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Some Big Lessons for “Big Cola”



So Nigerians love Coca-Cola this much? That is if one considers just how quickly the ‘Some Big Lessons for Big Cola‘ article began trending on social media. The write-up has got several people commenting on how much they grew up with Coke, and the good memories of family and friends it brings to mind.

It is interesting how the new drink, Big Cola tried to bring attention to itself by dissing Coca-Cola, but it appears it has only brought back the good and refreshing moments people have with Coke. Well, we are publishing the article here for you to make your judgement, and of course, refresh.

Raheem Akingbolu writes on the competition in the carbonated soft drinks market and the hurdles before Big Cola, the new entrant into the market.

When a new entrant comes into a competition with established players, it often comes with a lot of hubris and razzmatazz. Soon enough reality sets in that the race is not a sprint but a marathon. Perhaps this is a lesson that the AJE group – owners of Big Cola – needs to take into cognizance as it makes its entry into the dynamic Nigerian market of carbonated soft drinks, where Coca-Cola and Pepsi have held sway for decades.

According to an article in Financial Times, a combination of low-cost operating strategy and clever marketing has enabled AJE make inroads in some markets in Latin America and Asia. This could be an interesting time for all players and the consumers will no doubt gain from the firework that is sure to follow.

The launch, the message

With a clear message ‘You think Big, You drink Big‘, which serves as pay-off, AJEAST Nigeria Limited, a unit of AJE Group, a multinational beverage company, recently entered the market with varieties -Big Cola, Big Orange and Big Lemon.

With its footprints in over 20 countries of the world and as an official England promotional partner, including the FA Cup and Barcelona, handlers of the brand are confident that it would succeed in Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch, which was held in Agbara area of Ogun State, the Country Manager of the company, Theo Williams, said, “The focus is about consumers, AJE in Nigeria is to offer ‘big’ for everybody, we are giving more for less. We want to ensure that consumers get something affordable that they can share with families and friends“.

We are on a line, where we produce the bottles; we do the wrapping and packaging. Our aim is to offer more for less, while other soft drinks of 50cl are being sold for N100, we say no, giving 15cl so that consumers can see the benefit. We will introduce new brand every three months“.

Williams added that the unique selling model the company had adopted with regards to pricing in Nigeria is to ensure that the group has the ability to monitor the consumer price. He also pointed out that the company has capacity to its budgeted consumer in the next six months.

He put their investment at N5billion, saying it is expected to be in operation in Cameroon in July 2016, while negotiations are still ongoing in other African countries.

The big question

The big question for Big Cola, however, is whether its promoters will be able to compete sustainably in Nigeria? However, as people say in this part of the world, time will tell.

Other questions on the minds of most analysts are: what chance does Big Cola have in a market in which the global giants mainly Coca-Cola and to some extent Pepsi reign supreme? Would a cheaper price-tag be the propeller for Big Cola’s potential growth in the Nigerian Market? The answer is certainly dicey for now, especially in a market that is predominated by traditional trade.

Big Cola has got its work cut out! Even with their price penetration strategy, it would face a tough challenge.

The big lessons

The first big lesson that Big Cola needs to take seriously is the fact that Nigerian consumers are exposed and aspirational, including those at the bottom of the pyramid. They are not easily swayed by any product or service that aims to fascinate rather than satisfy their refined taste and quest for brands with strong appeal. Most Nigerians may be poor but they have a high aspiration that gives them a strong sense of entitlement to quality. So, while under the burden of necessity, they may endure a “cheap article”, their eyes and hearts are set upon the real thing, their preferred products or brands.

Quality products will always resonate with consumers, and repeat purchase is inevitable once that is guaranteed. That is what a company like Coca-Cola has enjoyed over the years, having gained a public perception as the quality benchmark for soft drinks. Will Big Cola pass the taste and quality tests long enough to win over the Nigerian consumer?

