Zambia 2017 | INDUSTRY | COLUMN

Yonnus Suleman, Managing Director, Californian Beverages, on the sector.

Yonnus Suleman

What products do you currently offer the Zambian market?

Similar to the Coca-Cola franchise, we offer carbonated drinks, although our products differ from the mainstream soft drinks in that they are not the typical synthetic beverage. Instead, we created our own market niche, opting for a healthier drink made from fruit juice and carbonated water. There were two ways to compete with the soft drink giants: sell a similar product at a lower cost or create a niche product and a brand that emphasizes quality. The latter was the motivation behind our business strategy.

In what other ways do you retain an edge over the competition?

When we started, we saw many product gaps in the distribution side at Coca-Cola, which led us to the conclusion that we would do well to create our own distribution channels. The distribution strategy of Coca-Cola is based on agents: it expects people to come and seek out its products. Californian Beverages, on the other hand, takes its products to the doorsteps of individuals, allowing us to reach out the entire whole population, including people living in rural areas.