Budweiser, one of the world’s biggest selling beers, is set to make an entry into the Kenyan market next week stepping up competition for local alcohol consumers’ wallets.
The Kenyan beer market is already served by the biggest local brewer EABL, Keroche Breweries, South Africa’s SABMiller and a host of other imported brands.
Viva Global will be the official importers and distributers of the American beer, which will be targeting young middle class consumers aged between 21 and 45.
“Lots of Kenyans come across it in the US and Dubai. It is a brand in huge demand,” said Meera Karia, the business development manager for Viva.
The competition for premium beer drinkers has intensified in tandem with growing consumption power.
Yet another international beer brand, Carlsberg, made its debut in the Kenyan beer market last month. The Danish brand is being distributed by the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company Centum Investment.
Viva have been running a trial in the market for the past 24 months to test Budweiser’s reception by consumers, in readiness for the launch on Wednesday.
The 355ml glass bottle beer will be retailing at Sh170, with 500ml and 330ml cans expected to hit the market soon.
“Our entry strategy is to focus on top bars, clubs and various restaurants and hotels in Nairobi,” said Ms Karia.
Viva is also the importers of Skyy Vodka, Dewars Whiskey and Corona as well as Voss premium water and Effect energy drink among others.
Other local competitors for alcohol consumers’ cash include Wines of the World, London Distillers, Nairobi Vintners, United Distillers and Vintners (UDV) and Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (Kwal).
EABL’s premium beers include Tusker Lite, Windhoek, Pilsner Ice and White Cup Lite while Tusker, Guinness and Pilsner are viewed as the mainstream brands.
Other competing premium brands in the market include Miller Genuine Draft brands by rival SAB Miller, Heineken distributed by Maxim, the Sierra suite of beers by Ozbecco.
Dutch-based Heineken established a regional office in Nairobi in late 2011 to tap the Kenyan market better.
Local brewer Keroche sought to increase its market share in 2013 by re-launching its Summit Malt brand.
Viva Global, which operates in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, is part of the family-owned AMS Group of companies. It was started by Rupen Samani as Viva Product Line Ltd before it expanded into the region and was rebranded to its current name.
The AMS Group has stakes in real estate, infrastructure, hospitality and beverage distribution among others through its subsidiaries which also include AMS Properties, Lanor and AMS Infrastructure.
The maker of Budweiser, AB Inbev, is among the world’s largest beer brewers formed after merger between American and Belgian brewers.
Other beers made by the company include Corona and Stella Artois.
In a survey recently released this week by financial consulting firm PwC, Nairobi is the top spender on entertainment and media with a projected increase of 12.5 per cent by 2018.
This is the highest growth in the cities surveyed which included Johannesburg Beijing and Mumbai.
The report attributes this to the rapidly expanding urban middle class.
“Nairobian middle class seeks to catch up on services that developed urbanites take for granted,” says the report.
Last year, a data vendor that tracks emerging economies, Frontier Strategy Group, ranked Kenya as the second most preferred destination in Africa for multinationals seeking to open shop.
This has seen the entry of international brands into the country including Mac Cosmetics, and Japanese fast-food restaurant Teriyaki.
Multinational corporations in technology, consumer goods, and industrial and financial services sectors have been opening regional and continental headquarters in Nairobi in recent years.
Google, Visa, MasterCard, KFC, Pepsi, Travelport and Dow Chemicals are multinational corporations that have chosen the capital city as either their regional or Africa headquarters.