The second big lesson for Big Cola is that the Nigerian consumer is sophisticated and cannot be sustainably wooed with showiness and propaganda. In other words, you cannot pull wool over their eyes only for a short while. ‘Big talk’ is good for psychological and religious motivations that have no price tag, but not for selling a product that a Nigerian has to pay for with his or her hard earned money, and especially not when the consumers are already in a decades old love affair with trusted brands like Coke and Pepsi.

But if handlers of Big Cola are indeed sincere in their approach as presented during the launch, then it will be another war in the industry. Again, the brand may end up winning the loyalties of some consumers and puncture the huge market share of the giants in the market.

PR stunts

Reading the PR media blitz on its recent launch event, one gets the feeling that Big Cola probably needs to tone down its hubris and talking-down competition, and focus on how it can, like Coke and Pepsi, build exciting and enduring connections with consumers. Unfortunately for Big Cola, that wily wizard of marketing only recently raised the bar too high with its Share a Coke campaign that numbed all other brands.

The third big lesson for Big Cola is that it has a long way to go in building the level of social footprints and equity that Pepsi and especially Coke have built over the years. Nigeria is a poor country, and connecting with consumers must go beyond products and marketing. Companies must demonstrate social responsibility through their business conduct and through investing in causes and programmes that impact the sustainable development of their communities.

As Big Cola seems intent on sparking off a Cola War in Nigeria, one wonders whether this is a David confronting Goliath or the case of a drunken man prodding a napping lion. Whatever the case, may the consumer win big time!

Advertorial– Sponsored Content


  1. Ada

    November 12, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    This advertorial must have come form Coca Cola. But the truth is, Coca Cola una dey make mistake. Sometimes, it is not good to talk about your competition, you popularise them by talking about them. I mean I never even heard of Big Cola before now and now that I have heard of them from you, I fit try Big Cola at least once to know if it is good or not.

    Lesson for Coca Cola, don’t talk about your competition. Keep the conversation solely on you or you might end up giving publicity to your competition.

    • Aibee

      November 12, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      I hope you are right that CocaCola sponsored this because I was questioning the brilliance of AJE’s media team to put out this media material without even a picture of the Big Cola!

    • funmi

      November 13, 2015 at 9:56 am

      This advertorial from Coca-Cola? i have a different opinion on this. First this was written by a journalist who posted it on his platform “Thisday” then other blogs picked it up even linda did. I think maybe someone is trying to paint Coca-Cola bad here by sponsoring this advertorial on bella. I don’t know mehnn but please this AJE guys should also calm down. wrong messaging is not good for a brand and they are doing that so much.

      It’s still coca cola for Nigerians. Someone is trying to make the brand look bad and i think the Big Cola guys have been doing that even in the newspapers.

    • Mama Ijebu

      December 25, 2015 at 9:45 am

      This made me try it..Mehn. …. The drink is just like coke. ..its now comes in bigger and cheaper. .. Am beginning to suspect a former worker of Coca Cola probably gave out the ingredient. …This na big competition for coke o….. I already got a pack sef. …

  2. Dre

    November 12, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Which Coca Cola? This is from AJE Cola. companies use competition pictures well well.

  3. Miss Me

    November 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    “Nigeria is a poor country” ……….. totally wrong line i dear say.

  4. bunny

    November 12, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    i totally agree with Ada, i haven’t heard of this big cola till now and i believe coke is on that level where they should not even grace such a cheap competition with any attention talk less of sponsoring something like this- i admire their marketing team very much and will give them the benefit of doubt that they had nothing to do with this.

  5. Olayemi

    November 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    This is too petty for cocacola to put out. It’s the Aje team. Poor attempt at taking on a giant using media. Try again.

  6. iwa

    November 12, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Cocacola should take a walk to rural areas and ask questions.
    I am into sales of soft drinks and i can say with facts that ‘Big Cola’ is really taking over the market. we buy more BiG Cola cos of demand by consumers. I guess that is why pepsi changed their bottle to a bigger one for same price. Cocacola needs to work more on PR or else Big Cola will take over.

