On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, Lagos Business School hosted select marketing and sales leaders from Nigeria’s Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector to an interactive online session.
The session provided a platform to exchange ideas, share insights and support the strategic operations of participating organisations, especially considering the prevalent turbulence in the operating environment.
Conversations were moderated by LBS Faculty of Strategy, Chidi Okoro and began with Managing Director of a market research firm, Milward Brown Nigeria, Ugo Geri-Robert, who was the guest speaker at the session. Geri-Robert delivered a presentation on the changing behaviour of Nigerian consumers in the light of emerging trends in a post-COVID era.
According to Geri-Roberts, Nigerian consumers have become more concerned about their personal finance, health and food security. She explained that consumer engagement on digital media has surged because of the pandemic. Consumers seek new information, and the only way brands can win is by providing this information in the form of solutions for surviving the pandemic.
Geri-Roberts named some brands who are leveraging this new behaviour and needs to deliver unique experiences to consumers. An example is Dano Milk which is providing relief materials to vulnerable neighbourhoods through its Nominate A Neighbourhood campaign. Other examples mentioned are Spar, Heineken Lagos Fashion Week and Maggi. She also advised brands in the FMCG sector to aid equity through corporate social responsibility (CSR) and empowerment schemes for members of their host community. “The crisis has triggered the need to be identified as a purposeful brand, a brand that’s socially responsible, a brand that empowers people”, she said.
Anchored by Associate Professor of Marketing at LBS, Dr Ogechi Adeola, the session was attended by individuals who hold key roles in the intersection of Sales and Marketing in multinationals in the country. They include Commercial and Marketing Director, Procter & Gamble, Mokutima Ajileye; Marketing Director, Unilever, Nsima Ogedi-Alakwe; Sales Operations Manager, Nestle, Olutayo Olatunji; Head of Sales, GSK Consumer, Soji Awotiwon. Others include Country Manager, William Grant and Sons Nigeria, Frances Nwosa; Commercial Director, Nestle, Khaled Ramadan; Vice President, Consumer Development, Unilever, Felix Enwemadu; and Marketing Director and Division Lead – Homecare, Unilever, Bunmi Adeniba.
The executives agreed that brands in the sector need to have a granular understanding of how the pandemic hit different consumer segments. According to Ogedi-Alakwe, “We, as FCMG companies, need to understand what has changed with our consumer’s needs and how our portfolio profitably addresses those needs.” She added that consumers have limited spending capacity this period and brands must take their product quality more seriously to prevent the spread of negative word of mouth for their products.
Contributing his perspective, Nestle’s Tayo Olatunji opined that sales and marketing heads must manage their route-to-market creatively if they do not want to pass the burden of increased production costs to consumers. According to him, it is the responsibility of these managers to ensure that wholesalers, who are essential components of the value chain, are trained to be professional as they are the ones who interact with retailers and shoppers.
The professionalism gap in the sales and marketing sector is what the Lagos Business School Sales Academy aims to bridge. Run by the School’s Sales and Marketing faculty, Dr Ogechi Adeola, Dr Tayo Otubanjo and Vanessa Burgal, the Academy provides salespeople with practical tools required to improve their performance standards and win in today’s competitive market. The Academy has delivered capacity-building sessions to the staff of sector giants such as Nestle and FrieslandCampina Wamco.
Sharing instant feedback from the session, one of the participants described it as “well-handled and very insightful”. The interactive session is the first of its type since Lagos Business School moved its programmes online and the School remains committed to positively impacting the professional standards of business management in Nigeria and Africa.