Thursday, 21 February 2013



Kenya’s brand terrain is littered with many brands. Some are as old as Kenya while others are relatively new having made it to the scene in the 21st Century. Amongst these brands, there are those that boast of having a special place in the hearts and minds of Kenyan consumers such as Tusker among other EABL brands. However this kind of loyalty, adoration and recognition this brand enjoys is worth all they spend on it. The success of this brand is worth every coin they pump into it and gives them value for money.

Before I go on, Tabitha Karanja is a great woman entrepreneur who has grown the Naivasha based brewery from a “Chang’aa” packaging factory to the second largest brewery in Kenya. This is my opinion; you may agree, dispute or add on to it!
So what does she or Keroche Breweries do wrong?

Distribution channels are an important part of the marketing for beer manufacturers, and not just beer but soft drinks. I want to mention Coca Cola here, when they realized that their competition wasn’t only Pepsi but anything that can ‘quench your thirst’ they changed their strategy to “Make Coke Available Everywhere”. Back to EABL and Keroche, the latter may not have invested well in their distribution systems, building customer and brand loyalty requires availability of the product. That’s one place where EABL beats Keroche squarely. I will find Tusker everywhere, cold or warm- just as I like it of course at different prices. So if Keroche wants to really fight up for this space let the consumers get the product in their favourite local. KBL seems to have come up with Summit’s fighter brand called Balozi but its gaining popularity among Tusker consumers and not eating into Summit’s . This is something Keroche could exploit by a stronger distribution network especially in smaller towns.

Digital media helps with deepening the brand memorability in a very subtle way if done well. It’s also about deepening loyalty and the experience. A strong digital presence is crucial for brands especially on social media. New media is transforming the way the world does business. Today the implications are huge and the prizes are enormous for those businesses who handle it right. Social media marketing eliminates the middlemen, providing brands the unique opportunity to have a direct relationship with their customers. Keroche clearly is not keen on taking the full advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation. On  Keroche breweries Ltd Facebook page they have 613 fans and @KerocheBrewery with 523 followers and Tabitha Karanja's handle which has 6005 followers.

Keroche needs a social media manager to assist in coordinating special events e.g. launches, sponsorships, CSR events etc as such information needs to be shared with the community. They need someone who integrates their media plan, PR plan and the experiential activities planned to his plan on social media. The manager should also be a close liaison with other departments in the organization and agencies to help integrate social media into their efforts. Don’t be the old school guys who were used to the “me me me” marketing where we paid to play, bought attention (Experiential efforts, PR, ad space on newspapers, TV and OOH) with a huge budget which you probably don’t have compared to what EABL has. (You can hire me to fix your issues on social media and handle the big brands for you squarely)

Experiential marketing allows your customers to engage and interact with your products, and services in sensory ways that provide the icing on the cake. It's all about personal experiences that help people connect to a brand to help them make intelligent and informed purchasing decisions. It's a unique approach which integrates elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer. I haven’t heard of Keroche doing activations, sponsorships or such kind of thing to ‘bring the brand closer to the people’.

Road shows? Promos?You need to re-look at your target consumers touch points and see how to engage them.

On the other side, we don't need to list what Pilsner, Tusker etc do. I am not trying to say you need to do all that but at least put some resources into a good experiential campaign, no one will throw stones at your road show, storm your bar activations etc!

Keroche needs to build a clear brand positioning followed a structured approach. First, it has to establish a brand mission according to the overall mission of the company which should be reflected in the core values of the company. Is it quality products? Innovation? Design? Price leadership? What’s their differentiators?

Secondly, Keroche needs to develop a distinctive value proposition to foster its brand strategy across B2C and B2B businesses.

I am yet to understand who the Keroche brands consumer is!
Who do Keroche target with its various brands? This is never clear with their TV commercials, print ads and outdoor campaigns. If I can’t get that as a marketer I don’t think the kawaida mwananchi will get it!

Keroche needs to lose the tag of its roots, past and where they started! I still remember Vienna days and it didn’t do well to people who drank it!

I would recommend a re-branding to lose the “Keroche tag” because it definitely has impacted negatively on the consumer perceptions of their various brands.

Their association, partnership or affiliation with the PM is what their competitors are now using to ‘hammer them’ and spread rumours.

Secondly Keroche breweries need to do a major campaign pushing a clear brand promise. If they want to ‘look and feel’ Kenyan they definitely have to put some effort in gaining that acceptance. Kenyans feel and believe Tusker is a Kenyan brand….see how Safaricom made us believe Mpesa was Kenyan?

Can Keroche really work to gain that acceptance? Yes they can however as they ‘Kenyanize’ the brand they need to first know whom they are targeting! I have seen them talk about their beer being sugar free, tell the consumers the benefits of drinking sugar free beers or talk about the dangers of drinking beer with sugar additives. Make the consumer understand the uniqueness in your products and the value proposition/

For this I suggest Keroche needs a very a guerrilla marketing and a PR team to counter the misconceptions and negative brand perceptions. You cannot play safe or seek public sympathy when your billboards are torn, when bar owners are threatened whenthey stock your products or when such rumours as those they are currently facing. You’ve got to DO SUMTHN!

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