Are Nigerian consumers ready for good cooking oil?

by | October 18, 2013 12:00 am

Bisi Farinre, a 37-year-old woman who lives in Olodi Apapa in Lagos with her four children is a hairdresser with a monthly income of about N35, 000. Her husband Bayo brings in N42,000 every month working as a driver to a senior bank manager on Lagos Island. School fees and rent take up the bulk of their income. When she goes to the market to buy ingredients for food, low prices are top on her mind.

 PZ Cussons, in partnership with Wilmar, one of the two leading firms in the world in cooking oil production, to create PZ Wilmar, the company that makes the Mamador Cooking Oil in Nigeria.

 Hence, the upwardly mobile Nigerian women have long ago migrated to branded well-packaged vegetable oil in place of decanted loose oil. PZ Willmar is going for the bull’s eye by appealing to the 85 percent  of the market who are left behind to make this transition to hygienically packaged oil.

 Mamador’s entry into the market is quite intriguing. The product is presented in an exquisite and even exotic pack, with a variant coming in an innovative pouch. This would suggest that it is targeted at wealthy Nigerians who buy the range of imported cooking oils in supermarkets rather than Farinre in Olodi Apapa. Yet, PZ Wilmar has engaged in populist marketing, doing activations in low-income areas of Lagos and the South West.

Another advertising practitioner, Folake Phillips suggests that this is not unusual for brands – that the strategy of the designers of the brand architecture is to make Mamador appeal to higher income Nigerian women and make them abandon the foreign brands they currently buy and also “tempt” lower income women to desire to give the quality and assurance which the brand is promising to their families.

 According to Philips, the fragmentation of the media, especially with the advent of social media, allows brands like Mamador oil to implement this sort of two-pronged strategy very well, spreading the “only the good gets in” message to the masses via BRT buses and the like while it also engages better –off targets on social media and pay television. The branding consultant thinks PZ Wilmar is making a sensible bet with its $64 million investment and marketing strategy, noting how Nigerians shifted from buying “ice-water” packaged at home in small “nylon” bags to buying factory made “pure water” and bottled water. A similar shift is the retailing of cubes of sugar in small quantities, a practice which has given way completely to smaller packs of sugar brands targeting the low-income.