Interview: Taufic Zeidan
Not many beverages can out pace the mighty Red Bull, but Power Horse can. Taufic Zeidan, the man with the marketing muscle, talks to Alex Malouf in Riyadh.
August 1, 2011 12:06 by Eva Fernandes
Not many consumers in Saudi may know of Health Water Bottling Co (HWB). However, the brands that the company distributes, including Holsten and Power Horse, are household names. In fact HWB’s own bottled water brand, Nova Water, is one of the largest, not only in Saudi Arabia, but across the Gulf.
The head of marketing for HWB is Taufic Zeidan. He set up the company’s marketing function when he joined the company 10 years ago. Since then, Zeidan has grown the brands into domestic market leaders.
“For our global brands Saudi has become a key market. The kingdom may be one of the few countries worldwide where Power Horse outsells Red Bull. That’s the first line on my CV. When I joined, Holsten had a market share of two per cent. We’re now enjoying close to 18 per cent total market share in the alcohol-free beer segment.”
Founded in 1973, HWB’s initial focus was on the bottled water industry. Since then the company has spread both geographically – to Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar – as well as product-wise by adding Holsten and Power Horse to its portfolio. Its Nova Water is one of the best- known Saudi brands, according to Zeidan.
Much has changed for Zeidan during his 10 years at HWB. When he joined the company from agency BCIG – Arnold working for Holsten, he freely admits that he was the marketing department. Now, Zeidan has a team of 16 people dedicated to promoting the brands, along with a budget of $5.3 million (SAR20 million) to spend both above and below the line.
Zeidan is particularly proud of his achievements with Holsten. The premium non-alcoholic brand initially found the competition in Saudi tough, mainly owing to the tastes of the kingdom’s consumers. With the support of Zeidan and HWB, the Carlsberg-owned brand has managed to notch up a significant market share among Saudi youth.
“Saudi Arabia has played a big role in developing our brands. For example we recommended that Holsten introduce an apple flavour. When I first came to the role Holsten only had classic and lemon flavours. The brand could not compete with Barbican or Moussy at that time. The launches of apple-, strawberry-, mango- and pomegranate-flavoured beers set a trend. These products were recommended by the HWB marketing team.
“This strategy has been followed by rival brands. We initially had difficulties at first to convince Holsten Hamburg to go with flavours. The Germans are very fond of their beer. However the perception of beer is different here in Saudi. The same is true of Power Horse and energy drinks, which are perceived differently in Saudi Arabia.”
As the marketing man behind two brands aimed primarily at Saudi youth, Zeidan has been an early adopter and promoter of digital and social media. HWB started upping its spend online back in 2006 during the World Cup.
“We split our marketing budget with a dedicated percentage for online social media from
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