Re-branding fast moving consumer goods : the case of Nestlé South Africa.
Re-branding is an opportunity for marketers of fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) to reposition the brand and differentiate it from competitor‘s products. However, in spite of the significant opportunities and benefits that re-branding presents if carried out correctly, some marketers simply fail to successfully deliver ‗new‘ brand images to customers, and others are faced with a ‗back-lash‘ from consumers and are forced to revert to the original branding. Since there is a dearth of knowledge on the practical efforts of re-branding FMCGs by the world‘s largest companies, an exploratory study using a mixed methods approach was conducted to understand re-branding at one of the world‘s largest FMCGs companies, namely Nestle SA. More specifically, an investigating was conducted to understand the process Nestlé followed in re-branding its coffee and other beverage brands from 2010 to 2012; the type of re-branding strategy that was used to position and reposition its beverage brands; the importance of retaining a corporate brand name, logo and image when rebranding; and the turnover pattern during the years when re-branding was undertaken. The Nestle managers‘ perceptions on the cost versus the benefits of re-branding were also ascertained. Six managers who represented the marketing, packaging and customer service divisions of Nestle‘s (Escourt) coffee and beverage brands formed the convenience sample of this study. The concurrent mixed methods approach which consisted of two phases was used. A structured questionnaire using opened and closed ended questions were used to conduct interviews with the sample. In addition internal official documentation related to re-branding, namely, policies and turnover reports were reviewed and analysed. It became evident that Nestlé‘s key reason for re-branding is innovation of the coffee and beverage brands. It was also ascertained that Nestlé has a customized re-branding strategy for each product and, the Nestle logo proved to be the most important identifier of the company and is therefore always retained during re-branding. It was also apparent that respondents viewed the benefits of re-branding as outweighing the costs. Furthermore, since the sales fluctuated post re-branding, it was concluded that with respect to the products concerned at Nestle, that there is no direct relationship between re-branding and sales. The implications of the findings for marketers of FMCGs are that they need to be cognizant of the need to change the ‗look and feel‖ of brands over time to keep them relevant and compete effectively. Furthermore, they need to ensure that the changes are gradual, acceptable and relevant, and that all the costs of re-branding are taken into consideration so that an informed decision to re-brand is made. Furthermore, marketers should be aware that re-branding which is not properly carried out can be damaging to the brand, and the importance of social media as a tool to communicate with consumers prior, during and post re-branding should not be underplayed. As with all research studies, this study had certain limitations which restricts the ability to generalize the findings to all FMCGs companies. This was more of a ‗case‘ study, although it involved an international FMCG company. Perhaps a comparative study of re-branding coffee and beverage brands at Nestlé‘s factories in other countries may serve to compare and strengthen the findings. It could also shed light on Nestlé‘s‘ international re-branding strategies, which findings could then be more relevant for generalization. A further limitation of this study is that although internal documents were provided, limitations were placed in terms of the information that could be divulged in this study. This resulted in sales units being estimated from documentation and therefore accurate figures could not be disclosed. Future studies should be anonymously conducted so that more informed recommendations could be made with respect to turnover and expenditure on re-branding.