In Ethiopia, few families have access to sufficient protein sources. Poultry, an important source of protein and other essential nutrients, is common across the country, but most farmers raise local breeds that do not produce as many eggs or grow as quickly as improved, imported breeds. To address this gap, Ethio Chicken is expanding commercial access to improved poultry breeds through a network of rural sales agents and a multi-pronged marketing campaign that focuses on how eggs and chicken can help improve nutrition.
EthioChicken began operations in Ethiopia in 2010, with the acquisition of a government-run poultry farm. Within several years, the company had become the largest poultry producer in Ethiopia, and through a partnership with Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, sold more than 3 million improved breed day-old chicks and more than 3,000 MT of high quality feed through a network of 1,000 sales agents.
EthioChicken’s successful entry into the Ethiopian poultry market required hard work, flexibility, and responsiveness to its target customers. EthioChicken initially thought customers would want to purchase chickens for the economic opportunity of egg and meat sales. However, EthioChicken later adopted a multifaceted marketing approach, one that also emphasized the nutritional aspect of its chickens and their eggs. EthioChicken worked with a local marketing firm to develop brochures, banners, billboards, and a radio advertisement, depicting Ethiopian women with chickens and eggs, with messages like, “Chicken meat makes my baby grow up strong!” and “My children’s health improved from eating eggs!” These resonated with families that typically lack quality protein in their diets.
EthioChicken’s multipronged approach to marketing provides important lessons to other companies that wish to expand into emerging markets. Through various marketing channels and the use of several simple and powerful messages, EthioChicken reached a broader group of customers, and gave them multiple reasons to purchase its chickens. By engaging a local marketing firm attuned to the Ethiopian consumer, EthioChicken could focus on its core business, the production of day-old chicks and feed. Perhaps most important of all, EthioChicken recognized that smallholder customers demand high quality products, and will spend their limited resources accordingly.