On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Dipo Akinwole, a Lagos-based banker went to Shoprite for groceries shopping. While at the stall, he noticed that there were sales representatives or marketers for almost all brands of products displayed at the stall.
These sales representatives were wooing him to patronage their products, which were displayed on each stand.
Just as he was about to get his usual brand of close up toothpaste- Colgate- sales rep approached him and convinced him to buy her product.
This recent development or trend is not only noticed in Shoprite but other retail outlets like Spar, Hullmart, Prince Elbeano etc. Consumer firms like PZ Cussion, Unilever, Nestle, Evans, GSK Nigeria etc. are trying to combat competition using sales marketers.
Charles Igbinidu, MD, CFO and Associates said, “There is some much competition in the market for different products now. In marketing, we say people spend money on brands, not on products. They spend money on brands that they are aware of and can trust.”
“A lot of new products are coming into the market and the marketers are trying to give consumers the opportunity to experience their products so that there will be increased patronage. They are also around the retail stalls to create awareness for those brands and encourage people to make buying decisions in flavour of their products,” Igbinidu further said.
Nikky Oke, a Wawu washing detergent soap sales marketer at Shoprite said that she is trying to increase the patronage of her products by creating awareness and advertising it to consumers.
“The consumers want to more about a particular product like the benefits,” Oke said.
The marketers who usually run in shifts are usually spotted by standing beside or in front of their products.
The weak purchasing power of consumers in the economy is affecting sales in retail outlets and this may have led to the introduction of sales marketers to boost sales and demand.
For example, Shoprite Nigeria recorded its slowest sales growth in years as it struggled to grow sales in an economy battling declining consumer spending.
For the first time, Shoprite Nigeria recorded a single digit increase in sales as turnover grew by only 4 percent in 2018 compared to 50.4 percent recorded in 2017.
According to Ayorinde Akinloye, consumer goods analyst at Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers, the word of mouth is becoming a crucial part of driving sales.
“The bottom line is, there are a lot of product brands in the market today trying to get an edge over others. It now requires not just having wonderful packaging or being cheap, you need marketers who can convince shoppers about your product,” Akinloye said.
“Sometimes, people are undecided about which brand to buy and then walking into the store, they meet a sale marketer who convinced them to try out a particular product and that could just be a new customer for them,” Akinloye further added.
Despite the fact that the Nigerian economy recovered from recession in the second quarter of 2017, per capita income is yet to improve.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), income per head declined nearly by half to $1,994 in 2017 from $3,268 in 2014.
“It is just a way of enhancing their revenue. Usually, marketers sell products manufactured by other organisations. So the more consumers, the more money the stalls make,” Igbinidu said.