Uche Akolisa |
Big Cola is the first cola drink to challenge the seemly established duopoly of beverage giants; Coca-Cola and 7up. They have for over three decades dominated the cola drink market with Coca-Cola(Coke) and Pepsi, respectively. However, the Big Cola is seen by industry watchers as a direct threat to Coca-Cola due to its taste- a near-perfect copy of Coke.
The last competitor of the Cola drinks in Nigeria, Olo Cola and Dr Pepper, failed in the 80s and since then, no brands dared the giants.
According to the manufacturers, the Big Cola which is flying a “No Caffeine” kite contains carbonated water, sugar, natural identical cola flavor, caramel color, phosphoric acid and sodium benzoate. The product with NAFDAC Registration Number:08-1879, emblazoned on the bottle comes in three variants; Big Cola, Big Orange and Big Lemon .
Business Hallmark Investigations revealed that Big Cola which sells at a retail price of N100 (though the price tag on the 650ml bottle is N90) is already making waves in Lagos, Asaba and the Eastern Heartland especially, Onitsha, where hawkers in motor parks prefer to peddle it due to its higher profit margin. A carton of Big Cola which contains 12 PET bottles goes for between N850 to N900 while 50 cl Coca-Cola of the same quantity goes for between N900 and N950.
According to company sources, the new product , targeted at C to E segment of the market is aimed at providing carbonated drink consumers ‘quality and volume for less.’
Speaking on the strategy the brand owners are deploying to penetrate the already constricting carbonated drink market, an official of Ajeast Nigeria Limited, Michael Daniels, said, “We are offering consumers more value in terms of quality and volume for less money. Meaning- anyone, anywhere and at anytime, can afford to drink a carbonated soft drink. This is our global philosophy. ”
An experience of the Big Cola revealed that but for the not so-bright label, Big Cola tastes exactly like Coke. Same goes for its variant, Big Orange which tastes like Fanta. However, the Big Lemon, is more of Sprite than the Lemon it lays claims to.
Consumers and retailers who have experienced the new brand while speaking with Hallmark, confirmed the marked similarities. A hawker at Ojodu-Berger , Lagos, who would not want to be identified said of Big Cola, “ It is the same thing as Coke.”
A consumer, Emmanuel Okakadigbo, told Hallmark he drank Big Orange and “ it tastes like Fanta.” “There is no difference,” he concluded.
Ajeast Nigeria Limited is a subsidiary of AJE Group, a multinational of Peruvian origins known for value-for-money soft drink products. The Aje Group has presence in Latin America, Asia and Africa in countries like Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Egypt. According to the Euromonitor, AJE is the 4th largest producer of carbonated soft drinks in the world in terms of sales volume.