Why we Launched Amber Energy Drink, says Lola Adedeji, General Manager, Amber Energy Drink Ltd

Despite the general lull occasioned by the recent lockdowns on the national economy because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nigerian market remains resilient, vibrant and dynamic with multiplicity of brands and products jostling for consumersattention.

Reviewing the post-lockdown market situation vis-à-vis the Nigeria economy, the General Manager of Amber Energy Drinks Ltd, Ms. Lola Adedeji whose company recently launched Amber Energy Drink into the market at an interactive chat with a select group of newsmen in Lagos said the Nigeria economy offers great hope for prospective investors.

Specifically, she said the energy drinks market where she is a major player offers far greater opportunities and potentials for growth. She also enjoined the Federal Government of Nigeria to encourage small and medium scales entrepreneurs by granting them tax rebates while providing an environment that is conducive for business enterprises.

She spoke brilliantly on other issues of national economic importance as well

Excerpts:  Amber is now playing in Nigerias energy drinks market; how do you assess the market?

The Nigerian energy drinks market, is, no doubt, a very big market; it is one that can accommodate anyone and everyone. Nigerias energy drink sector is a lucrative industry with market research fore-casting a yearly consumption growth of over 6.5% by 2022. This is slightly an increase in the 5% annual growth experienced between 2014 and 2016, which made the average consumption to be about 25.5 liters according to the World Health Organization (WHO) report January this year. The questions would then be who are you targeting and what are you delivering? So, it is the best market and I think that if you understand who you are targeting, where you are going, you will play perfectly well in it.

So, who are you targeting and where are you going with Amber brand?

We are targeting the man; woman or girl who understands quality; who understands what it means to have a healthy lifestyle.

The market is very competitive; are you ready to play and, if yes, how ready are you?

We are ready to play ball. For us, we have done everything possible; we have even gone the extra mile to which many other companies cannot go to prepare ourselves. We have taken our time to study not just the market but also who our consumers are, and we have decided that every step of the way, Amber will meet the needs of that consumer anyway we can. So, if you say it is competitive, yes it is. To ask if we are ready to play ball, yes we are. So, as we unveil, as time goes on you will see the wonders of Amber.

The market is not there just for the taking; there would be challenges. What do you perceive as challenges and what strategies would Amber deploy to surmount these challenges?

One of the biggest challenges in the Nigerian market is that quality is not what a lot of Nigerians understand. For instance, for an energy drink, the first question they ask is “Is it cold? How much is it? Is it sweet? Is it bitter? These are their four main questions. On our part, we have taken our time to come up with the Amber brand. Besides answering all those questions it also nourishes the body. The challenge is communicating to the average Nigerian why this is the best option for him/her. That is what we have taken out time to study and find ways to get to them easily. Once they have it or they come in contact with the brand, every step of the way they are being informed about the good things about the brand and why they should take Amber as their preferred brand. It will take time; but we will get there.

What are the unique selling points of Amber?

Just for the lay man; lets assume that you like coffee and you can have three cups of coffee and feel like you have had enough of it. But with Amber energy drink, you will have three Cans of it, and he total caffeine intake is equivalent to that of one strong cup of coffee. However, with one Can of Amber you are energized!

We played with the caffeine level; we introduced Guarana which is natural caffeine. It will boost you naturally without being detrimental to your heart or to your liver, but it will give you the boost that artificial caffeine will give.

Mind you, I am not saying that there is no artificial caffeine in it at all; but the quantity is reduced. We also packed it full with vitamins and nutrients that would help to energize your body. For instance we all know that sugar is an energiser but too much of it is a death trap; These are the things we took into consideration when creating a Can of Amber, such that even if you decide to take three Cans a day you are still within limit. That is why Amber is your best option. It gives you a better taste; it gives you a lasting impression; the Can is beautiful. And it’s also going to meet with some of your nutritional and economic needs

But, then, I don’t want to give out all our secrets. But it will meet all your needs when you become a loyalist to Amber because it is not just refreshing you, it also builds your energy and gives you a better quality of life

Are you saying that Amber is for everyone?

Yes, it is for everyone that is not pregnant. Pregnant women should not take it. People below sixteen should not take it; reason being that they are still in their formative stages. Ideally, you take water or juice but from sixteen upwards, but in Nigeria they say eighteen. All said and done, Im sure it is good for everyone.

What strategies do you have to communicate these special attributes of Amber to your potential customers?

First of all the quality, the affordability, the availability and our passion for the consumer. We have BTL and ATL marketing; we have digital marketing and the main media marketing. The drive is to make sure that anyone who interacts with our brand can easily understand what we are communicating.

The next question is how? When you go on the landing pages of all our social media; on our website; you can even go on our helpline; these are all available to let you know that every step of the way you can get Amber to release the energy in you. In every aspect of your life, right from waking up from your bed Amber is available to stimulate the energy you need for each day. It is also there to unleash the energy in you to take you from one level to another. That’s what we want to communicate to our consumers.

What is Ambers brand personality and what strategy have you put in place to communicate that brand personality?

