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Sanitary Pad producers square up to market challenges

…P&G, Sankin and friendlies battle for market share

By Princewill Ekwujuru & Yusuf Kazeem

THE influx of foreign absorbent hygiene products into the country has ignited revolution in the sanitary pad market prompting manufacturers to re-align route-to-market strategies, product quality and innovations. 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 Nigerian market has over 12 sanitary pad brands jostling for market share nationwide. While some have emerged top of the mind products with national spread, some play regionally.

Findings: The rising demand for this product, according to Vanguard Companies and Markets, C&M, findings was caused by boom in population. According to the national population census, NPC, 2006 result, women population was 49.06 percent compared to men’s 50.4 percent, which has kept rising over the last 10 years.

Procter and Gamble, P&G, a Nigeria subsidiary, makers of Always and Tampons sanitary brands, Sankin Nigeria Limited, producers of Ladycare brands, Power Hero Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of Joyland sanitary pad, Friendlies Sanitaryware Nigeria Limited, producers of Diva are top contenders in the rush for greater chunk of the market share.

Foreign brands in the market

The foreign brands in the market include Rainbow Fame Industrial Limited, RTF, Taiwan, manufacturers of Lady Sept and Lady Soft brands; Jharkhand, India, manufacturers of  Saathi sanitary pad and others. There is also the reusable menstrual pad market which is not popular in this part of the world. They include Gladrags, Lunapads, Domino  pads,  Charlie banana, etc. However, the sanitary pad market in Nigeria appears to have been fragmented by the entrance of various sanitary pad brands which opened up the market, thus breaking the monopoly earlier posed by Always sanitary pad.

This, C&M gathered, has further put pressure on the market leaders like P&G, Sankin Nigeria and Friedlies Sanitaryware, who promised not to compromise on quality,but rather upgrade to thwart competition by some foreign brands in the market.

Consumers: A consumer, Ms. Adenike Adeleke, said: “Like most Nigerian ladies, my brand has always been Always ultra super pack for obvious reasons. She complained that the new Always is too flat when spread with wings open. “I felt like I was not wearing anything and may be P&G thought they are doing Nigerian women a favour by making lighter pads but truthfully I derive my comfort from knowing I am well protected and if I wanted a thinner sanitary towel, many options abound in form of panty liners.

“P&G got rid of that embarrassing noise that sounds   like one is wearing a pant made with polythene bag but that was not enough compensation coupled with the price increment.” Another consumer, Mrs. Rose Ndubueze, who indicated preference for Ladycare, said, “before now Ladycare used to be short, when it was short, it leaked, you would always check yourself. Now that it is longer in length, it makes it more durable, it now holds better as a result of the length, with the length now, there is no tendency for leakage.”

Corroborating Ms Adeleke, Mrs. Emmanuella Makinwa who uses the pads interchangeably said, “Always is too thin or flat, it fills up quickly and makes one uncomfortable, it may be good for some people, likeness differs, for me it is too tiny.”

A distributor, Mr. Segun Oladuti, at Ikotun market, Lagos said, “most of the brands are known to have the same quality. Always Ultra  is in high demand at the selling price of N300. After the increase to N450, the market demand fell and customers switched allegiance to Ladycare which costs less.

He also said that when this was noticed by P&G it reduced its price to N300 which has hitherto increased its patronage.  Ladycare, he said, understood the antics of P&G and reduced its price to N250 from N280 which increased its demand”.

Madam Ngozi Chibuzor, another distributor at Ikotun market, Lagos, said: “People are complaining about Always product nowadays because of its quality compared to some other new products.”

According to another distributor also at Ikotun market, Madam Abdul Aishat Gafar, “Always is the most preferred product in the market and has made name, but when the quality became bad, people switched to others.”

Most preferred product

She also said “off the pads which were N60 in the market, majority of consumers preferred Freelite and Diva brands because of their absorbent level and affordable price. But when Freelite became scarce people demand for Diva pads as a substitute”.

Price: C&M findings reveal that there have been price increase across the sanitary brands, occasioned by the economic downturn, Always Ultra which used to sell for N250, now sells for N400 to N450.

Always Classic before now sold for N200, but now sells for N300. Diva used to sell for N180, but now N230. Ladycare earlier sold for N250 now sells for N400, while Tampons also from P&G before now sells for N750, but now sells for N1100.

Manufacturers’ comments: A source in P&G said P&G’s growth and expansion plans for Nigeria are long term. The N300million manufacturing plant in Agbara, Ogun State is a testament to the industrial and infrastructural advancement that P&G is bringing not only to Nigeria, but Africa as a whole.

Likewise, Sankin Nigeria said it is focused on improving its knowledge in menstrual health to serve the target market. We noticed the influx of foreign sanitary pad and decided to build that which improves local content and indigenous growth.”


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