  7. Seye

    November 12, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    It’s really petty of Cocacola to have brought this particular article to BellaNaija. A simple search on Google shows that the author of this article Raheem Akingbolu is a Cocacola paid journalist. The fact that Bella even labelled it as sponsored smells even more fishy. Next time Cocacola, don’t leave any traces in your dirty deals

    • molarah

      November 12, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      FBI pikin! Nice one there! 🙂

      I actually clicked on this thinking it was an article on Coca Cola. This Big Cola must be giving them sleepless nights. And to the author, no, Nigerians don’t have brand loyalty like that, if the competition is bringing cheaper and more, they will go for it. I noticed Big Cola is now the drink of choice for danfo drivers and their conductors, and all they are offering is 10cl extra for N10 less. I do think they have a long way to go in displacing Coca Cola though, the brand has established its presence not only as a household name but in other non-business facets like CSRs, corporate sponsorships and the like. It will take a lot to top what Coca Cola has done in Nigeria.

  8. Sir B

    November 12, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Oh wow! I came across this exact article on Thisday some weeks back. Now it has resurrected again on Bella with a sponsored tag. It’s hightime i tried out this BIG Cola that is giving Cocacola sleepless nights

  9. Seyi

    November 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    This is a classic case of Negative PR backfiring. The exposure Cocacola has given BIG Cola is priceless. The Big cola media team must be giggling now. I can bet more people will try out Big cola today thanks to this free PR from Coca-cola. I’m enjoying this war 😀 *Grabs Popcorn*

  10. Funky

    November 12, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Coke can never do this kind of cheap advertorial. Aje Coke abi Big Coke una try well well. And since Consumer is the judge here, I know what I want to drink. And it is not Aje sha.

  11. mekus

    November 12, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    This should have been titled – Big Lessons for Coca Cola. Never ever promote your competition. I’ve not even seen the big cola before. Thanks to Cocacola I’d look out for the big cola. I hope they don’t disappoint

  12. Wale

    November 12, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Lool. It’s funny how we Nigerians don’t think competition can actually sponsor this. I have seen brand push out article favouring their biggest competition in order to get public sympathy just like this Big Cola is getting now. Coca-Cola is to established a brand to engage in this. Even Pepsi wey don dey tey tey no give Coca-Cola sleepless night, na this new Big Cola go come make them do rubbish? I doubt.

    • Sir B

      November 12, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      @Wale tbvh i’d have believed your theory. But as @Seye pointed out, search for the author of the article “Raheem Akingbolu” on google. You don’t need much convincing to know he is a cocacola paid journalist. That pretty much gave them away. Better luck convincing us this was not from cocacola 🙂

  13. Chioma

    November 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Tbh! This is a very poor response from cocacola. Pepsi had a classic response to Big cola. The #thingsIlongthroatfor is classic. Cocacola should have done better than this. The writer’s choice of word at the end (“…whether this is a David confronting Goliath or the case of a drunken man prodding a napping lion. “) is just all shades of petty. I want to convince myself that this is some overzealous writer that wants his payday. But then, it’s for the good of the consumer

  14. please

    November 12, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Mtchew…. Tried the big Cola.. Not even Coca-Cola’s competition

  15. ATL's finest

    November 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I DON’T drink Sodas. So e no concern me here. Jus passing by

  16. Laolu

    November 12, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    @Wale, Seye has given you a very simple task. Search for the author “Raheem Akingbolu coca cola” on google. Even Saint Thomas’ descendants can’t doubt this one that it is from coca cola. They should learn to clean their tracks next time. My 1 cent! In other news have you seen the #Thingsilongthroatfor? That’s a proper ethical way to respond to competition

    • akeem

      November 12, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      The way a market follower responds to new entry cannot b d same way a market leader will respond. #marketing 101

  17. Lollyp

    November 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I didn’t believe coca cola did this, its AJE’s work. I have tried the Big cola and can never be compared with coca cola. The difference is the volume dats all. If you believe in quality you will never do a repeat purchase of Big cola. It will always be Coca cola!

