High quality products strategically placed with appropriate shelf real estate in mind, is no longer a guarantee that consumers will commit their hard earned money to our products. These products, which seemed essential in their pantries and homes a few months ago, are being completely delisted or sometimes reduced in quantity from their shopping lists. On a parallel level, retailers and shops are now more than ever seeking the highest margin return on goods, even as margins continue to shrink.
As marketers and businesses, it appears that consumers are snubbing our products on the shelves despite the different promotional strategies that companies employ to keep them engaged. The trade is also not in a hurry to increase the stock as off take is slow. The opportunity for new product introductions is even more precarious.
This situation reminds me of many stories in Nigerian folklore where the village bride has many suitors coming to woo her with gifts. Some claim to be strong at wrestling bouts; others claim to be great hunters and the others, successful farmers. The bride rebuffs most of the advances of her suitors and finally settles for the most sincere of the suitors. In the stories, the bride seldom accepts suitors who over-promise a good life or those whose prowess had not been tested in the village.
Is this the case with our consumers and our products?
The open markets are awash with retailer promotions: for example,
- Buy two cases of products and get a pouch free
- Display products and win some gifts
- Win a trip to Dubai (a favourite Nigerian destination)
- Scratch and win air time
With the number of electronics and household items the retailers get from companies they should be opening their own electronic stores by now. In the stores as well, consumers are not escaping the promo carrots dangling from every corner in the shop aisles. In another breath, telecoms are offering free airtime, free Internet access, houses and so on.
Companies need to take a step back and ask the following questions:
- Could all of these be overwhelming for the consumer and trade?
- Are they simply having fun at our expense?
- Will they remain our loyal consumers or traders after this frenzy of promos?
- Did the consumer and trader get their gifts as you promised?
- Did your brand ambassadors treat the consumer with respect and courteousness?
- Did the consumer enjoy the products they bought?
The derived ROI and flawless execution of these promos is determined by the in-depth understanding of the consumer’s needs and the ability to align business objectives with those needs. This would be reflected in the product quality and the relevance of the gift offering.
Some businesses are maximizing the opportunities of their promos to increase sales uplift. Are these promos sustainable within the lean marketing budgets? Promos appear to be a more long-term strategy, which poses the question, where is the role of sustainable brand building in the short term? If the Nigerian oil price does not witness an up swing and the government is not able to quickly close gaps in the economy it appears that the current perspective to using promos to boost sales in the short term will have to change. A more sustainable approach to brand and business sustenance will have to be sort for.
Are consumer and trade promos really sustainable in the medium term?
Author: Iquo Ukoh