Consumer trends open opportunities for Nigerian manufacturers
Going back in time, Hypo, as a bleaching product, was considered primarily for clothes. By 2020, it had been repurposed as a disinfectant for surfaces as awareness increased in curtailing the spread of coronavirus. It is one of several consumer products that have been adapted to other uses over the years, some, for much longer than others.
This could create opportunities for manufacturers in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods space (FMCG) if they start looking towards the direction of these products.
Although the high inflationary environment forced manufacturers in the FMCGs industry to be innovative by transforming their products into smaller packages at cheaper prices, producing products that can serve more than one function. Also, products that can also give them added advantages such as increasing market share, helping to build brand loyalty, closeness to the customers and strengthening innovative thinking by manufacturers.
“It is a big phenomenon that manufacturers and marketers are not paying attention too. It is about identifying the value-adding ones and looking for strategies to also engage those other ones effectively because behind every form of creative consumption, there is an innovation waiting to happen,” Uchenna Uzo, consumer/retail expert and faculty director, Lagos Business School, says.
For Africa’s biggest economy, declining incomes and rising prices have forced consumers to save money by spending on products, especially household ones that serve multiple uses.
For example, David, a banker not only uses his local dishwashing liquid soap for dishes but also for the general cleaning of his house and clothes. “In the past, I would buy different items for things, but now I buy an item that can serve more than one purpose,” he says.
Examples of some household items that can be used for different purposes other than intended use are:
Vinegar is not only useful for cooking but unknown to many it serves as a great cleaner and disinfectant because it is made from acetic acid. The acidic nature of vinegar is strong enough to dissolve mineral deposit, dirt, grease, and grime and also kill bacteria.
Thus, making it a cheap product that can be used to clean the home, make health and beauty products, get rid of pests, kill weeds, and wash the car, among countless other household uses.
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Non-gel toothpaste, which is usually white and milky in colour, is not only meant for brushing our teeth but it can also be used as a cleaning product for shining, deodorizing, and cleaning up household mess e.g. cleaning sinks, keeps bathroom mirror from fogging up, etc.
Olive oil, a liquid fat obtained from olives, a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin, can be used for other things other than cooking. For example, it can help to remove eye makeup, moisturise skin, serves as a shaving cream substitute and dust wooden furniture.
Used tea bags
When done soaking, perhaps black or green tea bags, they do not just have to be thrown away, as they can be used for eye treatments e.g. puffy eyes. These teas have lots of caffeine and tannins that have the ability to shrink and tighten living tissues like human skin.
Tannic in black tea can also serve as a polishing agent that gives a new shine to wooden furniture and flooring and tea leaves rich in nitrogen make it suitable as fertilizer.
Hypo, a bleaching agent packaged in sachet and plastic, helps whiten, remove stains and kill germs. It is a multi-purpose bleach used to wash clothes, clean toilets and bathrooms.
A 2005 article about the future of innovation, ‘The rise of the creative consumer’ published by The Economist explained that some companies rely on identifying and leveraging the innovation potential of creative consumers. However, many companies may feel threatened or upset by the actions of creative consumers.
Creative consumption is a case where consumers use a product or service in their own way to meet their consumption, unlike the way it was anticipated or intended by producers.
For Damilare Asimiyu, a senior analyst at Afrinvest Securities Limited, human wants are limitless but the resources are limited.
“So, it will be very good to have products that can serve many purposes. That is where the world is shifting too,” he said, noting, “Efficiency is very important and commodities that serve many purposes are what everybody is looking forward to getting for years to come, given that prices are on the rise.”
Damilola Adewale, a Lagos-based economic analyst, says the middle- and low-income consumers are trying to be judicious in their spending and thus advises manufacturing companies to constantly move towards consumers’ needs at this point in time so that they will use the outcome to design their products.