What Happened To Bournvita?

Once a market leader in the cocoa food drink segment of the Nigerian Confectionery Industry, Bournvita, the flagship brand of Cadbury Nigeria Plc isn’t quite the pacesetter it used to be.

Bournvita’s loss of grip on the handle of market leadership has been attributed to varying factors depending on who’s keeping a tab on developments.

A school of thought opines that the chocolate malt drink has re-branded one too many times, and as such has lost its consumers along the way as they struggle to grapple with its seemingly ever evolving identity.

Others believe that Bournvita’s dwindling fortunes in the Nigerian market is simply down to stiffer competition from longtime rivals Nestle Milo, and more recent rivals, Ovaltine and Cowbell Choco.

While yet another school of thought has put Bournvita’s less than stellar run in the market down to its management issues in the last eight years, the introduction of some failed products and the forgettable impact Kraft International has had on the development of the Bournvita brand since it acquired Cadbury in 2012.

With the giant beverage company posting a net loss of N563 million in 2016, it’s safe to say that these are not the best of times for the brand.

In the light of the current economic situation of the country, the average Nigerian is more concerned about getting value for money in terms of greater quantity rather than quality which the managers of Bournvita brand have been more keen to project.

Also, Bournvita’s constant repackaging in the last couple of years, especially with the introduction of the inflatable jar hasn’t quite hit the mark in terms of translating to profit and a larger market share.

However, it’s baffling how Milo has maintained market leadership of the chocolate beverage industry in recent years despite it being considerably more expensive than Bournvita, thereby nullifying the argument of proponents of the “Nigerians now desire a cheaper alternative in their cocoa food drink.”

What may be responsible for this development instead is likely to be Nestle’s consistency with the Milo Brand. Unlike Bournvita which appears to be on the search to finding its true identity with the many slogans it has adopted at different times and its tampering with its traditional dark blue colour to what is now coffee brown. While, Milo, its fiercest competition has largely stuck with its central theme of being the “Energy Drink of Future Champions” and has consistently maintained its sponsorship of high school level Basketball games. A pointer to a brand that is firm in the recognition of its identity and essence.

While factors such as difficulties in obtaining foreign exchange to purchase raw materials and a weakened economy certainly play a significant role in the change of fortune of Bournvita, the onus is on the managers of the “veteran” brand to device new ways to steady the rocking boat of the beverage and more importantly, stick with a method that is proven to work and not try to reinvent the wheel unnecessarily.