Sumol + Compal: Refreshing the Beverage Industry for the Modern Portuguese Market

Written by: Megan Griffin

A long day exploring sunny Portugal can work up quite a thirst. Fortunately, there is no shortage of refreshing soft drinks, teas, and juices to rehydrate, while experiencing a part of Portuguese culture at the same time. We met with Julio Gomez, Regional Manager, and Rodrigo Costa, Marketing Manager, at the Sumol + Compal Lisbon offices to learn more about the company’s strategy. Sumol + Compal were two separate Portuguese beverage companies (Sumol, focusing on carbonated beverages, and Compal, juices) that merged together in 2009. They are the largest non-alcoholic drink company in Portugal, amassing even more market share than Coke. In 2018 their EBITDA was 41.9 million euros. The company is divided into three segments: Nutrition – comprised of juices, Refreshing -comprised of soda, waters, teas, and beer, and Other. In addition to uniquely Portuguese products of Sumol and Compal, they are also the exclusive distributor in Portugal for PepsiCo and Lipton. Currently, Compal can be purchased in 62 countries and Sumol in 45 around the world.

The company is currently revamping their marketing strategy due to declining sales and a rapidly changing Portuguese market. In order to expand, they need to target the Saudade Market- Portuguese emigrants in the United States and elsewhere that account for more than 50 million people. It is a nostalgic brand for them and a taste of home that they can pass on to the second generation.

Sumol is also trying to target tomorrow’s consumers today. They create digital marketing campaigns with influencers and micro-influencers to drive engagement and brand awareness. Their new message celebrates authenticity and is lead by a team of co-creators through Instagram posts and sponsored trips such as Sumol Snowtrip.

Compal is also uniquely positioned to target the African market through its Portuguese-speaking nations. They started local production in Angola and Mozambique in 2013, with special editions of Compal made with local African fruits. They also developed new, smaller packaging and cans to make the product more affordable for less-developed nations. In the nine months after they launched in Angola, they had sold more than 52 million cans, thanks in part to Compal’s regard as an essential source of vitamins and nutrition or even a meal replacement.

Another issue Sumol + Compal will face in the coming years is the gap between sustainability and convenience. How will they leverage the responsibility to protect the planet while respecting consumers’ wishes for a cheaper product in plastic bottles? We hope to follow their successes in the future. 

Thank you again to the team at Sumol + Compal for sharing their story with us. Saúde!