Chocolate and other confections have been manufactured in Alexandria, Egypt since 1919, when the Royal Egyptian Chocolate Factory, now known as the Alexandria Confectionary and Chocolate Company, or ‘Corona’ began producing the popular sweets. The Royal Egyptian Chocolate Factory quickly became famous (and beloved) for its Corona chocolates, which are still manufactured today (Corona, n.d). While foreign competition is making its way into the Egyptian market, both in sales and production, Corona continues to be uniquely positioned as the country’ first and only Egyptian originated chocolate company (Corona, n.d.; Nieburg, 2014). While market shares may have eroded over time, there still appears to be significant opportunity for the company to capitalize upon its unique heritage and quality candy offerings.
As noted on the company’s website, www.corona-1919.com, Corona was the first chocolate company (and confectionary) in Egypt, having been started in 1919 by a Greek businessman, Tommy Khristo (or Tomy Khresto, per the Corona website). The company operated as the candy market maker and operated independently until 1963, when following the July 23rd Revolution, it became nationalized by the revolutionary government which took over most private assets (Corona, n.d). Decades later in 2000, the company was returned to private sector operations, upon sale to the Sonid group “Eng.Sami Saad,” of Egypt (Id).
In the early days, Corona became famous for not only its chocolates, but also for the gazelle which once lived on its factory grounds and remains a company symbol today, decades later (Id). The chocolate factory founded in 1919 was historically significant, not only because it was the first of its kind in Egypt, but also because it was a first in all of the Near East (Id). Its founder was Greek, and all of the employees at that time were either Greek or Egyptian. While the name has changed over the years, the company still is synonymous with quality chocolate product and the virtue of having been the first and only Egyptian chocolate company.
Given its historical foundations, there is little surprise that Corona resonates well with a consumer base that either recalls or values the company’s nostalgic offerings, including noted and famous products such as the Bimbo, Biscuits, Candies, Chocolate Rocket, Cocoa, Toffees and Gum, and Wafers (Corona, n.d). Keen on maintaining value and a reputation for quality, the company has historically and continuously invested in quality control systems and is presently ISO 9002 certified, along with other internationally recognized standards and certifications (Id).
Industry reports seem to indicate that chocolate sales are continuing to rise in Egypt, with 2015 reporting indicating an 18% increase in value and a 7% rise in volume in 2015 (Egypt Chocolate-Country Report, 2015). These changes were noted as being relative to increases in unit pricing, with a focus upon mid-priced products (Id). As among the leaders in the Egyptian chocolate market, Cadbury (owned by Mondelez International) continued to dominate in 2015, with a 47% market share (Id). Cadbury, who is noted as having a wide spectrum of products appealing to diverse socio-economic classes of consumers, was followed by Mars with a 26% share of the Egyptian market, and Nestle with 8% (Id). While the Egypt-Chocolate Country Report summary does not touch upon the share enjoyed by Corona, the full report most likely examines what this smaller, but historically significant Egyptian chocolate and confectionary company enjoys in terms of market share and penetration within the country.
The Corona website clearly indicates that the company is continuing to manufacture and market a full range of chocolates and confectionary items, including those traditional items for which it is known. The distribution points are not going to be as diverse as the product generated by the multi-national market leaders which certainly provides opportunity for the company to consider alternative distribution points and market segmentation strategies. After all, it led the market until late into the 1990s, when the foreign competitors took action with respect to the strength of the Egyptian chocolate/confectionary market and began making investments there (Nieburg, 2014). Nonetheless, even with the advent of mega brands such as Cadbury, Mars, and Nestle, the Corona brand remains the first and only Egyptian founded and based manufacturer in the market.
Having been in existence since 1919, the company’s products have an undoubtedly strong place in Egyptian history and a rich and sentimental past that has potential to be capitalized upon going forward.
It probably makes the most sense for Corona to continue to identify as the first Egyptian chocolate and confectionary company, and to target those who would respond well to such notions of heritage and culture. A natural segment might be the older end of the population who would best recall a time when Corona was the primary market presence—a time prior to the international companies taking roost in Egypt, which actually was not that long ago, in the late 1990s (Nieburg, 2014).
Battling for market share with international mega brands with broad product offerings would be an uphill battle for most any brand, and accordingly, it would seem that Corona may benefit from differentiation tactics to set its products apart from the rest of the market. Sales outlets and distribution points are one consideration. Is this product properly situated in hypermarts or superstores, or is it better available as a ‘local’ product or perhaps ‘specialty’ item. If the retail marketplace features ‘Made in Egypt’ promotions, this could be one area in which the company is able to distinguish itself from the Cadburys, Mars, and Nestle items, even if those technically are packaged in the companies’ respective Egyptian facilities.
Targeted advertising and marketing promotions may have value in re-introducing the Corona brands to a younger generation of Egyptian consumers and giving them a lesson in the company’s heritage and history. Moreover, if there are Corona product offerings that are different and perhaps unique to the company, that could be capitalized upon as well, letting the next generation know that not only is the product ‘homegrown’ but that it is also not your mass produced and mass marketed item. Social media could be used to engage new target market segments for Corona, in a manner that is new and unprecedented for this company—a re-branding or re-boot of sorts reminding consumers that what is historic can still be as good as ever.
- Chocolate Confectionery in Egypt-Country Report (2015). Euromonitor. Summary Retrieved from: http://www.euromonitor.com/chocolate-confectionery-in-egypt/report
- Corona (n.d). Company website. Retrieved from: http://www.corona-1919.com/
- Nieburg, O. (2014). Nestle opens chocolate Crunch factory in Egypt. Confectionary News. Retrieved from: http://www.confectionerynews.com/Manufacturers/Nestle-opens-Crunch-chocolate-factory-in-Egypt