Brands & Promos

Peak Milk needless war with Hollandia Milk


The day Apple engages in a marketing campaign to directly fight TECNO is the day it announces its loss of the premium segment of the mobile phone market.

Should a McDonald’s or Starbucks ever open in Nigeria and engage in war of comparison with a brand as big as Tastee Fried Chicken of Tantalizers, I am certain people will wonder if the international pedigree of these brands are worth the high perception it has accumulated over the years.

You will not pretend to not be aware of the threat they pose to your own growth and dominance. That will be marketing foolhardiness. Nevertheless, taking them on directly just will not send the right signals however strong and relevant your message is. It can be done in other ways without presenting yourself as being in a boxing ring with them.

But this is happening to Peak Evaporated Milk as it battles Hollandia Milk, marketed by CHI Limited.

The fear of the guys at CHI may be great in marketing wisdom but it will not be too wise to take them on as directly as Peak Milk has done.

CHI is one company that has built a reputation for producing the ugliest TVCs for its endless stream of brands but has been able to establish most of them as top earners. Is it that the market prefers the cheap, ugly commercials to the very expensive, bespoke ads created by many others?

I am not sure that is correct. There must be some things CHI is doing below the line that ensures their products are in the market and are purchased by customers. I am actually one of those that believe that the day CHI gets its ads right, its cost of marketing would be cheaper and its dominance would be even more “dominant.”

But that is beside the point. You see, Peak Milk is an old warhorse in the milk segment of the food and beverage industry. It has been in the Nigerian market for 60 years. Back in the days, competition was sparse until the coming of Cowbell milk from the stable of Promasidor Nigeria Ltd.

Cowbell was introduced into the market during an austere season such as (if not worse) than the one Nigeria is going through at the moment. AT the time, Peak was doing only producing only in tins for its liquid and powdered lines.

But Cowbell saw the gap and began packaging its powdered milk in sachets that went for N5 and N10 at the time.

It made sense.

The poor, who could no longer have milk in their diet, trooped in and made Cowbell their favourite. Peak held on for very long; too long, losing market share in the process. When it responded by producing its own sachets, it did it very quietly without dragging their great brand into a direct war of attrition with their archrival.

It took time and, of course, money, but Peak reasonably recovered and gained significant points from Cowbell. But it was also happening at a time competition was getting crazy in this segment. Many other people joined the milk business and innovating around how to best competition.

From powdered milk, the newcomers began to put liquid milk in smaller sachets, still targeting the low end of the market. Tetrapak and others in the packaging business have made sachets better and safer. It was also cheaper to store products in these new packaging forms than in tins.

And so Peak Milk and others moved in. Problem was ubiquitous CHI was also there with its Hollandia Milk, a brand that was hitherto a yoghurt brand name but which they cleverly extended to evaporated milk.

In order to challenge Peak, Hollandia added bigger volumes of milk in their sachets than Peak. AT the low end, volume most times sits atop value in the scales of preference. And this is what Peak will not wish to go through again.

So it went to the market, hired comedians Ayo Makun (AY), Oluwaseyitan Lawrence Aletile (Seyi Law) and a few others for a television commercial designed to emphasise the difference in quality between it and what obviously was Hollandia Milk.

In fairness, AY and Seyi Law and the rest of the “motor mechanics” in the ad did a fantastic job of interpreting the message.

It is clear from the ad that Hollandia is projected as envious of Peak Milk’s pedigree. You get this message when the other mechanic moves to AY protesting against his getting all the jobs and wondering if it was because he is the oldest mechanic in the workshop.

A shouting match began with AY claiming his name is “WAZOBIA” while the other pretender to the milk throne says he is “WAZO.” Seyi Law separates but makes clear that the others must respect the 60-year experience of AY. The refusal of the other guy necessitates an arm wrestling match that is predictably won by AY who reps Peak Milk.

Even at the level of scripting, Peak Milk should have realized there was no need for a direct fight. Admitting it has been in the market for 60 years and allowing itself to an “arm wrestling” match with a newcomer in the market is throwing all the experience, pedigree, honour and respect of three decades to the wind.

Did Peak need “motor mechanics” to send its message that it was the brand for all Nigerians depicted in the “WAZOBIA” alias for AY after which the value pack is also named?

I am not very sure of this.

Peak Milk is a premium milk brand. It is for the premium segment. Even when market exigencies require a recalibration of target market, I believe there are better ways of doing it without coming down to their level. What of placing the price-point where these guys can afford and still packaging the brand as one they aspire to?

Creating message such as this will not give the consumers the chance to make their own comparisons. In trying to send the message that while Hollandia represented quantity, Peak was for quality, Peak inadvertently has directly pitched competition against their brand and offering the market options.

And if you ask me, this segment where those in it drink “garri” for a living; prefer their Agege Bread to any other bread; would frequently eat the queer combo of rice, yam and spaghetti with a dash of stew and a tiny piece of meat (because for them it’s all about a filled stomach and not a nourished body); will not miss what Hollandia was couched to represent in the campaign.

It’s familiar territory for them.

If in doubt, go ask Coca-Cola and Pepsi how the new brand called “Big Cola” is dealing with them in this same segment.

Source: Brandish

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