
Last week in Lagos, promoters of Knorr made the fast move by re-launching the repackaged Knorr seasoning. According to them, the brand was reformulated to deliver superiority on taste, as it is a winning concept with a compelling insight and proposition for its consumers to buy into. The event, which was witnessed mostly by the brand’s key distributors and its teeming consumers was organised to give patrons a good evening treatment, thereby strengthening its influence in the market.
According to the Managing Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc, Mr. Thabo Mabe, the exploit of the company in the area of market research has remained one of its staying power. “We spend as much as we can to understand the deepest consumer in the urban and rural areas. How much I understand the consumer is more important than how much I spend,” he told newsmen shortly after the unveiling.
In the same way, the company had last year introduced two new additions to the Royco family –the new Royco Seasoning Powder for stews, and another for soups.  At the launch in Abuja, the company indicated that it was being introduced to give Nigerians women better aroma and taste from their everyday cooking. Two things made the launch strategic: the Abuja venue and the N5 price tag placed on the product. By holding the unveiling ceremony in the nation’s capital, it was believed in some quarters that the handlers were sending signal to whoever cared to listen that they meant to take over the entire market and changed the perception that Royco was only popular in the North.
Brand’s attributes
Aside the fact that the new Knorr was meant to deliver superiority on taste, it also came with exciting packaging that re-enforces these benefits. The new and improved Knorr cube is said to bring out the very best in all dishes, making it burst with tantalising flavour.
The brand team assures consumers that the improved Knorr seasoning cube cost exactly the same as the old and some of its key attributes include: the Knorr beef is now 3x Meatier, both variants have an exceptional new packaging with an appetite appeal through the food visual on the pack and they are easier to crumble. It also scored best on Overall Opinion, Overall Taste and Overall Appearance during its testing phase in Nigeria. The management said “this year we sold not only 3 billion cubes of Knorr.”
Mabe said “what is important to his company as a business is continuing to innovate to meet the needs of the consumers and also how we give them something better. The brand has been on our stable for close to 175 years. Within this period, we have continually improved Knorr and the taste. “It is not only what Knorr stands for but performance. I am excited that we are satisfying Nigerians with the new taste of Knorr, in terms of formulation, the outlook of the product and key important feature is that the ingredients are coming from natural resources.”
The new seasoning is nothing like ever seen before in the Nigerian market and it would blow away the minds of consumers, according to David Okeme, the brand building director, Unilever Nigeria, while speaking at the re-launch event. Also speaking, Bolanle Kehinde-Lawal, the category manager, savoury, urged consumers and lovers of the brand to try out the new improved Knorr cubes, especially as the festive season, which is fast approaching, was a time to prepare great meals and celebrate with loved ones.
Other players
Though Daily Need Nigeria Limited and Doyin Group of Companies, manufacturers of Suppy and Doyin cube respectively, are also making impact, the global influence of the two giant players hinders their spread and popularity. For this reason, it is believed that Suppy and Doyin appeal only to the people at the lowest ebb of the market.
Nestlé’s Maggi, which has since assumed a generic status, is a household name, but recent developments in the market have cost it a substantial part of its market share. In the first place, immediately Unilever Nigeria Plc took over the manufacturing and sales of Knorr seasoning from Cadbury Nigeria Plc in December 2005, the company began a series of activation, which tend to create a bond between average families in Nigeria with Knorr. One of such activations was the popular Power of Meal Times campaign project which saw the company organising family picnics every year. Though this was matched by the Nestlé’s Maggi Cook for Mama Competition, the involvement of all family members in the Knorr exercise made it more impactful.
Picking from Mr. Bigg’s Glass Cup Promotion
In name and propositions, the ongoing joint promotion between Quick Service Restaurant giant –Mr. Bigg’s and her strategic beverage partner, Coca Cola, appears a veer-off the normal routine.
Tagged ‘Glass cup Promotion’, the joint effort was designed to give patrons of the QSR company a new experience this Yuletide season with bountiful rewards.  
According to the partners, the promotion which will push 120,000 Coca-Cola cups into the homes of many Nigerians is geared towards giving our loyal consumers an adventure to spice up the season. The cups come in five exciting colours vis: Black, Yellow, Green, Blue and Red.
Marketing Manager, Mr. Bigg’s, Nnenna Azuka-Onwuka, said the cups are exquisite and once you collect one colour, you want to collect all five. “It is a collector’s item and we want them in as many homes as possible,” she stated.
Speaking on what makes it an adventure, Managing Director, UAC Restaurants limited; Derrick Van Houten said the strategy to make the cups come in five different colours is to give the customers something different to look forward to at every visit.
He said between November  and January, when the promotion is expected to last, consumers can collect, one or all of the five cups, adding that these cups are a collector’s item.
“To collect the cup, all a consumer does, is buy products worth N1,500 including any Coca-Cola Product from any Mr Bigg’s Restaurant, nationwide and he gets a free cup. It is that simple. Mr Bigg’s and Coca-Cola, two market leading brands are excited at this opportunity to deliver another first to the Nigerian consumers, it is the brands’ little way of saying thank you to their loyal consumers,” he said.
It was further stated that the promotion has recorded immense success in the various markets where Coca-Cola has implemented it with other QSR brands and promises to be a huge success in Nigeria as well.
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