Hero beer from the brewery house –SABMiller has in so short a time warmed its way into the taste buds of beer drinkers in South Eastern Nigeria.
The success of the beer which was launched into the Nigerian market in August 2012 has got Nigerian Breweries Plc, brewers of Star, Harp and Heineken beers worried as Hero appears to have edged out Star and Harp brands as market leader in the South Eastern states of Nigeria.
A report by citizenng.com alleges that Nigerian Breweries Plc budgeted the sum of N500M (over $3M) as incentives to distributors and retailers who do not stock Hero beer.
In the report, a retailer in Amawbia, Anambra state was quoted as saying that “NB Plc sales representatives visit us regularly to monitor if we are selling Hero beer or not and at the end of the month, they give us 12 cartons of Star as compensation and loyalty. So when customers come to ask for Hero beer, we keep telling them that we are yet to get supplies from their distributors”.
If this allegation is true, it appears that it has backfired and is rather working to the advantage of Hero as customers see such artificial scarcity as sign that the beer is so good that its demand outstrips the capacity of SABMiller to meet it.
Beer drinkers have christened Hero ‘Oh Mpa’, in reverence and as a mark of respect (Mpa means father in Igbo language).
Edem Vindah, the Media and Brand PR Manager of NB Plc however denies this saying that the organisation would not give out incentives to retailers to halt sales of competing products.
Despite its taste, it may seem that the logo of the beer which depicts a rising sun just like the Biafran flag has struck a deep chord amongst Igbo people. The Igbos had fought a civil war as Biafrans against the Nigerian government. Memories of that war still linger and there are still deep rooted sentiments amongst the Igbos for anything Biafran.
|The Biafran Flag|
Former Anambra state governor, Peter Obi was known to have facilitated the process of attracting SABMiller to invest in the state and is also rumoured to be a shareholder. Mr Obi was a known disciple of the late Emeka Ojukwu, leader of the Biafras who was the party leader of APGA, the party under whose platform Mr Obi got elected. Ojukwu was a hero to many Igbos and has remained a symbol of defiance to injustice globally. It is apt that the beer is also called Hero.
The name Hero (in apparent honour of Ojukwu), smart adaptation of the rising sun depicted in the Biafran flag as logo and a unique beer taste are all smart product and marketing decisions working to the advantage of Hero beer.
|Typical bar shelf in South Eastern Nigeria|
A visit to any local bar in South Eastern Nigeria will show that Hero beer is holding its own in the competition for shelf space, another example of how ethnic branding can connect a brand to its target customers. A Hero beer lover remarked that "In Hero beer, the spirit of Ojukwu and Biafra rise again".