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Advertising lifts Soko maize flour to market leader

An attendant arranges packets of maize flour at a supermarket. Soko Maize meal, a fairly new brand in the market, has been ranked a leading brand in the maize flour category. Photo/FILE
An attendant arranges packets of maize flour at a supermarket. Soko Maize meal, a fairly new brand in the market, has been ranked a leading brand in the maize flour category. Photo/FILE 

Soko Maize meal, a fairly new brand in the market, has been ranked a leading brand in the maize flour category in a research on retail goods conducted by Consumer Insight.

The sifted maize brand toppled Jogoo, an old product, to rank top with a market share of 24 per cent against Jogoo’s 21 per cent, Pembe’s 11 per cent and Hostess at eight per cent. The rest of the brands hardly make it to 10 per cent.

The report attributes Soko’s success to its media advertisement and promotion.

Last year, the brand, which had traded for some time in the market, embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign.

“The new entrants have clearly demonstrated how targeted advertising resonates and wins market share,” said the Reja report.

The consumer study was conducted last year in November by Consumer Insight which tracks shopper’s trends in Kenya.

Advertising has turned out to be the biggest weapon for companies wishing to win the race for consumers in a competitive market.

According to Ipsos Synovate, advertising spend last year stood at Sh40 billion up from Sh28 billion in 2011.

The rise was attributed to large manufacturers increasing their expenditure. Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and Coca-Cola are some of the companies that adjusted their advertising budget upwards.

The three firms accounted for 53.3 per cent of the Sh7.7 billion gross ad spend in the first half of 2012.

However, the report gives hope for Jogoo saying that with renewed advertising vigour, the brand may as well rise to dominance.

“If Jogoo chooses to defend its share, the market will turn into a two horse race,” reads the report. “The rest of the field will then position themselves around Jogoo’s ‘heritage’ appeal or Soko’s ‘newness’ position.”

“Of all other brands, none passes the 10 per cent level,” said Reja.

If Jogoo is to take up the challenge, the race in this segment is also bound to get closer.

Maize production last year was 38 million bags, against a national consumption level of 40 million per year.

Since most of maize also comes from Tanzania and Uganda, it means local millers did not incur foreign exchange losses like happened in 2011.

Similarly, the bumper harvest recorded in most parts of the country through last year also kept the maize prices down in the local market and so they also bought cheaply. The low price translated to a low cost of a pack of flour.

Milling industry in Kenya is dominated by seven players among them Unga Group and Mombasa Millers.

esituma@ke.nationmedia.com

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