A lot has changed within the ‘Relaxed’ and ‘Natural’ hair space, since the advent of healthy hair movement trend was embraced from the U.S – Europe – Africa – Nigeria. This movement has given birth to indigenous entrepreneurial creations as well as varied brands, being imported into the country and largely sold in Trade Fair market, ASPAMDA – Lagos.
While indigenous brands are produced in small batches, imported brands are produced in large volumes. Its’ funny how the universe places you in the midst of trends as they evolve. Due to fluctuating market indices largely determined by the current value of the $USSD, imported brands are largely premium positioned in the marketplace.
When you juxtapose the price index vs socio-economic classification of the Nigerian female consumer, about 1% of the populace can afford these brands. Where does that leave consumers on the Value for Money /Low hanging fruit? You might possibly suggest indigenous brands, but the problem is ….premium price positioning as well. The brands I have seen within the N500 – N1,500 segment, have quality issues in terms of product separation. I will explain how this affects shelf offtake in other future post.
Back to the case of imported brands. If you love organic, natural brands and prefer paraben, sulphate free products such as Shea Moisture, Aunt Jackie’s, Camille Rose, T.G.I.N, E’TAE Natural, Eden Bodyworks, Jane Carter, Kinky Curly, Kurlee Belle, Hairveda, Mielle Organics, Miss Jessie’s, Taliah Waajid, you’re in good company. While embracing organic is great, do consider the the following tradeoff:
- It takes a minimum of 2 – 3 months to import a 20ft container into the country. You require an extra 1- 2 months to clear and move the goods to your warehouse, before sales can commence.
- Depending on how long the date of manufacture was, the importer would have lost extensive man days to bureaucratic process. By the time the product hits the stores, shelf life remaining might be 3 – 6 months left.
- This import investment value range within $100K – 200K, depending on the product mix.
- Manufacturers do not produce new products, basis fresh orders from prospective/existing distributors. Orders are replenished basis existing stock inventory, irrespective of manufacture dates.
To recoup time lost, importers have devised a means of wiping off the manufacturer and expiry dates from the bottles/jars. The sale staff has been trained on beguiling shoppers with long tales, of how these products have been tweaked, for the African marketplace. It’s all B.S. Once you walk into a store or marketplace, and can’t find the dates on the products, please drop the product and search for something else.
You might say, ‘what if the importers can emboss the manufacturing/expiry dates on the bottles/jars?’. Yes, you do have a point. But, does this practice currently exist in the marketplace? No it does not. Then, what is the norm? The norm is to wipe off the dates and sell the products sans dates. Embrace brands with clear listed dates whether they are indigenous or imported, depending on your wallet share. Please do not think this is done manually. There are innovative products and tools in the market that can do a beautiful job of this.
Do not be fooled by the pretty display of ‘Shea Moisture’ & ‘CANTU’ on the shelves at Trade Fair. These are brands with low offtake due to its’ premium positioning. Distributors have a field day doctoring the evidence required to influence your purchase decisions.
How do I know all of this? Let’s just say I have access to data, actual market visits and indices relating to this sector. I keep myself informed.
Take proper precautions when shopping offline!