A marketing Expert, Aare Fatai Odesile, who is also the Managing Director, Grand Oak Ltd, has said that government and players in the Nigerian marketing industry must synergise to ensure that the industry experience a tremendous success this year.
Odesile who made this known recently in Lagos disclosed that, “2017 was an interesting year both nationally and even for us at Grand Oak Ltd, as an organisation.
“As Nigerians, we wobbled through 2016 with so many problems. We are all living witnesses to the ridiculous fluctuations in the foreign exchange market.
“As I said at a forum, since my 28 years plus experience in this business, 2016 witnessed, perhaps, the highest price reviews in the FMCG sector. This is because practically every week we got our costs; and we had to control ourselves”
However, he said, “we couldn’t pass all the costs to the consumers. So, we started 2017 with a lot of hope, projections for dollars, projections for fuel, benchmarking oil prices and so many propositions.
“Indeed, 2017 I think, has separated the boys from the men. We knew that even as recent as April/May 2017, some industries were retrenching. So, the year started with lots of activities, such as redundancies, which also affected business.
“If you go back in retrospect to 2017, some key businesses in the aviation industry went under; they are just scrambling now to come back.
” From aviation to news print, telecoms to important drinks and FMCG products, lots of people lost their jobs. Just about a week ago, I read in a publication that officially put the number of people who lost their jobs to between 4,000 and 5,000 in one year across the entire industry. That is massive.”
According to him, “from the story we met, even the birth of Nigeria Distilleries in 1977 was due to what we call the Indigenization Decree of former President Obasanjo.
” Prior to that era, the company was bringing in some brands like Rose, Key Schnapps, Capstan, Dubonnet and Campari under licenses. But following that green light, the company got into action and came up with some of today’s biggest brands, Seaman’s Schnapps, Regal, Bacchus and Lord’s Dry Gin.
“So, those were benefits of inward looking strategies, which were pressured by the environment. Such innovations cut across industries and sectors,
“2017 has also shown us a lot of inward looking insights. Even though it wasn’t this year, we had long anticipated this.
“The alcohol manufacturing plant came in handy because of foreign exchange. It helped us a lot to weather the storm. Again a number of our inputs which were being sourced from abroad were now sourced locally; this gave us the insight and encouraged us to look inward.
“I can tell you today, when you compare December 2017 and December 2016, a lot more of our inputs were sourced locally than it was, because we still have to deliver value to the consumers without compromising.
” I know brands in this market that reduced the input so that they can still sell at the same price. But we said no, we will give consumers what we promised. We are consistent and that is what we do. 2017 really gave us an opportunity to look inward.”
Speaking on the forward in 2018, he pointed out that, players and government have to be to be proactive.
He said, “They follow the consumers. We have been following the consumers, anticipating what their next move would be. Lord’s Gin, as one of our brands, has been there but when we saw what was happening, we did what we needed to do in 2016. Right now, it is one brand that is firing on all cylinders.
“Similarly, we just introduced Naija Café Rum, which connects perfectly with the millennial consumers and what the youth of today are doing.
“The consumers out there continue to see value and we continue to anticipate them. Always thinking ahead what is the next thing? Today, brand’s loyalty has disappeared; there is no such thing as loyalty unless you are able to keep the consumers, anticipate them, offer them what they want and in the right format.
‘Back in those days, probably we would have started with a big bottle instead of coming in sachets and in a 9cl formats. Today, it’s a different game; give them the value, anticipate what their need is and surprise them beyond their expectations”.
Speaking on adulterated products, he stressed that, it is a matter of choice.
“You have to be careful. The issue of faking and adulteration transcend the economic hardship and it somehow transcends Nigeria. We have people faking dollars. This challenge is a little bit higher now than it was.
“The challenge for us is to continue to project the original brands that we have and connect with the consumers in the kind of form and presentation -sizes and format that they want.
” For example, a consumer may want to take Seaman’s for its quality and not for prayer or pouring libation. So, he doesn’t need the big bottle.
“You must connect with the consumers by giving them the small pack sizes and still deliver that quality and continue to ensure availability. Fakers are sure to try but make sure the original is available”.
He added that “You must also collaborate with credible regulatory agencies, NAFDAC, CPC and Nigerian Police to raid the markets. The truth is that in some markets, consumers know the original from the fake.
“For instance, if you go to the eastern part of the country and you want to buy Bacchus, the sellers would ask you if you want number 1 or number 2. So, in some instances you would do what you can do but if consumers decide that they want to buy fake, there might be little you can do”.
According to him, “That is not to say the innocent consumers must not be protected. We have been doing a lot of reforms, deploying innovative marketing and technology to protect our brands and consumers”.
Stories by Godwin Anyebe