Nigeria: Edible Oil Producers Compete With Endorsement, Product Fortification

Producers of edible oil (Vegetable oil) have embarked on promotional drive based on the endorsements of Nigerian Heart Foundation, NHF and the Nutritional Society of Nigeria, NSN and products price differentiation to enhance patronage and acceptance.

Other tactics employed to attract patronage include product repackaging, segmentation, fortification and availability.

Competing for market share are major Nigerian edible oil brands such as Sunola Oil, manufactured by Sunseed Nigeria Limited; Grand Oil, produced by Grand Cereal and Oil Limited; Power Oil, from the stable of Raffles Oil LFTS Enterprises; Mamador and Devon King Oil, manufactured by PZ Wilmar Limited, a subsidiary of PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc.Other competitors in the market include Famili Pure Vegetable Oil, Lesieur Pure Vegetable Oil as well as other imported edible oil brands, such as Wesson Canola.

The market is however dominated by five brands namely Sunola Oil, Grand Oil, Power Oil, Mamador and Devon King.These top brands are also playing up some marketing elements such as product segmentation into more affordable smaller sizes, repackaging and availability to enhance consumer attention and acceptance.

Another factor is the endorsement of the products by the NHF and NSN which has also helped to increase competition in the market, especially now that consumers are aware of the heart-friendliness of the products.

The producers have also embarked on health messages based on these endorsements as well as developed new marketing approach to reach their diverse customers, adding attractive packaging, price and Vitamin 'A' to their products.

Price

Price has become very significant as the battle for market share heats-up and prices differ in different market locations. For example, a 3-litre plastic bottle of Grand Oil sells for N2,997; Power Oil sells for N2,480; Devon King for N3,000.A 1litre bottle of Devon Kings Oil sells for between N900 and N1,000; Mamador Oil sells for N870 while Sunola Oil goes for N950. The 5-litre Devon King and Sunola Oil sell at N3,750 and N4,300 respectively.

Also 0.75cl of Grand Oil, Power Oil and Mamador Oil sell for N590, N625 and N850 respectively. Prices for different carton sizes of the vegetable oil brands differ according to market location.

This factor has however pitched the producers against each other, forcing them to scramble for space in the edible oil market.

Vanguard Companies and Markets, C&M, findings revealed that endorsements are now a major phenomenon in the market and have become a tool for brand building. In the last few years,any brand that's worth its name at one time or the other has attracted either a celebrity endorsement or the certificate of a regulatory body.

Consumers' reaction

C&M findings reveal that buying decisions are increasingly being influenced by endorsement of regulatory bodies as well as the 'class' or 'status symbol' factor which induces consumers to patronise premium brands.

A sample of consumers in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Enugu, Imo and Anambra states majorly showed preferences for the five leading brands in the market. Mrs. Ebere Nnakwe, says she prefers Sunola, but alternates with Devon King or Mamador when Sunola is not available or when she makes a quick choice of any of the brands she sights first in the market. Abiola Akanji, says she prefers Devon King, because it has become a household name that has stuck with her, but noted that other edible oil brands in the market are good, especially in light of their endorsement by the regulatory authorities.

Distributor speaks

A distributor, whose store is located at Tejuosho Market, Yaba, who pleaded anonymity, says he sells various edible oil brands. "From my records, the five brands are doing well, even though I have other imported brands in my store that are also doing well. I think this endorsement thing by NHF and NSN has re-inforced the confidence consumers have in Made- in- Nigeria brands, unlike before when we depended on imported vegetable oil,he said.

Experts speak

Speaking on the impact of endorsements on edible oil brands, a nutritionist who works in one of the big hotels in Lagos, but does not want her name in print said: "When it comes from a professional or regulatory body like NHF or NSN, the impact becomes greater. That was what happened recently when NHF awarded Mamador, Power oil, Grand oil, Devon King and Sunola Oil certificates for being standard and recommended them to Nigerian consumers."

On his part, a marketing expert, Joseph Ifendu of Maxim Marketing said: "With endorsements like these, brands elicit more patronage and earn trust and respect among consumers. Brand owners believe that such approval by a celebrity or recognised institution will influence buyers favourably. For example, Kanu Nwankwo endorsing motorcycles and biscuits can influence young men or children who look to him as a role model.

If it is adopted in advertising, it is believed that it will connect with a lot more people than otherwise because people will readily acknowledge the authority of NSN or NHF and the celebrity status of the personality. Such ads work well for products to connect easily with their target segment of the market. "

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