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Insecticide manufacturers re-positioning to meet changing market challenges

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…Gongoni, Rickett Benckiser, S.C. Johnson battle for market size

By Princewill Ekwujuru

GIVEN the high rate of health concerns, particularly malaria attacks and complaints by consumers, insecticide manufacturers have been devising more ways to win back consumers’ unstable loyalty to their various products.

This is on the heels of market perspective that with a sustained population growth the demand for insecticides that kill both flying and creeping insects are expected to continue to grow.

With emphasis on cleaner environment, hygiene in modern lifestyle and ward-off of home intruders like mosquitoes and other creeping insects, insecticide (insect repellents or killers) industry also expects further increase in demand for products that satisfy these needs.

Consequently, both fringe and major insecticide producers are employing some critical remarketing measures in terms of product innovation and reformulation, direct marketing, repackaging, repricing and availability to drive sales.

Product innovation

Other measures introduced by the manufacturers include the development of new marketing approach, new container designs, in-store displays, and fragrances. These measures have not improved the relationship between the brands and the consumers as patronage to the major manufacturers’ products is dwindling, with some consumers allegiance already switched to fringe producers. Some consumers accuse major manufacturers of not keeping to their brand promises.

Concerns over this issue are thus supporting recent sales growth for home or fringe insecticides producers amidst the purchasing power constraints faced by consumers. There are several insecticide companies and brands in the market which include Gongoni, manufacturers of Rambo, Rickett Benckiser Nigeria, makers of different range of Mortein brands electrically and manually operated insecticide, e.g. Naturgard automatic insect killer, S.C. Johnson Nigeria Limited, producers of various brands of Baygon and Raid insecticides, and Mobil Nigeria, makers of Mobil insecticide and some locally produced mosquito and insects killing products.

For example, Otapia-pia and Snipper, meant for agricultural use, now used in homes, and others with no names and trace of manufacturers. Of this number, three brands, Baygon, Mortein and Raid, have emerged topmost in preference by consumers’ popular demand, which has pitched manufacturers against each other.

Vanguard Companies and Markets, C&M, findings reveal that domestic company, Gongoni, is the clear leader in home insecticides, accounting for majority value share, according to consumers appreciation of the brands based on price and quality. This, C&M confirmed, is chiefly due to the company’s strong lead in spray/aerosol insecticides, where it accounted for a larger share in some of the wholesaler store visited in parts of Lagos and its environs.

C&M also noted that Gongoni is benefiting from its wider range of products and with two strong brands, leading with Rambo having an economy positioning while Baygon from Johnson Wax is positioned as a more premium and value-added brand, followed by Mortein.

Price: There has been price fluctuation in the insecticide market which resulted from leadership tussle amongst leading brands, overthrowing themselves on the store shelf. For example, Mortein odourless costs N650 today, but six months ago it was N600, Mortein Naturgard refill and Naturgard automatic which is an innovation from Rickett Benckiser, sells for N6,000 and N8,500 respectively. Baygon sells for N700, in the last six months it sold for N600, while Rambo sells for N550 now, last month it sold for N600, a price that has endeared it to consumers.

Consumers’ response: C&M chats with some consumers indicated that all the products are likely to be suffering from fakers as while some consumers complain of failure to deliver the require service others say the same product delivered the service, signaling that does that complain of failed service may have bought fake ones.

A consumer, Dotun Abidoye who lives in Okota, Lagos, stated: “I purchased the new Mortein naturgard automatic mosquito repellent mainly because of its television commercial. I had no doubt about the new product because the company is a brand I have trusted over time, but I am sometimes skeptical about buying a new product. To my surprise I discovered the product was not doing what it promised. That night was hell for the family, the children could not sleep, neither my wife nor I, we had to keep vigil.”

Samuel Nzekwe, another consumer said his experience with Mortein naturgard is not what he has to relate, but has changed his mind about the product, adding “that does not mean I will not use any of their products again, they have good brands. ”

Bayo Ogundare, said Rambo is a good brand. “If you get the original, the odour is a little friendly unlike some mosquito spray brands,” he said.

According to Mr. Moses of Honeymoon Hotels, Ajegunle, Lagos, “I use Baygon and Mortein interchangeably, my customers who lodge here never had course to complain of mosquito bites.”

Wholesalers’ response

A wholesaler, nick-named Ayegbajumo, at Alaba rago in Alaba  International market, Lagos-Badagry expressway, said he sells between five to 15 cartons of Rambo a day, Baygon and Raid within same range, while Mortein sells about almost the same number, but said he uses Rambo at home.

Another wholesaler, at Oke-arin market, Lagos Island who wants to remain anonymous said Gongoni lost some market share in overall home insecticides market last year with its Rambo brand suffering low patronage as many price-sensitive consumers traded down to lower-priced economy products, but today its sales are rising, reclaiming its leadership position in the market.

Rickett Benckiser response

Reacting, Funmi Erikitola, Head, Media/Human Resources for JSP Communications, Public Relations company for Rickett Benckiser, RB, countering what consumers said about mortein naturgard stated: “Mortein NaturGard is the insect control system for unique continuous protection against flying and crawling insects, uses latest fine mist technology with natural ingredients to provide long-lasting protection against insects.

“The Automatic Insect Control System will continue to provide a continuous and convenient option to pest control even without electricity. It not only just a combat product but also a preventive one. Gadget releases busts of spray at regular 15minute intervals, lasts up to 4weeks with more than 2,000 sprays for continuous protection.”

She added that “products with less than six months of expiring date are not allowed to leave our factory as such, ensuring ample time for replenishment in trade. In extreme cases, where the store still has products on shelf that are expired, it is required that the retailer returns stock to the distributor, who in turn notifies us and we go and pick up the stock from the DB. Destruction of damaged /expired stocks is supervised by RB quality and government agency.”

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