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AfricaMoney | October 16, 2017

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Marketing ExpertSpeak: Tech to join hands with marketing for greater client participation

Marketing ExpertSpeak: Tech to join hands with marketing for greater client participation

Patrice Sheik Bajeet, Senior Marketing Manager at Phoenix Beverages Ltd, spoke to AfricaMoney on the marketing strategy adopted by PBL. The strategy blends marketing and technological innovation and was welcomed by customers, making the campaign successful. Bringing a personal touch to beverages is a first in Mauritius and more surprises are in store to change the beverages landscape in the coming years.(Image:Wazna Gunga)

Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview:

Phoenix Beverages Ltd has been investing and innovating in marketing. How much has it impacted turnover and profits?

2015 has been a good year till now and has been much better than 2014 so far. While we cannot link a marketing activity directly to profitability, 2015 has definitely been a good year for PBL. We have had innovations since the beginning of the year, starting with Appletiser where, as a first in Mauritius, we have introduced Virtual Reality on the bottles. Using the packaging and the product to interact with customers brought a fresh breath of life to the Mauritius beverages market. Secondly, the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign has boosted marketing of beverages on a completely customised level, which is again a first in Mauritius. This level of personalisation of the product has pushed marketing to an ultimate threshold. To reach this level of customised marketing, a lot of investment was required and many technical challenges had to be overcome. The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was launched earlier in several countries, but, in Mauritius, the contest was launched later because of commercial, technical and operational challenges. The Mauritian market likes innovation and is also quick to embrace all things digital. In addition, Mauritians welcome marketing initiatives when they lie at heart of the product and are enthusiastic in their participation. The results show that the sales of Appletiser and Coca Cola have hit double-digits. The Appletiser Virtual App was launched in 10 countries and Mauritius followed South Africa in terms of the app’s success rate with customers, leaving even the USA behind. Innovation and dynamism are key for PBL to differentiate itself on the market.

Is you market share in the beverages segment in Mauritius currently in line with your target, or above/below target?

It is not a secret that PBL is a leader in beverages market in Mauritius and we have assumed leadership in the segment. However, we do not settle for status quo, but strive for betterment. The first way up is to attend to clients in a better way and be leaders in the hearts of people. Thus, not as leaders in market share alone, but people must also have a special place in their hearts for PBL — because of our quality of products, our innovation and our response to market requirements. We constantly bring new things to a market that people believe to be stagnant, and there are more things to come in the future. These two campaigns — Appletiser Virtual App and ‘Share a Coke’ — set the tone for what will happen in this market in the future.

How has the Virtual Reality App on the Appletiser drink been been received? Is it a hit with the public?

As said before, it was a great success in terms of turnover, which was well over target for a brand for which much was not done before. The sudden boost that it received was made possible by  the evolution of technology and we were surprised by our success in this segment, surpassing South Africa which is the regional headquarters for Appletiser. Mauritius has set an example worldwide on how to run this campaign.

What about the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign? While it has been successful in other countries, what are your expectations from the Mauritian market?

Share a Coke’ was first launched in Australia and was so successfully that Coca Cola decided to launch it globally. We are the first in the Indian Ocean to implement it as it requires advanced techniques. In Mauritius, since launch, the performance of this campaign has far exceeded our expectation. The reaction was amazing, be it on the internet, traditional media or social networks. People love to have their favourite beverage with their name written on it. We receive phone calls daily from customers on how to get their names on the bottle. For Mauritius, it was really a challenge to launch this campaign, given the fact that we are a multi-ethic country where the range of names is really vast. However, we faced the technical constraint of choosing 300 names as a maximum permissible limit, and now we do activation exercises weekly around the island to customise the names.

How important is technology in helping the company to innovate in terms of marketing?

I think that today we cannot imagine communicating with a Mauritian customer without taking into consideration that everyone has access to internet and mobile. To enter into the customer’s world, we have no other choice than to connect with them. I myself am passionate about technology, thus a ideal mix for me is to connect technology with other sectors. Technology  that enables us to print different names on stickers is certainly advanced technology. It helps us get closer to the customer as well as communicate in their language. Accordingly, digital marketing is increasingly taking a new path in Mauritius. What is the aim of PBL vis-à-vis its stakeholders in Mauritius? Our main aim remains to serve Mauritius with quality beverages while retaining the Mauritian touch. We are proud to be a successful Mauritian company and we want to retain our pride in what we are doing locally and globally.

What additional strategies are you going to bring into the market for PBL to stand out against competition?

We have only given a slight glimpse of it, but from now on, technology will be a more integral part of our game. There is also a big focus on the customer and to understand his requirements better. We must develop products as per customer requirements and utilise innovative tools to enter the customer’s world. Altogether, we must bring in a more personalised marketing approach to be closer to our clients and partners. There are more surprises to come, and it will be interesting to see how we are going to change the beverages landscape in the coming years.

Finally, is there anything in particular you wish to highlight about PBL and its evolution over the years?

I think that the vision that we have for PBL, which has been in existence for the past 50 years, is to take the company forward into a new era. A big change is taking place in the vision for local and international beverages markets. Moreover, a significant innovation is taking place in terms of putting the customer at the centre of everything we do. This is a big social responsibility where we get to contribute towards the growth of the country as a whole as well as the consumers’ individual growth.

-By Wazna Gunga

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