Having been in Kigali the capital of Rwanda for about a week now, I couldn’t help but notice brands such as Primus and Mutzig and alongside global brands such as Heineken and Guinness. On further interrogation, I noticed that the first three were Heineken brands brewed locally. Guinness, however, remained a product of the East African Breweries based in Nairobi Kenya. I’m gaining some serious insights as I embark on the beer trail in Africa where Heineken and Guinness rule the roost.
Africa has been described as the fastest-growing beer market in the world. This is to the extent that reports also show that Multinational brewers look to tap Africa’s $13bn beer market (FT April 2017).
In this third instalment of my treatise, my focus is on trends in the sector taken from the purview of Rwanda.
In Brewers in Africa Part 1, I recall mentioning earlier that I would return to a particular subject matter in the hope that it would enable me resolve the matter prior to contacting these two brewers. Yes, that matter has to do with the dynamic of five Nations arranged in alphabetical order: Ghana, England, Ireland (Irish), Nigeria, and The Netherlands (Dutch).
In that post I pondered over three alliances thus:
- Ireland, England, and Nigeria (Guinness).
- Ireland and Ghana (Guinness and Star Beer).
- Nigeria and The Netherlands (Star Beer and Heineken).
It is interesting to note that the Nigerian Breweries Plc. (NB), is a subsidiary of Heineken, which I found a bit confusing. In Nigeria, the brand is a flagship of NB, a subsidiary of the Dutch beer behemoth, Heineken, but in Ghana it is brewed by Guinness – arguably a competition.
In my follow-on post, Brewers in Africa Part 2, my focus shifted to indigenous African Brewers (Hero Beer, Nigeria) seeking to engage their target audiencethroughemotionalrather than rational appeals – borrowing a leaf from the consumer behaviour, and/ or marketing communications lexicon. It also resonates with the growing exploits of an indigenous group in the Southeast of Nigeria, the Igbos, who, as the world now appreciates, are widely dispersed across Nigeria, Africa and farther afield.
It is based on both that I return with this part, i.e., Brewers in Africa Part 3, where Heineken re-emerges albeit on a different kind of level. To my surprise, the Rwandan Brewer, Bralirwa Plc has been a subsidiary of the Heineken Group since the early 1970s, which holds 75% of its shares. Bralirwa Plc is also license holder of The Coca-Cola Company – bottling and marketing non-alcoholic beverages of the latter.
The Primus brand is arguably the most known beer on Rwandan market, playing in the lower mainstream segment. The brand has maintained a strong reputation for its quality and appealing taste, and as indicated in its brand tagline “Primus, Yacu Iwacu”, it is well known for its national pride, togetherness, and friendship proposition.By the way, did anyone notice the Star sign (logo) on Primus?
In summing up, the alliances seem a four-fold one with Guinness and Heineken well embedded in Africa. For example, Guinness (Ireland, England, and Nigeria); Guinness and Nigerian Breweries (Ireland, Nigeria, and The Netherlands); Guinness and Star Beer in Ghana (Ireland and Ghana); and finally,Primusand Heineken (Rwanda and The Netherlands).Last but not least, Guinness also thrives in Rwanda perhaps well above its rival brand Legend (part of the Heineken Group), but it is a product of Nairobi-based East African Breweries in Kenya – a single indirectly wholly-owned Kenyan subsidiary company, Diageo Kenya Limited.
Nnamdi Madichie is currently Professor of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at the University of Kigali. He is also Research Fellow at the Bloomsbury Institute in London. Professor Madichie is a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM) and the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI) – both of which demonstrate his recognition by UK professional bodies of international repute. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SHEA) of England & Wales. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org