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Batteries: Increased differentiation stimulates growth, stirs competition

By Princewill Ekwujuru

The availability of variety of battery brands across different sizes, capacities  and designs for consumers have led to growth in the battery market and battle for market share.

The increasing number of cars, heavy duty vehicles especially in several large cities, such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja also offered expansion opportunities for the growth of the battery industry, leading to continuous battle for market share.

The growth is also enhanced by  the increased use of torchlight and microphones, especially by security personnel, religious organizations, schools and other gatherings, which created opportunities for differentiation, among competing brands.

Another growth factor  is new generation of power generating sets, which use batteries for start-up;     fire alarm gadgets, church and door bells.

Other factors are Nigeria‘s epileptic power supply, rise in inverter producers and small business owners that buy batteries to power their businesses.

These developments have also helped battery producers both local and foreign to strengthen their foothold in the market.

In order to get a hold on the market, the producers resorted to manufacturing of various sizes,  capacity and designs of batteries for different income bracket.

The increasing volume of imported second hand batteries for cars and heavy duty vehicles which were not in large quantity some years back has also contributed to battle for market share in the sector.

The battery market is comprise of automotive batteries   (cars and heavy duty vehicles),    Inverter batteries,   household batteries   (for wall clocks, door bells etc.)  \and Generator batteries   (for ignition of   generators).

Some of the foreign battery brands competing for consumer attention are, Exide, Solite, TMG, Diamond,   Inciaku and Hugel Rocket, Dongah and Mercury, Apex, Arnold and Visca Power, for automotives   and others.

The local contenders are, Luminous batteries, produced by Luminous Nigeria, Lagos;   Kenstan,   manufactured by   Kenstan Design Tech,   Anambra State; Dimap Batteries, produced by Dimap Nigeria Limited, Lagos; TFP Batteries and    manufactured by      TFP Nigeria Limited.

Competing for market share in the inverter battery market are;   Sukam, Luminous, Gaston, Quanta,     PRAG and Vision.

In the household segment are Ultralife, Ultrapro, Tiger head, Panasonic, Empower, Kolors,   Everready,   GP ultra, Sony and a few others.

Vanguard  Companies and Markets, C&M  findings  revealed that the producers depend on the already existing distributors’ network to reach their target market audience which include retailers and unit sellers.

Findings by  C&M    showed that the various types of batteries have their peculiar problems in spite of their recommended life span.

Consumers’ reaction

C&M  finding also show that majority of the consumers’  have preference for different battery brands whether for cars, heavy duty vehicles, household and or for generators.

A consumer, Able Orosaye said:   “My friend did an experiment on which battery would last the longest, Energizer, Duracell, or Everready, Tiger head, Empower, and Energizer lasted the longest.”

Contrarily, another consumer, Rufus Onyeneke said:       “I have used Duracell and I think it is much better than Energizer. Do not get me wrong, Energizer is great.   Duracell produces way better alkaline batteries than Energizer does.”

Bill Panamo, a consumer, stated,  “Never heard of the company behind Panasonic. Panasonic is a really good company for pretty much everything they make. Panasonic are half as cheap as Duracell and Energizer and performs just as well. The alkaline series is great for heavy use. The alkaline are awesome for game controllers they will last for days.”

Other consumers indicated preference for Tiger head, Empower which they said are for the mass market, affordable and serve their purpose.

Distributors speak

For vehicle batteries, a distributor, Eze Omengboji of Danzioga Ventures, Ikeja, Lagos, who has been in the battery business for over 22  years said:   “Complete nomenclature for battery will fully specify the size, chemistry, terminal arrangements and special characteristics.

The same physically interchangeable cell size or battery size may have widely different characteristics; physical interchangeability is not the sole factor in substitution of batteries,”  he stated.

Another  distributor, Umeh and Bros, Ladipo market, Mushin, Lagos, said:    “Diamond, Exide, Solite and TMG are selling well. Others do, depending on the product the customer wants, the size and voltage.”

For inverter batteries, a distributor in Ikeja, Lagos who is in partnership with one of the brands and  does not want  her name mentioned in print  said: “Sukam is preferred by customers,  except for now that Luminous is coming into the market noticed.”

For household use, Energizer, Duracell and Tiger head batteries are said to be doing well according to Matthews Ventures, a mini distributor.

Expert speaks

According to an expert, Ijeoma Okereke-Ugah,  “The terminal voltage of a battery cell depends on the chemicals and materials used in its construction, and not on its physical size. For example, primary (non-rechargeable) alkaline batteries have a nominal voltage of 1.5 volts. Rechargeable nickel cadmium (NiCad) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) typically output 1.25  volts per cell. Devices intended for use with primary batteries may not operate properly with these cells, given the reduction in voltage.

Dry Leclanche (carbon-zinc), alkaline and lithium batteries are the most common modern types. Mercury batteries had stable cell terminal voltages around 1.35 volts. From the mid-1990s, mercury batteries were made in many consumer and industrial sizes. They are no longer available since careless disposal can release toxic mercury into the environment. They have been replaced in some applications by zinc-air batteries, which also produce 1.35 volts.

The full battery designation identifies not only the size, shape and terminal layout of the battery but also the chemistry (and therefore the voltage per cell) and the number of cells in the battery. For example, a CR123 battery is always Li-MnO2  (‘lithium’) chemistry, in addition to its unique size.“


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.