By Peter Aruoture
I recall a job interview some time ago where having successfully scaled through the processes, I had to meet with the business owner for final talks (usually money matter). In the course of the talk, somehow the conversation veered into cosmetics for men. After much jaw-jaw without agreeing on the financial package for the role, I nonetheless left the interview with the firm resolve to purchase a particular cream to soften my hard looks.
Day and night without fail, I applied the elixir that would bring back my boyish good looks. No instant effects and being a die-hard pragmatist, I figured the results couldn’t be immediate so I persevered for a whole month. Still nothing. To be sure, casually I asked my wife (I had been applying the cream surreptitiously) and still nothing. I had been hoodwinked. It didn’t take long before in silent anger and wrath, I became a rabid spokesperson against the brand. During one of my many sermons testifying against the daylight robbery, I met someone who took me on arguing it took between three to six months for results to manifest. Pause. Could I be wrong? Have I unjustly passed judgement? I had no idea about any timelines; and because I had no calendar to work with, how was I to know the brand could still deliver on its promise?
The turning point in my conversion from advocate to opponent was the post-purchase evaluation period. Simply put, it refers to the consumer behavior of seeking validation from others and self, that the purchase was a good one. It’s the period for determining if the brand delivered as promised or not. The fallout when positive is repurchase on the road to loyalty and when negative, no repeat purchases equally on the way to opposition. Why didn’t the manufacturers just communicate more in line with my expectations?
A similar scenario is playing out today with the newly enthroned government. We the consumers, the citizenry, purchased or voted in the APC brand with the hope a lot of our challenges would be solved. We believed in the brand promise. A lot of Nigerians both home and abroad started believing again in our dear homeland; it seemed a little too good to be true but being Nigerians, die-hard optimists that we are, we slurped it all up. To the cynics, it was like the medicines they sell in molues that have the potency to cure every hue and form of human malaise thrown at it.
The brand promises ranged from rejuvenation of public infrastructure, killing corruption, to even free meals at schools and provision of welfare for the nation’s poorest to whom gratis five thousand naira would seem a mini jackpot. In summary, there was something for everybody; there were benefits for poor and rich alike.
Whilst some or hopefully all of these promises (which you may also refer to as consumer benefits) are tenable, the ruling party is making the same mistake as the facial cream brand by not communicating timelines. The citizens are getting restive because they have been promised a lot and they believe in you but the lethargic waiting for some form of action or visible result is gradually building up to frustration even though it is a mere couple of weeks since the government was inaugurated. For some, the song has already changed but for the steadfast, the belief that the APC would deliver remains resolute. For how long?
The government should get over the unnecessary intra-party wrangling and focus on us, the consumers; after all, the consumer is King. The most critical action for the APC government today is to come out and set time-lines so people can have something to look forward to. That way they would reduce the risk of eroding the goodwill the party. It can be as simple as asking Nigerians not to be too hasty but to wait for the first one hundred days in office before evaluation of their performance. It can be as insignificant as the President announcing his ministers would be sworn in by mid-September or in October or even November. What this would do is to set the minds of the citizenry towards a future milestone and give the government and party the much needed time to put their strategies together.
The spate of terminations in the public and military service though somewhat relevant, does not do much for the average Nigerian. We want to have a better quality of life and though going after corrupt leaders is warranted, it should not detract from the critical aim of bolstering our weakened economy so the multiplier effects of the macro can be felt at the micro level. There is nothing to gain from mudslinging the previous administration because now, we have thrown away the native black soap we used before and got a facial cream to make us look good again. We do not need reminders the black soap was ineffective; that has already been determined.
This is post-purchase evaluation period for the leadership of this government and ruling party. Keep us informed about things that are relevant to our livelihood. Above all, keep your brand promise. That’s all we ask. It is sacrosanct.