One-on-One with Chris Diaz on the future of Bidco Africa Group (Part One)
By David Indeje / August 17, 2017
Chris Diaz, is the Group Sales and Marketing Director at Bidco Africa. He leads the sales and marketing functions for the entire group including corporate communication, distribution and customer strategies across the consumer markets.
Chris is a diverse thought leader experienced in global integrated Corporate sales, Marketing and business strategy across multi industries . He was awarded one of the most influential global Marketing leaders by the World Marketing Congress. First African leader to win the global award as Best Modern marketing leader Markies 2017 presented in Vegas, USA.
Soko Directory caught up with Chris to talk about his current role at Bidco Africa, a place he once served as a non-executive director since 2009 and now he is back after he resigned from Kenya Airways in February.
What is involved in your role as the sales and marketing director for Bidco Africa?
My role is to position Bidco strategically both in the current and new markets we seek to go into, in line with our growth and expansion plan. I also ensure that we deliver high quality products to the customer and meet them at their points of needs through our very established route to market plan. As a lead of the marketing team, we also create and build brands which enhance customer loyalty over time through the experience they get while interacting with our products.
Bidco believes in the future of Africa, kindly explain more because at a personal level, you believe in promoting Africa to the world?
Having been born and bred in Africa, I have passion in Buy Africa, Build Africa. As a person, I believe in the potential for Africa and living the spirit.
Africa has the capability to produce high quality products and at Bidco Africa, we explore the full value chain in agriculture by our strong belief in the soil-to-pan philosophy. This is through the thousands of farmers we have contracted across the country to grow oil seeds offering a guaranteed market at competitive price.
Apart from just manufacturing, we believe in building and marketing brands to the African consumer.
One thing that is striking about the determination and energy at Bidco is that when we are trying to build something, what matters to us is who wants it most; and that is our ultimate consumer.
Through our focus and efforts on establishing high quality brands, we remain competitive and are able to fight with global brands that have set foot in this market. The beauty of it is that through our homegrown brands, the consumer is able to experience a product that is built around their expectations and meets them at their points of need. This is our success story; Being able to supply our quality brands in up to 20 countries, reaffirming our belief in the future of Africa.
“Africa will build the future,” said Mark Zuckerberg, when he visited Kenya in 2016.
What does the existing competition look like for Bidco Africa? What are some of the initiatives in place that positions you across the region?
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry is extremely competitive since some of the players we have are very well established multinationals. In recent years, we have seen more companies set foot in this market and therefore the competition can only get stiffer.
However, there are so many strategies and tactics to win in the industry. Bidco is a giant in Africa with very unique and differentiated branding and marketing strategy that positions us and connects us to the African consumer in a special way.
We believe in getting into initiatives such as mutual partnerships, both global and African, which contribute to the greatness of the people of Africa.
We do not take market research lightly, we go all out to find out what it is that the consumer is asking for and is looking to meet. We are then able to meet their needs appropriately.
Bidco is also a lean and Kaizen-practicing organization. We believe and invest in innovation on our journey of continuous improvement.
Read: Adopt Kaizen Practices to Increase investor attraction
At Bidco, we use differentiation and innovation to build our competitive advantage and we are market leaders in various categories. We do this by changing the rules of the game, by reinventing the way the business is done in the industry. Through our investment in real-time online systems integrated from production, distribution, communication to personal relationships, we are able to scale quickly forcing our competition to play catch-up.
“Great innovators choose from larger sets of options and can even be more selective.”
We are able to sort through the ideas we know the customers will love and choose only those the competitors won’t copy.
Explain to us more about the “Soil to Pan” full value chain to enhance farm income and economic growth.
Bidco lives by and believes in the philosophy of spreading the goodness of mother-nature in every home through the world class products designed to meet every consumer’s need. As a result, we are exploring the chain right from obtaining the raw materials locally from the over 30,000 farmers we have entered into a guaranteed off-take contracts with, to grow sunflower, soya and corn oil seeds.
Read: Bidco Africa: Creating opportunities for Kenyan youth in agriculture
We are changing livelihoods of thousands of farmers by getting them to practice agribusiness and not just the traditional agriculture. In turn, the resultant is a transformed society with a positive growth on the economy.
According to the World Bank, agriculture and agribusiness in Africa will grow to be a US$ 1 trillion industry by 2030. I therefore, challenge the relevant bodies to review the incentive structure in the country.
About 24 percent of Africa GDP comes from agriculture and if post-harvest activities are taken into account, agriculture related industries will account for nearly half of all the economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa.
We are on course with our philosophy which encourages as many people as possible to venture into agribusiness because Africa alone, holds about half of the world’s fertile and as yet unused land and yet spends US$ 25 billion annually importing food.
What did you mean by having a Customer Experience Strategy to create customer loyalty and curb customer turnover during the Customer experience management conference?
FMCG industry has always largely depended on the insights into the customer behavior and preferences. This has seen the industry view strategies such as those that involve information technology as a necessary business enabler and try digitization to create engaging experiences for customers.
Our customers’ journeys are mapped out right from product searches, to discovering, to making them brand loyalists.
“It is not just about Products, but about the Services as well.”
Our strategy lays focus on product innovation which in turn stands out among competitors and know the importance of astounding customer service. We make efforts to direct customer care and support towards winning the game.
As an FMCG company, we emphasize providing value offerings to the customers since the traditional sales and production scenario has become irrelevant. To widen our scope, we have come up with personalized products and services which are more appealing now.
Through the online digital disruption, we are moving quickly with agility and swiftness to integrate multi-channel solutions to ease up customer interactions. We are also able to measure and evaluate the customer’s’ experience and honest feedback.
How has Bidco Africa established an effective route-to-market strategy for its products in Kenya?
We ensure we have products that fit every market and every pocket and this ensures a cutting edge and effective route to market.
We have, very well, evaluated the distribution landscape in our markets and understood all the options we have. This has allowed us to understand where our consumers are going to buy our products. Through a key focus on branding, we know where our key focus areas are; we do not try to be too many things for too many and end up segmenting our markets and treating them differently, with a special attention.
Clearly, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”
We thrive on fostering robust partnerships. We engage most of our stakeholders such as distributors with mutual interests and this ensures we reach out to every consumer in the market.
We are also using technology to improve our systems that reach out to customer execution and creating a unique experience as they interact with our products.
With our belief in continuous improvement of our structures, we are always innovating the distribution of our products. New ideas are welcomed and rewarded at Bidco.
We have a strong team that lays their focus on research and analysis to come up with actionable insights on how to go about the market.
How do you source for distributors who can meet your business goals?
We engage distributors that drive the agenda of inclusive business distribution networks.
This is supported by Bidco to ensure a win-win for both parties. Everyone on board has to be competent and able to work within the expected business pressures. The modern day consumer has a wide variety of choices to pick from and therefore, we can never take chances to be late on the shelves.
We always guarantee every single consumer that we will effectively meet them at their points of need. Therefore, this is usually open to those who have the capacity and are able to deliver in good time because Bidco works on systems that are real-time.