By Princewill Ekwujuru &Chinenye Chianumba
Pressure on consumers’disposable income and rising prices of milk brands as well as quest for additional value on milk products may have forced leading brands in the market into dynamic product changes.
This development has heightened battle and quest for market shares among major producers of low fat milk such as Promasidor Nigeria Limited, PNL, makers of Miksi milk, Friesland Campina Wamco, manufacturers of Three Crowns milk, TG Arla, producers of Dano milk, Nutricima Limited, makers of Nunu milk, Sosaco Nigeria, manufacturers of Jago milk, Givanas Nigeria Limited, makers of Luna low fat milk and Ranona Nigeria, marketers of Blue boat milk, for leading positions in the market.
Also other foreign milk brands that have helped to stir up competition in the market include Darigold, Organic Valley, Kerry Gold, Marvel, Regal, Oldenburger and a few others the dealers assume as making impact.
However, strong competition has also come with a wide range of the brand repositioning activities including smaller pack sizes, generous discounts and promotional sales.
Most manufacturers are now positioning their products on consumers’ health consciousness (low cholesterol for instance) while paying attention to product repackaging and availability.
Brands produced along these elements of marketing mix are not relenting on their various positions in making price insignificant in the race for increased market share.
The manufacturers have also embarked on promotional drive based on health messages and quality to enhance patronage and acceptance.
Vanguard Companies and Markets (C&M) findings show increased market size premised on the increasing population but only about three of the brands have equally increased market shares, with Miksi, Three Crown and Dano topping the low fat milk market segment, while most of the producers are now fortifying their brands with more vitamins and minerals. They have all moved into small packs while making the sachet packs easier to tear with dotted line perforation.
Dealers, Consumers’ reaction
Of the number of consumers that spoke to C&M most favour Dano, followed by Three Crown, Miksi and Luna. But they are largely low income category of consumers as most of them believe products such as Peak are beyond their pockets.
Speaking, Madam Suliya, a wholesaler at Oyingbo market, said Dano milk sells more, explaining that “its price is lower than other competing brands, but not because of low quality.”
Miss Fatima, who runs a wholesale store in the same market said that there has been a fierce competition between Three Crown, Miksi and Dano milk brands but indicated also that Dano sells more according to her sales book in the last three months.
Mrs Ogunde, another wholesaler, noted that Dano has gained considerable market share because of its low price, but went on to say that Three crown is also making an in-road into the market, probably because of its Three Crown Mum of the year award that has endeared consumers to the brand, particularly women who want to remain trimmed.
A consumer, Mr. Joshua Igun, preferred Miksi stating that it has always been a family milk choice overtime and affordable too, adding, “notwithstanding the economic situation the brand has been realistic in terms of pricing and fortification.”
Speaking a consumer, Mrs. Ijeoma Nnadi, who preferred Three Crowns stated that it is tasty and easily dissolves in hot water and does not congeal, because of its reformulation.
Also speaking, a consumer who gave her name as Mrs Orie declared her preference for Three Crowns, saying it is because of its richness in vitamins and mineral.
The consumers have their misgiving on the three leading brands. They noticed reduction in the net weight of the products, with the refill packages retaining the same grammage on the packs. They attributed the reduction to the economy downturn, a way to recovering part of their operational costs since they could not increase the prices in the face of the economic impact on the consumers’ pockets.
Despite the fact that consumers prefer the leading brands, some complained that one of them tastes like infant milk, which puts them off the brand. Likewise, some consumers said that it does not dilute easily in cold water.
Responding, Head, Legal and Public Relations, PNL, makers of Miksi and other premium brands, Mr. Andrew Enahoro, said “the company complies with all regulatory measures and will never short-change consumers by not declaring the current net weight of its products.” He described Promasidor as “an ethical and responsible” company.
“Even the sachets, which come in multi-layers, are subjected to various extreme weather conditions because we understand and are mindful of the environment in which we operate,” Enahoro stated.
The spokesperson stressed that “Miksi is fat-filled not full-cream milk.” This, he said, was the reason the brand is not as creamy as some others in the full-cream segment.
Also speaking with C&M, Coordinator of Quality Assurance Department, PNL, Bolanle Sabo-Simeon, said very few companies subject themselves to the rigorous quality control processes embraced by the leading provider of high quality food products.
She said no product of the company, including Miksi, has solubility issue. However, she noted that various brands have different instant properties and that the instant property of Miksi is within the specified limit.
According to Sabo-Simeon, Promasidor Nigeria gives its products a shelf life that can stand beyond the best before date based on series of shelf life study that have been carried out
Dr. Kunle Hamilton, CEO of Virgin Outdoor, Public Relations company of FrieslandCampina WAMCO in a signed response, said Three Crowns is positioned as a brand that cares for mums so they can continue to take extra care of the family.
He stated: “As a leading family milk brand, Three Crowns is targeting mothers because they make the buying decisions especially for products that provide nutritional support. This is what Three Crowns stands for supporting healthy mums so they can nurture happy families”.
To consolidate on its market leadership, he added that “Three Crowns intends to build and grow a fitness behaviour where every Nigerian can perform simple routines to keep fit and healthy. “