UNO April 2019

Global brands with local hearts

Some time ago, it was thought that the challenge for marketing professionals lies in generating consumer passion for products. Today, I think our challenge is to become passionate about our consumers. When we become passionate about them, we develop a genuine interest in getting to know them, understanding them and adding value to their lives—and this will definitely be rewarded with brand loyalty.

“When we become passionate about out consumers, we develop a genuine interest in getting to know them, understanding them and adding value to their lives”

Today, I would like to talk about the main challenges a brand faces from the perspective of one company in particular, which overcame many challenges to become a market leader.

Define your brand value

Today’s consumers are very demanding. They do not consume products, but values and brand propositions. During a family vacation, our founders, the Añaños family, saw an opportunity to offer a quality drink with a wide distribution in places where no brand had been present before. After several years spent investigating consumer behavior and the country’s situation, they found an opportunity to establish a plant in the border area. This, in turn, contributed to the economic development there. Having this plant and its own distribution allowed us to come up with an interesting offering for places where quality drinks were not readily available. In this way, we first covered the towns, and then the capital. Our promise is now that where there is a Dominican, there is a Kola Real (Royal Kola).

We identified Dominican consumers as very demanding, valuing their national customs and roots. So we decided on a brand that represents Dominicans, inspiring them to get the best out of himself in every situation. The current consumer seeks brands with purpose, so our challenge is to remain consistent with the values we want to inspire in Dominican families.

Our strategy to penetrate the Dominican market focused on offering a quality product with a varied portfolio and a brand that reflects the Dominican identity. We added a wide distribution network, designed to take our drinks to previously inaccessible zones, to our quality product (with a variety of flavors and styles) and began building a brand that embodies the Dominican identity.

Today, we are proud to be leaders, contributing value to some of the main focuses for Dominican identity, such as gastronomy, sports and music.

For gastronomy, we created “El Sabor de mi País (The Flavor of My Country),” a documentary platform where we visited different Dominican regions to find the local chefs who best represented each area’s traditional dish.

In sports, we support national and minor leagues, as well as national basketball and soccer teams. We also promote sports venues in the country.

And regarding music and culture, we support local artists, contributing to carnivals and festivals in different towns and promoting recreational areas where popular traditions can be revived and enjoyed.

Choose your best allies

Your marketing team has to be multicultural and diverse, from different origins and backgrounds, since this will help ensure they generate innovative ideas from various perspectives. Marketers must be bold enough to explore new opportunities and ideas; they must be flexible enough to react and adjust when necessary; and, unquestionably, they must be results-oriented.

“Your marketing team has to be multicultural and diverse, from different origins and backgrounds, since this will help ensure they generate innovative ideas from various perspectives”

Regarding mass products, shop assistants are a relevant ally, and their feedback is important to creating mutually beneficial strategies.

On the other hand, it is necessary to identify allies for proliferating the brand. Do not look for influencers, but long-term allies who create and live the brand’s values, understanding that each one has a specific audience. They need to be genuinely committed to these values. It is often believed that a good influencer is a celebrity with millions of followers, but we believe in spokespeople with their own identities, who can grow alongside the brand.

Data vs. instinct and experience in decision-making

Measuring helps let us know if we are on the right track. Everything can—and must—be measured.

The difference lies in how often this measurement is done. We should not look for quick results, but be alert to results that are sustained over time. That’s the difference between focusing on short-term sales and sustainable brand value.

Traditional studies are necessary, as they allow us to measure certain macro-variables, but it is key to not lose human contact. Therefore, in addition to carrying out ad hoc studies, we visit people’s homes to understand how they live, their relationships with our products and how we can improve our brand experience. This also allows us to identify trends. Getting to know your consumers directly is irreplaceable.

How can we tell if we’re on the right track? By looking at consumer acceptance and recognition, the trust of and support from our customers and suppliers and our own team’s commitment and pride. We are a family of 2,100 employees who give our best every day to make each process a little more viable. At ISM, we are happy and grateful for the support of all our stakeholders, which is reflected in our leadership position in this competitive, demanding environment.

Reinvent yourself without losing your essence

The world is constantly changing, and consumers expect brands to evolve as well. Two years ago, we relaunched Kola Real. This not only focused on changing our image, but also came with a fresher attitude, more active brand experience (sports, gastronomy, music) and more dynamism in the digital world. We now hold contests where our followers can experience gastronomic, cultural and/or sporting experiences in small groups, giving us the opportunity to converse and co-create our next activities. After living a Kola Real brand experience, we want our consumers feel even more proud of being Dominican.

Face new challenges

In today’s competitive market, the main challenge is staying ahead of Dominican consumers’ demands, as they are very demanding and highly aware of global trends. To do this, we conduct periodic tests of new products and maintain an open communications channel through digital platforms. One of the most significant challenges we face comes from the current digital dynamic that has revolutionized the world, especially regarding how we communicate and connect as a society. Given that, the main challenge in this environment, filled with contamination and immediacy, is not only to connect, but to stay connected and to facilitate access to products and services in the digital realm, providing immediate responses to customer needs and questions.

Lorena Gutierrez
Marketing manager at Industrias San Miguel del Caribe
The marketing manager at Industrias San Miguel del Caribe, she is an administration and marketing specialist with more than 18 years of experience working with multinational direct sales and mass consumption companies such as ISM, AVON, Bayer and SC Johnson. She has worked in various countries, including Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, and is a member of the Steering Committee for the EFFIE Awards Dominican Republic, which recognize the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. She has worked as an undergraduate teacher and holds degrees from UPC, IPAE, ADEX and CHIO LECCA. [Dominican Republic]

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