  18. bb

    November 12, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    MOre obesity. But its only a matter of time. Those working with coca cola start thinking other post retirement things to do

  19. Lol

    November 12, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    This work is clearly from AJE work and its point is to get people talking using unusual means of marketing. however copyright wise, I wonder if they are allowed to use a picture of coca-cola for sponsored content? this is not an op-ed piece. coca-cola can sue them befire they even launch.
    Having said that, it is cool that they have tried to enter the market with funny PR stunts. However, the most important thig they are missing here us ‘Are you actually reaching your target audience?’ coca colas target audience remains teenagers before young adults’

    Teenagers dont read epistles from Agbara, they dont debate the intricacises of big cola, they listen to music, they fall in love they do facebook and instagram 😀 Adults are beginning to reduce their Coke intake as well. More healthier options with so many sugar related ailments… even when they are lazy, they love to take brands they grew with -Coca cola.

    The fight for big cola isnt done with epistles, it is odne with social connections at its core.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      November 13, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I can hug you forever! You spoke everything I have in mind. The target audience for big cola is not young adults, it should be teenagers and children. Instead of writing a story that looks like an MBA thesis which will not engage 95% of Nigerian teenagers and children, they should have looked for something else that will engage them, like you said music, pictures and perfect visual advertorials. Akuko a erika biko.

  20. Shina

    November 12, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    It’s surprising many people keep thinking this was from big cola. This same article was featured on Thisday some weeks back in response to AJE’s launch. The author of the article Raheem Akingbolu is a paid coca cola writer. Commenting with pseudo names to paint big cola in bad light is doing more damage to the cocacola brand. C’mon, I am really disappointed in cocacola for sponsoring this sham of an article. The guys behind these article and pseudo names should cover their eyes in shame. You don’t need to go to Harvard for you to know this is a desperate struggle to damage the big cola brand. Accept defeat guys, you missed out on this one.

  21. tolani

    November 12, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    I don’t think so, this could have been sponsored by anyone, as u see its raheem’s article. Coca Cola is an established brand with an established market. If u read dis article it talks about coke n Pepsi.

  22. Jane

    November 12, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Big cola’s strategy has been wrong, every brand must be authentic with its authentic taste, read a story were they claim to taste like coke. This is a good article guys, not frontal but simply an advise to a new brand

  23. Anonymous

    November 12, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Please get a life people and lets stop trivializing facts. Leave people’s names.

  24. akeem

    November 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Nigerians, we should be patient to carefully read. With Coca-Cola being d market leader in d cola market, it is only expected people will use d logo. For me dis is a balanced article from dis Journalist with facts,

  25. Victoria

    November 12, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Truth be told, Coke is the real thing,bought big cola yesterday cuz I wanted to save some little change, mehhbhnn had dis after taste, ended up not finishing it

  26. Aston

    November 12, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    1. Nigerians are not poor people, they can afford to buy these soda’s heck they dont need to be rich to do that.

    2. Whether this article is from AJE or Coca-Cola for someone to publicize this article to such a level my frnds Big Cola is doing something right.

    3. On the contrary I think Coke is scared but I advices consumers that they have the purchasing power it doesn’t matter whether Coke has been in existence for 500 million years they started from somewhere.

    4. Personally I dont like the Big Cola cuz it tastes like cheap soda but what do I know.

    5. One thing I have noticed about Nigerians is that they love to try new products but can Big Cola sustain the tempo?

    6. Nice article but too one-sided. Coca-Cola seems scared but if you know your brand is unshakable why diss AJE?

    Im not on either side I’m all out for fair play. My the best soda win.

  27. Busolammy

    November 13, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Tried the big cola once, the taste it left in my mouth wasn’t nice at all, I couldn’t finish it too, give me Pepsi or coke anyday please.

