By Princewill Ekwujuru
THE revolution and product segmentation taking place in the diaper market has taken a toll on some major absorbent hygiene manufacturers, forcing them to begin to play at the lower end of the market.
Investments in infrastructure development by locals and foreign companies with subsidiaries in Nigeria, increasing urbanisation and population explosion have also been identified as responsible for the growth across a number of consumer goods, particularly absorbent hygiene products.
The multinationals are considering Nigeria as one of their key markets in Africa, primarily due to the huge market size, which they see as attractive and ready-made for absorbent hygiene. However, the Nigeria market has over 15 diaper brands jostling for dominance nationwide, while some have emerged top of the mind brands with national spread, some are confined to regional play.
In Nigeria, within retail absorbent hygiene; Diapers, nappies and pants is the largest category by value and volume, Vanguard Companies and Market,(C&M) can authoritatively reveal.
Competition in the market
The rising demand for these products according to C&M findings was occasioned by the boom in population which resulted in out-right marketing battle that has caused a neck-to-neck competition in the market, thus resulting in the innovation war in the industry.
Nigerian subsidiaries of some multinationals in this market such as Procter and Gamble, P&G (makers of various pamper brands, like Pampers, Pampers Baby dry, Swaddlers sensitive and cruisers dry) and Hayat Kimya (makers of Molfix) as well as Wemy Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of Dr. Brown, Huggies, produced by Huggies Nigeria and other fringe players like Cuddsies diaper, produced by Rainbow Fame Industries, RFI, Taiwan, imported into the country, Tourjour among others.
The diaper market in Nigeria appears to have entered ustre competition with retailers breaking down units to a level where consumers buy three diapers for N150. This, C&M gathered, has put pressure on the market leaders like P&G, Huggies and Hayat, who said they cannot compromise on quality because of the competitive strategies of fringe players in the market.
A distributor at Balogun market in Lagos Island who is the Managing Director of Twinkle Babies Stores, Mrs. Eunice Ighodalo, said that the competition taking place in the diaper market is hitting hard on premium brands, adding that the segmentation trend has forced manufacturers and consumers alike to begin to play at the low end of the market. Corroborating C&M’s findings, Princess Nwokennaya of Empress Stores, at Article market, opposite Trade Fair Complex in Lagos, said fringe brands have broken the market into smaller units, where consumers buy three piece of diaper for N120, which is resold by roadside store owners for N150, while those of leading brands are sold N100 for a single diaper (N300 for the three units).
According to her, the 3-in-1unit sales are not produced by the manufacturers, but by the roadside store owners who, by their own creation sell them in units to those who cannot afford the mega box diaper (that is 128 in a roll), which sells for N9,000 to N10,000, the 60 in a roll which is N2,000 to N2,700 or that of N1,550 worth.
Another distributor, Magnus Njikoka-Ibe, of Trendy Kids and Stores Enterprises, also in Balogun market, Lagos Island, noted that the new competition in the diaper market is caused by the hard economic environment, coupled by the increasing population.
According to him: “If you notice, Nigerian women are very fertile, particularly the Western Nigerian women, all gave reason to the rising demand for the product.”
According to Mrs. Aderonke Anjorin, “when I was pregnant I had a baby shower and I got some gifts which included a pack of Huggies. I thought the little Huggies diapers were so cute. Then my sister said “this our baby is Huggies baby oh”. It got me thinking, how is my baby a Huggies baby? I told her I had several packs of Pampers diapers I was given earlier, in fact, I had so many that they filled a big cupboard.
“A friend ones told me to forget Huggies because; Huggies is hard to find. It is just better to use Pampers. Those were the only reasons she gave. What were the reasons the Huggies camp gave? Huggies babies were more “Posh” was a thing of class. Huggies babies don’t get diaper rash. I was advised to use both diapers interchangeably i.e use Huggies for one week, then use Pampers for two weeks, but I have not really had time to be switching it up like that, my child is only 2 months old. Being a new mommy this made me confused. The Huggies and Pampers fans did not make it easier because they were really battling it out.’’
A further probe reveal that besides children diaper, the use of adult diapers sale is also on the increase occasioned by persons who have Type 2 diabetes and fistula (VVF), according to C&M findings. Meanwhile, as a result of these factors, P&G, Hayat and Huggies have not only deployed the direct marketing tactics and market penetration strategy to reach their target market, the market on its own has broken the barrier of segmenting the market themselves, according to C&M findings.