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Nigerian manufacturers expand operations to meet changing needs

Constantly-changing consumer preference, environmental and global conditions are steering the continuous remodelling of manufacturers’ operations, as they try to match consumer needs and not lose market share.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw households and organisations reviewing living and working conditions, leading to changes in product preference, resource management, and for businesses, services rendered. In the same vein, some manufacturers had to either expand production lines and items to accommodate more products or totally change things they produced, in order for their customers not to ditch them in searching for alternatives. There were others that ventured into new terrains in attempts to fill gaps as they were just opening up.

An example is the Seven-Up Bottling Company, known for production and distribution of beverages in Nigeria. The FMCG company launched the popular 2Sure Hand Sanitizer in May 2020 at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when sanitizers were scarce and becoming expensive to cater to the country’s hygiene needs. The product has within its relatively short period of existence grown to become one of the leading hand sanitizers in Nigeria.

Charity Ilevbare-Adeniji, head of marketing (LifeCare Division), Seven-Up Bottling Company, told BusinessDay exclusively that the brand’s entry into the market was sudden but significant, adding that it enjoyed massive acceptance and patronage from Nigerians.

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“Our products are actually premium but affordable, and this has permitted a wide acceptance of the 2Sure brand among Nigerians. This has also helped us to beat all-comers and long-standing players to become a market leader with over half of the market-share,” Ilevbare-Adeniji said.

According to Ilevbare-Adeniji, with the success recorded with the sanitizer production, the brand is also introducing into the market its medicated anti-bacterial soap in three variants and two sizes as well as its dishwashing liquid in three sizes and two variants. She added that many more life-care products would be rolled out soon.

Similarly, Aba-based Obinna Anoruo, manager at KlotPlanet Global Limited, a large-scale garment manufacturing outfit, who produced garments prior to the pandemic took to producing personal protective equipment (PPE) items on a large scale following consumer’s preference for essential items like PPE, sanitizers, medication, food, vitamins, etc.

“Initially, nobody knew anything about PPE until coronavirus struck, and it became an opportunity and we embraced it,” Anoruo said.

Other firms, who expanded production due to the pandemic outbreak, some are also looking to tap from markets with favourable potentials such as Tolaram Group, the Singapore- based business conglomerate behind several household brands in Nigeria, like Indomie, Minimie, Power Oil, Power Pasta and Hypo Bleach, who ventured into the production of hair products.

Tolaram Group under the brand Lucky Fibres is tapping Nigeria’s fast-growing hair care market worth N457 billion using its Lush hair products.

An employee of Tolaram Group who pleaded anonymity said the brand’s hair production activities started as a result of recycling waste made from the production of carpets and rugs, which is part of Tolaram Group’s activities.

“The idea was to use these wastes to make wool that women use for their hair. It became a huge success and that gave rise to the other line of hair products, which is attachment (Lush Hair) we see in the market today,” he said.

Oriowo Olajumoke, who sells hair products in the popular Aganran Market of Mushin Lagos, said since Lush hair came into the market, people quickly warmed up to the products because they were affordable, fuller than other brands and were available in variety.

Jide Babatope, a Lagos-based consumer goods analyst, said the disruptions brought by COVID-19 changed the dynamics of the operating environment, and thus propelled most organisations to review their product offerings to ensure sustainability and relevance in business.

He also said that FMCGs would try as much as possible to produce various kinds of consumer products, both food and non-food, out of the need to diversify product lines and have multiple revenue streams like 7UP and Tolaram Group.

“For manufacturing firms venturing to other product/service lines, it could be because their existing product lines are not bringing the desired level of revenue, and this might have motivated them to explore other lines of products in order to augment revenue,” he said.

Hello Products Limited, maker and distributor of personal care products, is also keen to expand activities as they aim to combat issues that threaten family health and wellness. Its Tetmosol brand, which is well known for medicated and antibacterial soaps, spread its tentacles into the production of other types of soaps as well as insecticides, liquid antiseptic and hand sanitizers.

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