  28. Jeho

    November 13, 2015 at 7:24 am

    This article is not a Diss to big cola, they really should take this advise in d article. Coca-Cola is d market leader, I prefer the d taste of Coca-Cola to big cola anytime. True though a market leader should never respond like a market follower, so don’t expect coke to go d way Pepsi went, it has its market. Hmmmmmmm need to go pick up my Philip kotler marketing 101.

  29. ele

    November 13, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Coke all d waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay

  30. xris

    November 13, 2015 at 8:16 am

    it does not need to be Coca cola’s competition but gradually, you will marvel at how our citizens will switch to the Big Cola…..i see that high demand from people out there. at least all my colleagues have switched to it cos they av extra to was down their food after consumption. sometimes i look at the bottle like “won’t you finish?”

  31. Prince

    November 13, 2015 at 9:20 am

    It’s amazing anyone will even think this article is from big cola. Here are some pointers below
    1. This article is sponsored.
    2. The article has a product image of cocacola. Only cocacola has the legal rights to use the image, big cola won’t risk a lawsuit by using their competitor’s image, neither will pepsi.
    3. This article was originally featured in Thisday some weeks back and all of a sudden rears its head on all the top blogs again.
    4. As one of the earlier posters mentioned, Raheem Akingbolu is a journalist on cocacola payroll.

    You don’t need any seer to tell you it’s a sponsored article by cocacola. The act of logical reasoning should not be so difficult afterall. Pepsi responded by introducing a 60cl bottle. Cocacola should respond with something more creative than this kind of demeaning article. Better still they should not have placed their product image on the post. The guys behind this need to be schooled properly on the proper way to do PR.

  32. Wale

    November 13, 2015 at 9:53 am

    This is just trivial. I doubt an established brand will do this. This is from an aspiring brand. Big Cola is gaining the Public Sympathy it wants and we are all falling for it. I don’t know why brands can’t enter market with originality. When Fanta Apple entered market, it didnt say nothing about Lacasera. This Big Cola should be more original in their approach abeg

  33. Chika

    November 13, 2015 at 10:00 am

    I know Coca-Cola is a Multi-national organisation with class, and they will never sponsor nor write ill articles on another brand that wants to be COCA-COLA, so while some of y’all are hating, I’m sticking with my bottle of Coca-Cola, forever and always.

  34. Mike

    November 13, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Big Cola came to Nigeria and claim they are the “NEW COCA-COLA”. 1. That’s wrong for a brand. 2. They are trying to associate themselves with CocaCola because they know that CocaCola has the market. 3. They got the strategy wrong. I have read this article in many blogs and it was written by Raheem a journalist from Thisday. I do not think a brand with high repute like CocaCola will associate themselves with the new cheap cola.

    I am sure everyone commenting here has been drinking CocaCola since childhood and we all love it. Please can we stop casting aspersions at a brand that has been there for everyone since they came into Nigeria? They brought SHARE A COKE and other brilliant campaigns to connect with everyone.

    Sponsoring this article and claiming its from cocacola is a wrong move for these AJE guys.

  35. maryann

    November 13, 2015 at 10:04 am

    this article definitely cant be coke. those guys are just too busy coming up with strategies to sustain d emotional connection they have with their market. i think coke studio is a great initiative, mash up thingy, really exciting

  36. ani

    November 13, 2015 at 10:32 am

    mschewww cant even be bothered about this big cola guys, december is around the corner and we all know coke and pepsi always have something exciting they bring every xmas, d massive xmas tree and rythm unplugged, n dis big cola guys b putting up several stories. biko, whats ur initiative for dis xmas

  37. Shola Shodadeleke

    November 13, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Whatever the case is o! I love coke and I’m staying true to my brand! Case closed.

