Kenyan brands should tap mascots to increase sales


A football fan poses with the Russia 2018 World Cup mascot Zabivaka. AFP PHOTO

Kenyan brands can increase consumer interest and sales by differentiating their products in the market using brand mascots, research shows.

Brand mascots are the face of a product, they are also the first interaction that consumers have with a product on the shelf. In this, Captain Morgan, a brand of rum produced by alcohol company Diageo (locally by Kenya Breweries Limited), relies on its pirate mascot to drive its marketing strategy and build identity in all its international markets.

Its launch in the Kenyan market last December was attended by Captain Morgan, the Global Ambassador, who has been the face of the drink for 20 years and based in the US.

The pirate mascot visited Kenya for a whole week; he made media appearances and partied in several nightclubs including Club Legend in Ongata Rongai; training salespeople on how to position the brand for consumers and increase identity. This has been the core marketing strategy of the brand.

“Captain Morgan is all about fun; encouraging consumers to interact with friends and the brand. We literally bring the brand to life in that consumers get to meet Captain Morgan.

“The availability of the products and their accessibility in the Kenyan market has further increased the popularity of the brand in the market since its launch seven months ago,” said Nik Keane, Global Brand Director, Captain Morgan.

The rum’s brand mascot is however not limited to club appearances in its global marketing strategy in order to interact with consumers. In the US, the pirate attends music festivals and in 2004, even ran for president.

With the slogan, “Americans for a Better Party,” the brand’s mascot engaged in a three-day campaign that involved interacting with consumers aged 21 years and above. This resulted in a 13.7 per cent increase in its sale volumes that year in the US.

“Our work is to make him more successful and famous as an international icon of fun. We are very consistent and demanding in holding the same international standards in terms of our marketing: What does the Captain look like, what he wears, all this is consistent globally,” said Mr Keane

This marketing strategy, according to research, helps the target market to identify, remember, understand and enhance consumers’ positive attitudes towards a brand, hence when faced with similar options at the point of sale they will choose the product with a memorable mascot.

“In a 2016 study conducted in Thailand on the impact of brand mascots on consumers’ purchasing behaviour, published in the International Journal of Economics and Management Engineering, it found that brand mascots lead consumers to identify with the product.

They influence them to become loyal customers and share the identity with the brand. The researchers surveyed 400 participants in Bangkok metropolitan using questionnaires. They were asked to fill in their demographic data and reply to a set of two questions about brand mascots and how they influence their purchase behaviours.

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In the first measure the participants noted their consumers’ decision-making on buying a product after they were reminded by the images of brand mascots, and in the second one they were to indicated their intention to buy a product after they were reminded by images of brand mascots.

“What we found in the first measure is that participants could be motivated by brand mascots to make purchase decisions, while in the second one we noted that the mascot has a great influence on buying behaviour.

“The goal of a brand mascot is to strengthen the identity of the product as it might not have much difference to its competitors. Using brand mascots can make the product outstanding from other similar products,” reported the researchers.