By Industrial Digest
Mrs. Oyeyimika Adeboye, the Managing Director of Cadbury Nigeria Plc was the guest speaker at the
9th edition of the UBA Business Series, with
the theme ” Understanding and Leveraging Consumer Behaviour for Business Growth in the COVID Era”.
At the webinar, moderated by Yvonne Anoro, the Cadbury MD, drew from the wealth of experience of her company, a global snacks powerhouse, the following survival tips for small business owners:
◊ First, she said that business owners should not expect that things will get better in 2021, based on facts on the ground.
” We have all learned a lot in the last ten months or so. I think the reality is that we are still in December, and I keep hearing people saying that in January, things will be better.
I wonder what informs that optimism because, right now, we still have the number of COVID cases rising globally, and Nigeria is also seeing an increase in the number of cases. So, thinking about how you run your business in 2021, my first advice is :
Don’t Assume that COVID -19 will be gone in January 2021, and we are back to business as usual.”
Rather, you need to remember that as we started and closed this year, the lessons we learned in this year are the things we should take into next year.
In her words, another reason for cautious optimism is that: ” I keep telling people we operate in Africa; we operate in Nigeria and things change overnight in our market. Here, you go to bed one night, knowing you have made some decisions only to find out in the morning that either the government has made an announcement that the exchange rate has gone up, or something is happening that is not normal in the business environment.”
◊ Second, she said that as we go into 2021, business owners should know that COVID -19 has changed consumers’ behavior.
” The consumers we have this same time last year are not the same consumer we have nowadays, in terms of their buying patterns.
Consumers are prioritizing how they spend their money and are forcing us to rethink how to service them, and how we supply what we give to them to buy. Last year, we had people who buy our products in cartons, but this year, people are buying in units. How do you now market to people who say ” my pocket is changing, and these are my priorities?
These are the first things I would spend my money on before other things.
So, the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industries should redesign how they operate bearing in mind that consumers are why we exist in the first place.”
◊ Third, Use demand to manage your business. If you don’t, you will probably waste a lot of money. So, you will have to use demand to manage what you sell to your consumers, because, you don’t go manufacturing, put it in the warehouse, and then wait for the demand to come. This means that demand helps you to know which product to invest in more.
◊ Fourth, avoid copycatting.
One thing that we are very good at in Nigeria is copycatting. If you find out that someone is selling tomatoes, and they are buying it very well, you would find the whole Street selling tomatoes. Nobody wants to think about what he can sell to complement the tomato, maybe rice, pepper, and seasonings. No, because tomato is the big thing, all of us rush into the tomato business. As a service provider, think through – if company A is producing XYZ, ask yourself, what can I do to complement that successful brand?
Let me use Apple as an example. Most Apple products have accessories, and it is amazing how the whole manufacturing sector has looked at what is it that an Apple phone, Ipad, need that I can provide.?
That’s how we should think. Consumers have so many choices, and you have to make sure that what you are providing is what they want, and is also affordable to them.
◊ Fifth, Use e- commerce. Because of the impact of covid -19, many people can not go to the open markets, and supermarkets to buy what they needed. They don’t want to risks the chance of catching the virus. At Cadbury, we started selling our products on e-commerce platforms such as the JUMIA.
The lesson is, prepare to sell your products through e-commerce. E-Commerce is going to be big whether we like it or not. And the key thing is to know about your customers very well. If you do, it will be easier to plan your strategies.
◊ Sixth, use market data. Unfortunately, market data are not very much available. There are very few authentic market data that you can use to strategy and make important decisions. But from the few that are available out there, take the data and use it to look at what’s happening, understand, think forward, and ask what do I need to do to service my consumers. What are my consumers looking for, what are they spending their money on?
◊ Seventh, Brand Loyalty. If I want people to continue to buy your products, what should I do? And if I know that they don’t have money anymore, I will look at the ways they can still afford my products. So, I will make my products still attractive, affordable, and available. It is what is key to brand loyalty.
All of the time that my consumers have less money to spend, they will buy my products. Sometimes, people want to spend N2000, N1000, on an item, and some people only want to spend N50. This is why in Cadbury, we make Bournvita available in 900grams, 500grams; 20 grams which are sachets
The same thing with our Hot- Chocolate 3-1, the same thing with our candies – Tom Tom, Buttermints, and Cloret chewing gum.
We are very fortunate that our market is a ” Unit – piece” You can buy a piece or a bag; you can buy from kiosks around you, or your neighborhood retail -stores, or the open markets.
◊ Eight, maintain visibility and relevance. You just have to be there all the time to your consumers. As a big business, I have a budget for marketing, but even with my marketing budget, I still have to protect my bottom -line, because, I got shareholders who are expecting something at the end of the year, and I can not tell them that I have spent all the money on marketing. So, you have to balance the two.
◊ Ninth, Use Social Media to connect with your consumers. Be very smart in using social media to connect to your consumers, so that they can see you, understand you, know their brands all of the time. Nowadays, we have so much technology in our hands to use, and I encourage small business owners to use them – Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Yahoo…, to be available all the time to your consumers.
” UBA Business Series was initiated by the bank so that business leaders can come and provide insights to small business owners on the best practices to take their businesses to the next level.”
◊ Tenth, Win Customers ‘ Trust. Do all you can to win your customer’s trust. For example, in Cadbury, I would start with our manufacturing process. Our products are all iconic and the quality of our products is world-class. We don’t compromise quality, and we are willing not to make money if it means compromising quality. We don’t compromise quality. We certified all our suppliers and we go through global certifications to make sure that we comply with not just quality, but the way we do business. That’s important to us and our consumers. We are in the food business, and we don’t want anyone to fall sick consuming any of our brands, and we don’t want anyone to feel cheated consuming any of our brands.”
◊ 11th, be creative. On the sales side, although, we know people can not go out, we are very fortunate to have been one of the sectors that were allowed to carry-on during the lockdowns, we got the permit from the governments – almost all the states gave the Food Beverages, and pharmaceutical, permission to go out, our sales team were able to go through all the doors. We set up WhatsApp advert, WhatsApp call; telesales, e-commerce, we advertised to let people know how they can get our products. We have vans- sales representatives driving from street to street.
We were in every temporary market – the markets that the state government allowed to operate for two to three times in a week, to sell to people while keeping our employees safe as each of them has personal protective equipment. We monitor our crews while looking after our consumers as well.
Earlier, Anoro noted that the UBA Business Series was initiated by the bank so that business leaders can come and provide insights to small business owners on the best practices to take their businesses to the next level.
TexPix Communication, the publisher of Nigeria Industrial Digest Online News platform, was one of the participants in the webinar.
” Although we are a News Service outfit, we attended the event for the first time, to listen, learn, and apply business survival nuggets can help our
very young and struggling organization.
We thank UBA for the training,” said Franklin Alli, Team Leader at TexPix Comm.