Coca-Cola turns to solar energy to increase sales

One Degree Solar founder Gaurav Manchanda(left), Coca-Cola Kiosk owner Jemimah Njoki (centre) and Nairobi Bottlers limited managing director Patrick Pech during the Coca-Cola launch of solar initiative to empower small businesses, April 17, 2013. SALATON NJAU

Coca-Cola has turned to solar energy to consolidate its market share and boost sales through provision of subsidised solar kits to soda kiosks in order to extend their operating hours.

Speaking Wednesday during the launch of a partnership with energy solutions provider, One Degree Solar, Managing Director Nairobi Bottlers Patrick Pech said the project will go a long way in helping retailers and kiosk owners extend their operating hours, reduce operating costs and enable them record higher sales.

“We are certain the project will yield increased sales not only for Coca-Cola but for traders as well,” Mr Pech said.

The solar project began last year with 100 kiosks around Nairobi benefitting from free BrightBox solar kits given out by Coca-cola in the pilot phase.

According to the company, retail stores such as kiosks make 60 per cent of their business partners and thus the need to focus on the market segment.

The beverage giant said results of research conducted by Nielsen showed that the use of BrightBox kits increased operating times for business by four hours per day. This translated to a Sh2,736 raise in sales or 15 per cent per week.

The BrightBox, the first of its kind in Africa, comes with a solar panel, two LED bulbs, 10 charging kits for different phones and a radio. The battery can last up to 10 hours depending on the use and retails at Sh7, 000.

“We have already sold 4, 000 units in Nairobi, Kisumu and Western Kenya and are currently venturing to Coast and Mt. kenya region,” said founder of One Degree Solar, Gaurav Manchanda,.

The move by Coca-Cola comes in the wake of increased competition with rival PepsiCo that has threatened to eat into Coca-Cola’s market share.

Market share competition is set to intensify further when SABMiller effects its plans to establish a manufacturing plant in the country.

Just recently Coca-Cola indicated plans to cut the price of its 300ml bottle in a move that could be seen as an attempt to match the price of its flagship 300ml with that offered by PepsiCo for a 350ml bottle.

The company said it was eyeing the Uganda and Tanzania markets in order to expand its footprint in the regional market.

The market share showdown is happening even as Kenya reported a drop in consumer demand in the last four years, forcing manufacturers to cut back on production.

Coca-Cola had earlier attributed the drop in demand to the recent shift of demand to fresh fruit juices and high inflation that reduced disposable incomes.

The latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) report shows production of soft drinks dropped by 46 per cent to 472,005 tons last year.

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