• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Nigeria’s oldest fast-food chain in fresh push for market share

Nigeria’s oldest fast-food chain in fresh push for market share

Nigeria’s oldest fast-food chain is making a fresh attempt to stage a comeback amid growing competition in the industry.

Mr Bigg’s is rebranding its business and expanding menu offerings to woo new and old customers in a bid to regain market share.

“Enjoy Asun @discounted price, freshly baked snacks & Chop Up meals from N900, drinks, gift items and more @ our reopened store, 2 CMD road Magodo store (along the express),” the company said in a text message sent to a customer who used to patronise the outlet before it was shut down.

This latest development, as observed by BusinessDay, means Mr Bigg’s is trying to catch up with competitors such as Chicken Republic, Sweet Sensation and Tasty Fried Chicken (TFC), which are also rebranding.

Uchenna Uzo, a consumer expert and faculty director at Lagos Business School, said the fast-food company is trying to inform consumers that they are back in the market.

“Rebranding is a signal that you are open to innovation and new things. And what it does for those who have fallen out of the market is to acquire fresh customers, develop new varieties and to demonstrate that they are responsible for the feedback from customers,” Uzo said.

He said this will make people try out the new Mr Bigg’s. “Although I am not sure if this will make them stay in the market but from the customers’ acquisition dimension, they are likely to get new customers and some old customers back.”

Rebranding is seen as a good way for any business to stimulate growth, expand, increase profits, strengthen its workforce, and gain a competitive advantage. It is also important in creating market differentiation, reaching new audiences as well as updating and adding to a growing brand.

“It is an attempt for them to create that improved brand appeal and fight back a bit of market share because if you remember, they were the pioneers of fast food restaurants in the country,” said Ayorinde Akinloye, an investor relations analyst at Seplat Energy Plc.

Akinloye said the rebranding exercises and massive discounts can only appeal to their customers in the short term. “What keeps them in the long run is the quality and affordability of their meals.”

When Mr Bigg’s opened its first restaurant in 1986, it was greeted with fanfare by patrons who crowded the eatery for a taste of the difference it brought to the food industry on Lagos Island where local food vendors, popularly called ‘mama-put’, held sway.

Though only a limited menu of pastries, beef, chicken and apple pies, sausage rolls, doughnuts and beef burgers was available then, compared to the extensive menu currently on offer, yet the restaurant was always fully booked.

But harsh economic conditions and poor management, among other issues, led to the shutdown of some of its outlets across Nigeria.

Read also: Nigerians to brace up food crisis on insecurity, flooding, says Kuteyi

Before the rebranding exercise, its outlets used to be quiet with few customers having one or two salespeople. The menu was also still the same, prices increased and presentation poor; hence customers turned to trendy brands and outlets.

When asked about possible reasons for the low turnout of customers, an anonymous staff attributed it to management’s inability to listen to customers, rebrand and spice the menu from time to time.

Muyiwa Kayode, a Lagos-based brand expert, said some brands need to constantly innovate because of the kind of services or products they offer, and the fast-food restaurant falls into that category.

“All they need to be in business is to periodically introduce something new in terms of recipes, products, services and even presentations,” Kayode said.

According to him, innovation does not mean that you should change what your brand stands for but constantly make it relevant to your audience.

“Even if you are not introducing a new product, you can offer your existing products in a new way so that people do not switch off,” he said.

The Association of Fast Food and Confectioners of Nigerian estimates that the Nigerian food industry is worth over N1 trillion and is also one of the best-performing industries in the country.

Apart from rebranding its image and menu offerings, Mr Bigg’s also joined Chicken Republic and Sweet Sensation in 2019, in setting up Express kiosks, a part of their marketing strategy to boost sales and improve customer service.

“If you look at the demography of those who are patronising these small kiosks, they are within the age group of 16 and 30-something years. So, all brands have to go that direction,” Wale Abioye, a manager at Sweet Sensation, said.

It also introduced combo packs, a combination meal that typically includes food items and beverages.

The packs started with the Chicken Republic and TFC in 2016 when Nigeria was hit with an economic recession with significant impact on consumers’ wallets.