By Moses Kaketo
The Buganda Kingdom is collaborating with Uganda Breweries Limited to manufacture the Kingdom beer called Ngule. The Ngule is Luganda word meaning ‘‘Crown’’. The beer that is largely made out of cassava flour is sold at Ugx. 1500. The project has received mixed feelings from Baganda.
Speaking at the launch of the new beer, the Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga sounded positive that beer would turn around the Kingdom’s farmers’ fortunes by creating a market for their cassava. He called on the Baganda to grow more cassava to support the project.
The project has been described as a move in the right direction as Katikkiro seeks to breathe life into the glory of Buganda Kingdom. However, analysts say for this beer to survive in the market, a lot must be done. Whilst the beer may not live to see the Kingdom’s 2016 end of year fete.
Also read: Buganda Kingdom unveils TV Station
The one big question analysts are asking is whether a clear marketing strategy was indeed designed for this beer. This comes at a time when management seems to have failed on a few things from the start. For example, after launching the beer on 31st December 2015, management went in for a ‘holiday’ only to come back after a few nearly a month. This is enough time for people to forget you or the brand. Remember the saying: Out of sight is out of mind.
A closer look at the people on board of Majestic Brands, the company that is supposed to manage and steer the brand, none seem to have a background in marketing.
The Ugandan market and, more so, the beer market is indeed very competitive. Thus, for any business to endure, it needs people who are well-to-do in marketing. Otherwise, businesses are driven by business people.
Analysts say the Kingdom has all it takes for her projects to flourish, but what usually fails her businesses (take the example of the defunct Teffe Bank, the struggling K2 Telecom and host of others) is the poor business model and execution. This, according to analysts is because the kingdom sometimes fails to take on professionals to run these projects. Yet, the kingdom is ranked as among the top regions with highly qualified, highly trained and experienced people in nearly all fields. Sorry to say that they have not tapped into this huge resource.
Marketers are saying, without a clear strategy, the Engule beer may vanish sooner than later. Otherwise, fort this beer to live to tell the story, management ought to recruit tactical and experienced people in fast moving goods (FMCG’s) to drive it in the highly competitive beer market. Analysts say, management ought to have done a though business analysis. They needed to have developed to serious market study using SOSTAC. Otherwise, it may be very hard for the Engule to survive and flourish.
Nyimpini Mabunda the Uganda Breweries Managing Director was quoted in local media as saying: ‘‘I actually sampled it myself, and found it lacking. It lacks that rich, crisp taste of a premium beer’’
The saturated beer market
Who is Ngule beer targeting? Given its low pricing and quality, it is targeting the lower segment. However, already there are a host of brands serving this segment; Nile Breweries with Eagle Extra and Eagle Lager Plus Chibuku. While Uganda Breweries has Senator Lager. These brands have established themselves in the market. That said, if the Engule has to overtake the existing ones, it has to posses unique selling point, high quality, clear positioning. Taken together, it has to have a clear marketing strategy. A feature, it currently lacks.
With the official partner beer, Uganda Breweries having a similar brand-Senator Lager that the targets same market as Kingdom’s beer. A fundamental question arises, is UBL going to drop her brand to front Engule? Will UBL give the two competing brands the same mileage? Are they going to have parallel distribution channel? What distribution channel are they going to use? These key questions that need answers and will without a doubt determine the beer’s success in the market.
Otherwise, handling over your product to someone who already sells a similar brand and you expect better results can also be tricky.
According to a city marketing specialist, if the Kingdom beer is going to ride on the back of UBL, then it has to carry out a lot of marketing which must be mufti faced-using all channels-Radio, TV, outdoor advertising, banners, stickers, samples among others.
The kingdom media houses; CBS and BBS tv alone cannot bring results. There are many people, especially in rural areas who don’t have radio’s or own TV sets to tune into the Kingdom radio media house, yet they may have to take Engule. Effective marketing calls for a huge budget for marketing, which according to analysts does not seem to be there.
Analysts and industry experts agree on one thing, if the Engule Beer is to survive, the board must recruit highly, qualified, highly experienced people in a fast moving goods sector (FMGC’s) otherwise Engule is an FMGC. Undeniably, Uganda’s beer market is one of the toughest. Ask the traditional players Nile Breweries and Uganda Breweries. Paramount Breweries had to close shop while other players, including Heineken are finding it hard to survive. Of recent, market leaders Nile Breweries are facing it hard to maintain their market share. Their flagship brand Eagle registered a decline in sales and market share.
If not, the Ugandan beer market is saturated. The Upper market has so many players and many are struggling. The Middle and lower end of the market (where Engule) is playing from, is also saturated and can only be described as the toughest. Therefore, the management of Majestic brands must be ready for the tough one.