This article is a section from a report “Investing in Nigeria” and shall be viewed in the context of the title. Please view the report for more information on the subject as well as references for this article.
Nigerians are very fashionable people and highly brand loyal – 70% of Nigerians are brand loyal. International brands are so popular among Nigerians that Debenhams has been known to put up signs in Hausa language in their Oxford Street store. Some Nigerians make shopping trips to London every 6 months.
In the interviews for this report, many interviewees empathized the fact that it’s not just the population that’s a driver for investment returns, it’s the people themselves. Nigerians are very fashionable, they follow trends and bring them to Africa. Everyone wants to have the latest iPhone or other trending smartphone. Nigerians have a tendency to buy popular brands even if it puts a financial burden on them – it’s all just to have the perceived experience.
Nigerians are very emotional people, brands need to have a social face and a giving back outlook to gain empathy from Nigerians. This works as an entry barrier for the multi-nationals – you need to spend a lot to gain that empathy and recognition. A brand has to support everything Nigerian to develop a social face and a place in Nigerian hearts. Once Nigerians find a brand they like they stick with it. The brand can charge premiums and raise its prices significantly – Nigerians will still buy its produce.
There is a huge demand for lifestyle and luxury brands from the middle class. The middle class is quite big in Nigeria – 23% of the 181 million population. This has made the market very attractive for international brands.
International brands are perceived as more prestigious than domestic brands. It’s seen as a sign of status to sit down and drink a Heineken or Guinness instead of a domestic brand. The kind of brands demanded vary across all sectors – from prestigious fashion brands to fast food restaurants. There are 17 KFC restaurants in Nigeria.
Nigeria has the world’s biggest religious rate, with 95% of the population being religious. Even sensitive industries such as gambling can find their way into the markets by good PR campaigns and efforts – it’s all about how something is perceived.
Gaming on mobile phones is not viewed as gambling, but rather as a fancy activity. You go somewhere to gamble, you don’t take your phone out to gamble. It’s perceived different as going to a local house to play a game like bingo. Mobile gaming is successfully marketed as a lifestyle choice.
The instant noodles were first not common at all in Nigeria, they were viewed as alien products. It took 20 years and instant noodles are now considered one of the most popular food in Nigeria.
The highly religious population, the different ethnical and religious groups, are accounted for in marketing strategies and generally at running businesses in Nigeria. Even on a political level – the PDP always had a Muslim president and Christian vice-president, and vice versa.
Cultural, religious and social incongruity remains agents of diversity rather than unity. There have been instances of top level business executive’s religious and ethnical background being matched with that of the region the company operates in. To a lesser extent, the executives must talk the local language. This adds to the problems many businesses in Nigeria face – finding and recruiting operating talent.
The PR activities of an industry are often times also at promoting a favourable view for a regulation to be passed.
There is a lot of demand for advertising, it’s a growing industry with many innovations available. Mobile advertising is especially popular. Many fashion brands are operating by the e-commerce channels, brands such as Calvin Klein, Diesel, River Island, Adidas, Zara, Forever 21, H&M, Topshop, Guess, Bulgari and Gucci are available in the e-commerce sites.
Nigerians have money, it’s available to be spent and they are willing to. Some Nigerians that earn a little over £100 a month are carrying 3 mobile handsets. Anything can sell in Nigeria, it’s a question of harnessing that growth and finding a way into it.