  38. Sayo

    November 13, 2015 at 10:45 am

    This is what happens when PR goes bad. You’d see keyboard warriors spiting an innocent brand just to save face. Admit it, cocacola lost this one. Big cola has just been given free publicity on a great platform like Bella Naija. Now even more people will now know about big cola. hehehe!

  39. tosin

    November 13, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Am in love with my cocoke. its coke jare, classic taste

  40. rolake

    November 13, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Nigerians like new things and get over it quickly then go back to d original stuff, coke guys are big time, its dis big cola people dat have been doing so much talking, not nice jor

  41. tola

    November 13, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    N i declare in dis new administration dat Nigerians will be hungry for quality and not quantiy, we 1st class people abeg

  42. Helen

    November 13, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Same article on Bella on Linda too with Cocacola’s product image. Even the blind can see that this is cocacola. Why bully a new entrant to the market. Pepsi’s #ThingsILongThroat for was absolutely brilliant. I think we all should be happy with big cola for disrupting the market. Now consumers have more and even the sellers are making more money. Heard they make 20% on big cola and barely 5% on cocacola. Haba! No amount of faceless warriors on here spamming with negative reviews can alter the positive perception about big cola. Big Cola is here to STAY!

    • cha

      November 14, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Nice comment. U just said the right thing

  43. 'lade

    November 13, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    big cola o, small cola oh. Coca cola is still my fave.

  44. Hugo

    November 13, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Judging by the comments on here. It is so easy to decipher that those on the big cola side are presenting more intellectual and well thought out arguments while those on the cocacola side are not so much on the bright side. It’s easy to pick out the random trolls!

  45. Gabriel

    November 13, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Hugo reading through d comments urs is d least brightest, not well thought out and obvious u didn’t read d article

  46. Gabriel

    November 13, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Sure maybe coca cola needs to come up with a different pricing strategy but it’s not about more quantity of liquid dat has an after taste

  47. toyin

    November 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Hugo do u work for big cola cuz people here r only commenting based on experience n perception n u talking about sides or bright comments, u should b spanked. Go lecture in a school. Bright teacher

  48. abdul

    November 14, 2015 at 9:09 am

    it’s nice everybody is talking big about big cola and actually its a nice big brand having lots of big moment in Nigeria market.
    To all, have a nice BIG DAY.

  49. Dee

    November 14, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Who else thinks Gabriel and Toyin are the same person disguising under different names. It is so easy to pick you guys out. At least leave some time in between your comments. It will appear even more real.

  50. jane

    November 14, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    People won’t kill someone, lmao so deep has turned to monitoring spirit. Coke is a good brand and Big Cola is upcoming, let dem just focus on improving several areas

  51. Yakubu Ismaila

    August 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    A free market economy always encourages unlimited number of competitors. Many competitors in the market benefit the economy by providing employment and integration, they benefit consumers by providing choice and variety in products, standards and prices, they also benefit the government because more taxes are paid.
    Coca-cola has in the past exploited a number of negative factors bedevilling Nigeria such as the prolonged years of military dictatorship, the absence of competition laws, the hand-in-glove relationship between capitalists and politicians to bully and frustrate new entrepreneurs who dare to venture into the carbonated water industry. In the past soft drink brands such as Senacola, Limca and Goldspot were either swallowed-up or obliterated by the giant.
    In the USA companies such as The Standard Oil Company and Microsoft Inc were severely penalized for engaging in anti- competition activities but this is not the case in Nigeria. Corruption and backwardness have not allowed our legislature to come up with the needed advanced legislation. Unless Competition laws are put in place, the Coca-cola will once again by utilizing tactics which it dare not use in the US, pull out all stops to bully Big Cola and enforce its monopolistic dominance on the Nigerian soft-drink market. This unfortunately deprives consumers of enjoying the experience of choice in variety and prices which consumers in most advanced countries take for granted and disastrously limit economic growth.
    As for me it is always a nice feeling to try new products so I will continue to patronize Biggie Cola for as long as the powers that be allow it to be on the shelves.

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