TBY talks to two executives on new product lines, exports to Russia, catering to customer needs, and expectations for 2012.
How has Carlsberg’s business evolved in Kazakhstan?
TUNCAY TEKDEMİR Our company entered the Kazakhstani market in 1998 under the Ak-Nar label. In that same year, we introduced a new brand, Irbis, to the market. In 1999, the DERBES brand was developed. Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH), an international brewery owned by Carlsberg, and the UK brewer Scottish & Newcastle, acquired a stake of Ak-Nar Brewery, and merged the two businesses in 2003. Ak-Nar was renamed DERBES in December 2006. Carlsberg Group has since acquired the Scottish & Newcastle shares, becoming the beneficial owner of BBH assets in Russia, the CIS, and the Baltic States. As a result, DERBES joined the Carlsberg Group in April 2008. DERBES was officially renamed to Carlsberg Kazakhstan in December 2010.
Has it provided new export opportunities?
TURSEN ALAGUZOV On the one hand, the Customs Union complicated the situation, as Russian producers forced their expansion into the Kazakhstani market, thus putting our producers in a difficult situation. However, on the other hand the Customs Union simplified the process of launching Kazakhstani products on the Russian market and made Kazakhstani products more attractive. Of course, there is a definite need for support at the governmental level, because the abilities of Russian companies are greater than our own. This is not because Russian companies are more advanced, but simply because the Russian market is larger and the capitalization and financial capacity of Russian companies is higher than that of Kazakhstani companies. It is easier for Russian companies to invest in Kazakhstan and conquer significant market shares. The Customs Union has heavily impacted the food industry. However, it is difficult to determine if this influence is positive or negative. For our company, the customs duties on raw materials imported from outside the Customs Union have increased. However, import prices have fallen, and this has made an extremely positive impact on Kazakhstan’s heavily regulated sugar market and led to a significant reduction in prices of around 25%. In addition, we are observing that Kazakhstani producers have become more active.
What are Carlsberg Kazakhstan’s main marketing tools?
TT Alcohol advertising is not allowed in Kazakhstan; however, we are allowed to advertise non-alcoholic beer. For that we use traditional channels—mostly TV and outdoor advertising. At the same time, more focus has been placed on point-of-sale advertising. We want to illustrate the uniqueness of our product and try to introduce something new to the market. Local consumers are receptive to product appearance in terms of bottle designs and labels. Innovation and regular changes in positioning are also important, but first we have to attract the consumer. Another important aspect is the taste. As everyone has different tastes, we have to have enough variety to provide exactly what the consumer needs. Kazakhstan consumers prefer classic lager; dark beer types, such as porters or ales are not popular here. This is different from Europe, where different sorts of beer are consumed with various foods; we haven’t arrived at that point in the Kazakhstani market. Here, the association between beer and food is not that obvious, but hopefully we can expand these marketing tools in the future.
Galanz has a 40% market share. Where do you see the toughest competition?
TA Competition in the beverages market is colossal, as in every FMCG segment, whether a company is producing juice or carbonated drinks. Every manufacturer is trying to maximize its presence by investing huge amounts in advertising and promotion. However, everyone is competing in a fairly limited market. Markets in other countries are radically different in terms of product grouping, and Kazakhstani manufacturers are looking for new segments and market niches that haven’t been established yet. Laimon Fresh is a good example. It is a soft drink composed entirely of natural ingredients with a unique taste. It has exploded on the market in Russia, and is also rapidly gaining customers in Kazakhstan.
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