When you first look at it, the first thing you see is brand appeal. This is a sophisticated Can, good design and packaging. The next thing you see is the logo and you will see there is something adventurous about this logo. Over time, when you get to meet Amber, you will say oh this brand is actually sincere. When  you open it you taste the excitement. So, these are some of the things I would say we are communicating to our consumers.

What activities are you creating to launch and communicate Amber brand in this global lockdown occasioned by COVID 19?

We have launched digitally. We launched in the new normal way. We had to go back to the drawing board to assess and identify areas and places where the government have allowed people to meet and gather in line with the Covid-19 safety protocols. We identified what the people are looking at now, We discovered that most people are watching their TV, listening to their radios, they are seeing billboards, they are looking at buses, they are reading newspapers, and they are looking at things that will create excitement for them because it has been a trying time for the whole world. For us, therefore, we key into those areas to make sure that Amber is available at every point. If you wake up in the morning and walk out, you find Amber on the BRT buses. When you get out and you are in the BRT bus and you look at your phone screen you will see Amber. When you listen to your radio or put on your TV you find Amber on your TV. When you get into a supermarket, you will find Amber there.  So, we are taking our time to track the lifestyle of an average Nigerian and we are following them there to ensure that we are within the regulation of the federal government but we are meeting Nigerians at every point of the way.

Launching a new product at this COVID 19 era; you must be bold and courageous. Despite the challenges occasioned by the lockdown, here you are expressing confidence at the success of Amber. Where is that confidence coming from?

For me as a person, I have always been intrinsically motivated. One of my key words is “Nothing is impossible.”  Second, I believe in the Nigerian market; the Nigerian market is not one that will wither away because of the storm. We have been through many storms and we know how to weather them. I am a Nigerian with the original naija spirit. I am resilient and my brand is resilient.

Is Amber your first experience with the Nigerian business environment?

No, I am a serial entrepreneur. I have been around in the market. I have been in the Nigerian business environment for a long time.

What has been your experience doing business in Nigeria?

First of all, I would say that the Nigerian market is not for the faint hearted. If you want to do it you have to do it. With the Nigerian business experience I learnt that every challenge is there to teach you something; not that it is not going to break you down temporarily  but you will definitely come back stronger. And over the years I have learnt that every time there is something blocked, when I go back and look at it properly, there is a solution in it. So, using this theory, there are many things people are scared of. Most of the time fear is a function of the mind, it’s not reality. That is how I see life. So, for me every time something shows up, I sit down and look at it properly. You take self away from it with business,  self means emotions, because we all have our fears; once you are able to push past that, that means, nothing is impossible, absolutely nothing.

Given what you have said, would you advise investors to come and invest in Nigeria?

I will say yes to a large extent depending on what you are investing in. Once you know what you are investing in and you have done your research and you have your data, go ahead and invest. A seed has to die to grow. But now, if you feel you just have the money to throw around, this is not the time to throw around money. For someone that doesn’t know what he is doing but just wants some kind of investment, I would say keep your money in the bank and let it be giving you some little returns till we find some stability. 

How do you see your brand adapting and adopting to the local business environment? 

My brand is a household name. That is how I see it. For me, therefore, adapting to the environment is a no brainer. The moment you experience the brand, you fall in love with it, you will take it home. Your kids will tell their kids and their kids will tell their kids. It becomes a household name.

Your plans to grow the brand?

I am very passionate about the grassroots because that is the strength of the country.  So, we are growing the brand from bottom up; making sure that the average Nigerian would experience the brand.

Is it positioned for every segment of the market? 

Yes, affordability is one of the things we pride ourselves in. Affordability is relative; that’s why I didn’t say cheap. Now, once you understand quality you will understand that it is affordable. So, the most important thing is to get people to understand what they are getting first. Give people value, which is key. Let’s use, for example, the bus conductor; he is doing that because he is aspiring to be something. Every step of the way there is a value proposition for him and there is a value he is looking for. He feels like he is going somewhere else. Amber is there to show you that from the lowest to the top, you are always going to need Amber. So it is positioned that everybody should drink Amber, from the boy that is pushing Keke to the CEO, everybody should have Amber. It is positioned to meet the energy boosting requirements of everybody.

What’s your plan to sustain Amber’s market share in this new normal?

First and foremost, a brand takes the character of the owner and so if the owner is very fickle it is inevitable the brand will be fickle.  We are indomitable. That’s my take on that.

What is your take away from COVID-19, which would guide your business strategies going forward?

For me, it reminds me that emergent strategies are very important. Don’t ever think in your mind that the strategy I have is the best and will remain so forever. It has thought me to always think. I always think; but it has made me to go back thinking and to find details. I am very open to new advice; but you have to be more open because COVID-19 thought us that you don’t know until you know or you think you know. And you may not even know. And that at every time you should be willing to be fluid but don’t lose your core.

