By Princewill Ekwujuru
Overtime, the Nigerian market has been flooded with various imported diaper brands, driven by factors including porous border and weak import policy. Some of these imported brands are Luvs, Earth’s best, Honest diapers, Babyganics, Little Angel, Eco-natural, Supreme, Bambo nature, Virony and others.
On the other hand are locally produced brands including Pampers, produced by Procter and Gamble, Molfix, manufactured by Hayat Kimya Nigeria Limited and Huggies, produced by Kimberly Clark West Africa. There are over 16 diaper brands in the market.
The result is a fierce competition among the brands for market supremacy. For 15 years, the Pampers brand dominated and controlled about 100 per cent of the market share before other brands emerged to compete for market share.
Today, the ensuing competition has availed consumers the opportunity to choose alternative brands, especially so when prices and quality of some brands are not satisfactory.
One of the latest entrant, Molfix was able to achieve consumer loyalty through its product segmentation strategy. Molfix, though relatively new and struggling for recognition and market share, infused some features that gave it a competitive advantage.
Pampers is the first diaper ever produced and marketed in Nigeria. The product entered the Nigerian market in 2000. Over the years, the brand has gone through various transformations and brand extensions, but its unique characteristics and market dominance remained the same if not stronger competitively.
Molfix on the other hand, is relatively new in the market. It is not clear when the brand was first introduced into the Nigerian market. However, some distributors of the product said it came into the market in 2016 when foreign exchange crisis triggered price increase for other competing brands. This increase gave Molfix the needed opportunity to present itself as the much-needed substitute through product segmentation.
Huggies on its part entered the Nigerian diaper market in 2015 with much razzmatazz and rattled the leadership of the Pampers brand.
Meanwhile, to find out which brand of diaper is preferred by consumers, Vanguard Companies and Market, C&M, conducted findings in the diaper market,comparing the strength of Pampers, Molfix and Huggies due to their similarities.
This is based on the striking resemblance between the three brands. This resemblance is noticeable in the packaging and production materials.
Since the diaper brands are in different sizes and colours, they use the same picture illustration of a baby or baby and mother. The text fonts and the strategic location of the brand name on the package are similar.
Of the number of consumers interviewed, majority of them said they have not used other competing brands (imported diapers) and are not bothered about them.
While some said they have not heard or seen them but they believe that Molfix leads the market. Meanwhile, some consumers are still loyal to the Pampers brand, and some others prefer Huggies and would not hesitate to switch allegiance if they get exactly what they want from their preferred brand.
According to Mrs. Ijeoma Okere who operates a provision store at Anibaba Bus-stop, Isasi, Ojo Local Government Area, Lagos, some consumers often get deceived by the similarity in packaging of the diapers and so buy Molfix or Huggies thinking they have bought Pampers.
According to Alhaja Mulikat, a unit store owner at Mosafejo, Ajeromi LGA, Lagos: “Almost all the customers that come here to buy diapers tell me they want to buy Pampers. To them, they are all pampers and so when you give them any brand of diaper, they really do not care; only a few customers actually specify which one they want.”
An attendant at Jandol (a supermarket at Iyana-Ipaja) said, “Pampers still makes an impact in the market, though still preferred by some set of consumers when judging from the volume of sales recorded.
“We sell different brands of diapers. In all sincerity, I can tell you that Molfix is the market leader,” said the attendant.
Michael Okonkwo of Mike Merchandise, Suru-Alaba, Lagos, said: “The diaper market is saturated but the known names are still holding to their share of the market if not for the leadership table that has been upturned by Molfix, and Huggies when it newly entered the market. He noted that Pampers cannot be ignored as its name stands as a colossus in the market for more years to come.” However, efforts made to speak with the manufacturers of the brands failed as they were not willing to talk to this reporter.