The South African competitive scene is unique in that the main challenge comes not from new players launching new brands, but from a former partner offering well-established premium brands that SAB itself helped to build over the decades.
SAB's response is to concentrate on building the equity of selected brands and getting its products efficiently to market. While its relatively new international premium brands attack the top end of the market, SAB is packing most of its resource behind four 'power brands' – Castle Lite in the local premium segment and Hansa Pilsener, Castle Lager and Carling Black Label in the large, cash-generating mainstream segment. In parallel, it's seeking to offer superior value and service to retailers (including tens of thousands of previously unlicensed 'shebeens' that have now entered the formal sector as licensed taverns) and to make the most meaningful contribution to society.
The strategy calls for greater investment in market-facing, brand-related activities – everything that touches consumers, retailers, government and the community. To this end, SAB is squeezing all possible efficiencies from non-market-facing operations such as production, supply chain and administration and channelling the savings into its brands, marketing and distribution. The aim is to achieve a virtuous circle whereby greater scale in the marketplace presents opportunities for higher efficiency which creates more funding for marketing and sales, which drives demand, which generates further scale efficiencies.
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