When we began the year, we had a strategy. But oh with Corona virus pandemic, we said this is what we have. So we have to tune it to what is happening now to get the same result. So, COVID-19 opened my mind and I faced one of my biggest fears which is staying at home and not doing anything. I couldn’t imagine it. I am always traveling. I am someone that is so used to being busy. I travel a lot and in four months I haven’t gone anywhere. Even at that, I am a very smiling person who wants to be in the midst of people; but now you can’t hug and things like that. It also showed compassion for people. Even if I have been compassionate, I now have a bit more compassion for people. Now I pay closer attention to people, to my staff, etc. It opened up that human side that I knew I had but I didn’t know the depth of it.

What do you have for the consumer who is faced choosing either of two choices, food and Amber, to go for Amber instead of food given the times we are in?

The beauty of the drink is that everybody wants to unwind with something nice; even if I want to eat or drink water which is necessary. Sometimes I may want to have a drink. The pandemic changed only the way we associate with people and not the way we associate with the things we buy. The new normal has not affected consumption and the needs that must be met. What we are trying to do is to make you experience Amber; once you like  Amber it will make its way to your house. That’s the plan. Alongside that, we want to meet the needs of our consumers. Consumersneeds are food, drink, life, shelter and money. Those five things we are meeting. Amber will empower its consumers. We have plans on how we can ensure that because you interacted with a Can of Amber, your life will never be the same. Apart from you giving us your money, we are going to give you a reason to live.

Advise to the Federal government on how to support businesses at this time?

I think they should support businesses, by looking at tax rebates for Nigerian brands whether it is produced here or elsewhere but it is marketed in Nigeria and it is for Nigerians. For instance, Amber is produced in South Africa but you see if the federal government has provided us with enabling environment production in Nigeria is good. However, to produce the quality we need, certain raw materials which were imported from all over the world to ensure that every Can has top quality. Now bringing it down here, the first issue we have is with the ports, in the process of clearing, some of our things have been vandalized. So, it is safe to bring the finished products in Cans. Nonetheless, over time, our plan is to produce Amber in Nigeria at some point; but when I cannot tell you.

Having met your brand, can I get to meet the person behind the Amber brand; who you are; your background, etc?

My name is Lola Adedeji. I will say that I am a serial entrepreneur. I had my educational background in Nigeria, UK and Ghana. I have a passion for God; I love God. I love people. I can be fun but I am super driven. I can be playful sometimes but not when I am doing business. I love traveling. I love shopping. I love meeting people but that is weird because I am very reserved. I can meet people but I don’t want them in space too much. I take people in bits. I spend more time thinking, creating things in my head and bringing them to life.  I do a lot of mingling. When you eat too much pizza, you don’t like pizza anymore. That is how it has been.

Your passion?

I think that the first thing is that when I put my pen on paper on a plan, I relax. I like seeing it come out. I like getting results. I love helping people achieve their dreams. I find joy in that. For instance, my staff, I want a situation in which when they leave, they are better than they ever imagined. I like investing in people and I like people investing in me. So, my passion I would say is bringing things to life and building people. I am always looking for a way to play my part to make people better.

What’s your style?

I would say I like classy, elegant style; but sometimes I am edgy. The basic thing is that I like to feel comfortable in whatever I am wearing. Sometimes it might look edgy, and, at other times, classy or elegant. I put together stuffs that I feel look good on me. It might not necessarily look good on someone else because we don’t have the same body type.

Are you crazy about any brand name?

No. I put together anything that I like but, most times, brands that have quality. It is not necessarily about a name, but it must be about quality it is about perception.

What’s childhood like?

First of all, I am the twelfth child. I am the last child.

How come you were not spoilt?

From a very young age, I said to my dad that I never wanted his wealth. I think at age sixteen I asked him how he became so rich. He told me how he had to struggle and all that before he made it. And it occurred to me that he didn’t have any inheritance yet he had made so much for himself. So, from that time on I figured that I wanted to do my own thing and that’s how I have been driven. Of course, I have supportive parents, supportive family. I was blessed to have people who guided and tutored me from every mistake; who will say if this didn’t work, try it this way. I had a community; and that sharpened my confidence.

Tell us about this mingling stuff

I used to be super friendly. I used to have a lot of girls. I had my fair share of parties. One of my past time in life is events planning. So, I know how to put things together and I enjoy seeing people have fun; even if I don’t want to be part of the fun, I can create the fun and then move out. As such, I had my fair share of partying, traveling, clubbing, house parties but in my head, I keep reminding myself of who I am; I never strayed. Even in my parties, there was always decency. This explains why you will never see my face or name in anything wrong. I always had it at the back of my head that even while I was partying if I must be something in life then I must be proportionate in everything I do.

There is the belief, out there by some youths, that there is easy money; that they don’t have to work hard to make money. With your wealthy background you are still working hard to earn an honest living. Being a young beautiful woman yourself, what advice would you give to that young girl or boy who still believes by virtue of what they watch or read on social media, that there is easy way to make money?

First thing I always say is that money is a deception. It is because of the deception that they always say there is easy money. Money always gravitates to the people who know how to use it. If money comes to you and you don’t know how to use it, it will fizzle away. So, easy money does not exist; but foolish money does. So, what I need to tell young people is, invest in your mind. Money is a reward for hard work. It is not a reason for hard work.


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