Cola Group explains expansion strategy
Following their recent investment announcement, Cola.bet’s chief marketing officer Dana Varnytska talked to GIO about what’s coming for the company in Africa and beyond…
After securing a fourth gambling license for Africa in Nigeria, Cola Group announced its intention to invest $14.5m to enable expansion of its iGaming arm. The company also holds licenses for Zambia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
The sports betting license was granted by the Lagos State Lotteries Board to a locally-incorporated Cola.bet subsidiary company, Cola Games Limited. The Nigerian market is similar to Ethiopia’s in that both are retail-centric rather than internet based. It was a strategic move for Cola.bet to leverage its blueprint and successes in Ethiopia to expand into Nigeria.
Chief marketing officer Dana Varnytska explains what’s next for the company following their exciting news…
Gaming International Online: Now that the Nigerian license has been granted, what are the next steps for Cola.bet and where will the investment be utilised?
Dana Varnytska: Nigeria is an integral market in Africa given the country’s leading economic position and the passion for betting. The country is second to South Africa as the largest sports betting market across the continent and is more populated.
The license granted by the Lagos State Lotteries Board allows Cola.bet, under a locally incorporated, Cola.bet subsidiary company, to expand into the region by delivering its modern, mobile-first and intuitive technology services. Plans are underway to set-up an office, hire a wave of employees and establish a foothold in the country. These foundations provide the perfect launchpad for the marketing arm of the business to engage with players thanks to an in-depth analysis of local nuances, behavioral traits, and deep understanding of audience needs.
A considerable portion of the investment will activate marketing strategies and expand the retail network in key target areas. Funding has also been ring fenced for ongoing software development and securing additional African licenses in regulated markets.
GIO: Why did Cola.bet target the regulated African iGaming market for its initial launch?
DV: Africa is a dynamic market that offers rich rewards to those who deliver a localised strategy that can capitalise on a deep passion for sports, with football leading the charge. To make a success of the region it is vital not to make the mistake of labelling Africa’s countries as one entity, each country has its own traits and individual markers, yet football is the common language.
Football has been the catalyst for developing our marketing strategy to provide a high-quality user experience for customers and give Nigerians the opportunity to earn from what they love.
Internet access and speed is improving all the time to make Africa a region of huge potential. This shift forms a fertile space to introduce a mobile-first and intuitive platform that provides an exceptional player experience.
Many African markets are nascent and that represents major growth opportunities. This coupled with the fact that the barriers to entry in such a fast-growing region are comparably lower than other markets. A thorough knowledge of the local processes also means Cola.bet can navigate the laborious license procedure quickly to speed up market access. Player acquisition costs are also lower than many regulated European markets.
GIO: How much importance do you place in a localised marketing approach to deliver on your growth ambitions?
DV: A localised approach is the only way to make a success of the African market. Our mantra is ‘Think Global, Act Local.’ Cola.bet works tirelessly to keep its finger on the market’s pulse to ensure the business is best prepared to meet demand. Designing the platform in-house meant we can easily change it to suit each region.
A localised marketing approach pushes the envelope for User Acquisition and Retention strategies. It gives lots of opportunities to implement various new ideas and bring them to life. Research has revealed that the User Acquisition cost is increasing every year because of growing competitiveness and that means only the best companies that have done due diligence will stand out from the crowd.
Cola.bet complements the innovative technology with an on-the-ground presence in the core countries it operates. This means Cola.bet runs offices in each market, employes provincial staff and rolls out visible branding.
GIO: What are the key features that enable the Cola.bet platform to stand out against competition?
DV: Cola.bet’s pioneering platform is a highly customisable solution that can be tailored for the needs of each market and player demographic. Our customer-first approach means the user experience is exceptional and that helps nurture impressive customer retention rates.
Our goal is for Cola.bet to be a brand that is known to respect sports fans and ensure they enjoy an authentic betting experience tailored for them. Several promotional campaigns will run to communicate this brand position that will build trust with the product. Cola.bet is entering the market with the highest odds and bespoke regional promotions and bonuses. Supporting this will be a highly optimised marketing approach to attract and acquire long term customers.
The platform allows B2B partners seamless access to a curated content catalogue that is suited to a wide range of markets. There is also the retail operation available in countries where a physical presence is accepted. All local payment practises are also integrated onto the platform where partners can find a vast selection of sports events, esports and casino games.
GIO: What will your timeline and approach be for expansion into the regulated US and European iGaming markets?
DV: At the current pace, we expect to obtain our first European gaming license before the end of 2022 and the first license in North America the year after.
GIO: How did you develop your consulting service and where does it support best?
DV: The consulting service provides our partners with a complete iGaming service. Experiences gained while working through the complicated license procedures and building the Cola.bet platform has resulted in an unrivalled understanding of the African region. The consulting service enables partners to gain insight into best practise and what the strongest strategy is to launch.
Third-party partners will soon be able to access an affiliate programme and whitelabel platform as part of a one-stop-shop solution for new companies to initiate operations within the new markets.