Kehinde Olajide of Hemisphere Beverages has created a powdered version of 'Zobo', which he is currently marketing in the USA. He reveals his plans to start selling the brew in Nigeria within the next few months, after he secures a NAFDAC certification number.
I was inspired by the high nutritional properties of Zobo and the fact that it had never been developed on a large commercial scale.
Reason for launch in USA
I actually thought about the Nigerian market first, but since I am based in the States, it was logical for me to develop the product there, using the best available technology.
Local production vs importation
We will start by importing the finished product and then work on developing the infrastructure that will enable us produce in Nigeria.
American customer base
Our customer base in the US market is very diverse; it is a mix of black, white, Hispanic and Asian. Zobo truly has an international appeal!
Drive for powdered 'Zobo'
We wanted a drink that would be easy to carry with you on the go. For example, instead of lugging around liquids on a plane, to the restaurant/gym or camp, you can just carry the powdered version and ask for water. It is a very cost-effective solution for our customers.
Prospects for product in Nigeria
Our market research has shown that the powdered version will do quite well in Nigeria. One of the reasons Zobo is not consumed in the country is that people are not sure of the source of the water used to prepare it. The powdered version will eliminate this problem because the consumer controls the water used to prepare it.
Source of raw material
Most of our raw material is sourced within the USA, while the Hibiscus is sourced from South America.
Challenges for entrepreneurs
The biggest challenge Nigerian entrepreneurs face going into factory production of Zobo is capital. The other challenges include lack of qualified personnel to run factories efficiently, lack of adequate infrastructure and inadequate entrepreneurial training.
Certification for local production
NAFDAC has been quite helpful letting us know what it needs from us. We hope to get our certification in the next few weeks.
We use social media, grassroots marketing and Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS) to market 'Zobo' in the USA. BOS is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost. We will use a very similar strategy in Nigeria, but with a much bigger emphasis on grassroots marketing.
Coping with competition
We think the quality of our product will clearly differentiate us from competitors. Our product is "all natural", "kosher certified" and has been manufactured using the best available technology in the world. Our packing is also innovative and I haven't seen anything like it in the Nigerian market.