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🦄 vol. 54
sash chats about nando's localisation strategy
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peri-peri, please? 🐓
When it comes to African brand success stories, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Nando’s - a once small-town chicken shop from Joburg, now a global brand, changing the world… one quarter chicken (mild, with extra sauce and spicy wedges 🤤) at a time.
I had the pleasure of interning at their IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa) HQ during my undergrad, and while I couldn’t get over the fact that their cafeteria is genuinely a Nando’s restaurant… It didn't take me long to realise that behind the global brand, its delicious chicken and hilarious ad campaigns, lies one of the greatest lessons in localisation strategy and execution.
A brief history 🤓
The legend goes that on a fine afternoon in 1987, two friends, Robbie Brozin (🇿🇦) and Fernando Duarte (🇵🇹), had lunch at a small Portuguese eatery called “Chickenland” in Rosettenville, Joburg. Brozin was so impressed by the flame-grilled peri-peri chicken that he proposed that the pair buy the restaurant… and Nando’s (named after Fernando’s first born son, Nando) was born.
Global expansion 🚀
Fast-forward ~35 years, and Nando’s is now a global brand, with 1200+ stores in 20+ countries. Notably, over 450 of these are in the UK and Ireland (their biggest market) alone 🤯.
How’d they manage to achieve this scale? This could easily be an MBA thesis topic, but I’d like to hone in on one standout element in particular: localisation.
In true customer-centric form, Brozin (who long served in the position of group CEO) was hell-bent on nailing the landing in each and every market, always ensuring local context and nuance was taken into consideration, while staying true to the brand’s core values.
Some cool examples to chew on:
Product 🌶 : Nando’s tweaks its spice levels and flavours according to the market’s general pallet, and in some instances, adds new items to their menus.
I learnt that in Abu Dhabi, one of the best selling items is its espetada (presented on a big hanging skewer). It’s understood that some locals order more to their tables than they actually need… as a flex! 😂
Pricing and positioning 💵: Nando’s is arguably positioned in SA as a (kinda pricey) fast-food chain, but is categorised more as “casual dining” in markets like the UK.
A half chicken (on its own) in 🇿🇦 is ~$5.10 / ~R88.00
In 🇬🇧 the same will set you back ~$9.60 / ~R166.00
Place 🧱: There’s also varying levels of emphasis on the in-dining experience in different markets.
🇬🇧: Nando’s restaurants are more geared towards a (fancier) sit-down experience - the type of place you could impress someone with on a date 😉.
🇿🇦: Nando’s has even experimented with smaller physical stores (with less seating capacity) to optimise towards delivery as its main channel.
And while the product and experience is tailored to fit the needs of the local market, one can’t ignore the real Nando’s superpower…
The brand 🥰
Since inception, the Nando’s brand has been associated with being warm, quirky, culturally relevant, and a voice of the people… across all of the markets it operates in.
Advertising 📺: Through its (award-winning) ad campaigns, Nando’s has been known to push the boundaries, create a stir, and make effective use of satire. The (often controversial) ads tend to go viral, irrespective of whether media channels decide to pull them or not. 😂
Art collection 🎨: In each of the 1200+ stores across the globe, Nando’s displays original South African pieces from artists that have come through one of their development programmes, ensuring the in-store experience is always tied to its 🇿🇦 roots.
Future looking 🔮
With great scale, comes great responsibility.
In the markets where Nando’s is well established, it’ll have to make sure that it's evolving to remain relevant…
Stiff competition 👀: Chicken is the most consumed meat in South Africa, and accounts for close to 50% of all fast-food sales. Naturally, there are multiple (local and international) brands gunning for their share of the pie. And while the Nando’s strategy would definitely not be to open a branch on every corner, I suspect that it would be considering how to defend its market share.
Is the future delivery? 🛵: Uber Eats and Mr D aside, Nando’s has its own delivery app too. With strong growth forecasted in both platform-to-consumer and restaurant-to-consumer segments, it will be interesting to see how big of a role it’ll play going forward.
Product diversification 🛒 : The strong brand has enabled Nando’s to branch out into other revenue streams too, and you can now find their bottled PERi-PERi sauces at major retailers in key markets. Is there room for further retail product development? 🤔
Nando’s has come a long way from its humble Rosettenville beginnings to become the global powerhouse that it is today. Through clever localisation of both product and experience, and through maintaining a relatable brand, they’ve been able to effectively scale abroad and resonate with customers from far and wide.
But like most good businesses, Nando’s biggest challenge will be ensuring that it is constantly evolving to remain relevant in the future. 🔮
Maybe one day I’ll tell you the story about the time I had lunch with Robbie Brozin. 😉
speaking of chicken, sash thinks that kfc’s latest ad campaign is genius
matt enjoyed this piece on preserving optionality