By Princewll Ekwujuru
Hair care and Beau-ty products manufacturers are locked in intense competition for market leadership in the conditioner and oil sub-sector.
The manufacturers have started producing hair care and beauty products that are free of chemicals such as sulfate, paraben, petrolatum, mineral oil and phthalate. They have also commenced infusion of natural ingredients such as coconut, avocado, honey, fruits, flowers and other herbs into their products.
The battle for leadership is reflected in competitive pricing, attractive packaging, product sizes and segmentation, which has led to widening consumer choices.
The battle in the market has positioned Nigeria as one of the major markets, primarily due to the huge population and market size, which the manufacturers see as attractive and ready-made for their products.
The brands competing for honour are Phenomon oil (a blend of 14 natural fruits, flowers and herb essential oils), Honey and Sage (which claims to contain natural and organic ingredients), Palmer’s natural fusion (claim to replace lost moisture and softens hair), Natures Gentle Touch (chemical-free, made from natural ingredients and maintains natural hair) and Andre Walker’s Quench Essential oil (contains mongongo argan esencial aceite).
Vanguard Companies & Markets, C&M findings revealed that most of the hair care brands competing in the market are imported, leaving Nature’s Gentle Touch, as the only local brand to compete in the sub-sector.
Investigations by C&M in various markets in parts of Lagos State showed that majority of the consumers preferred Natures Gentle Touch, Phenomon oil and Palmer’s natural fusion, with Andre Walker’s Quench Essential oil having a minimal mention.
Natures Gentle Touch had an edge because of its recent demonstration exercise and workshop organised to sensitize consumers on how to manage and maintain natural hair at the instance of its new additions (five Monoil range) in the natural hair product segment.
A consumer, Echezona Alakwe, said she prefers Natures Gentle Touch. “It gives me the kind of soft and shiny hair I want. Its problem is that it is difficult to find in open market and neighbourhood stores,” she noted.
Ms. Abiola Olaiya, a hair stylist who plies her trade at Agboju market along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Lagos said: “Most customers who come here use other products, but complain that they want a product that will give them or maintain their natural hair. I recommended Natures Gentle Touch, because I tried it on a customer who bought it, since then customers have been asking for the brand.”
Another hairstylist, Emmanuella Otigwu, whose shop is located in Surulere, Lagos said: “All these products are good depending on a customer’s choice. I do not recommend products to my customers. It is their choice to buy whatever brand they want. I have Natures Gentle Touch, Phenomon oil and Palmer’s natural fusion and Andre Walker’s Quench Essential oil on my shelf.”
Matthew Mka of Hair Generation Salon, Ikeja, Lagos said: ”While you can create an effective one for yourself by mixing your favourite oils, this treatment from Phenomon oil eliminates all the guesswork that comes with homemade mixtures. Just distribute a decent amount of this throughout your hair, sit under a dryer for 15 to 20 minutes, it will deeply penetrate your hair shaft.
“This penetrating deep conditioning treatment will coat your follicles and work its way down each strand, leaving you with refreshed, moisturized, soft, and full fragrant hair.”
A hairstylist, Josephine Oke, who runs a hair clinic in Surulere, Lagos, said: ”Washing our hair is something most of us do without thinking twice about it. It’s just part of our daily routine. It might not be as simple as we thought. As it turns out, the way you wash your hair can be the difference between a good hair and a bad one.
“After doing hair for 15 years, I find most people still have a hard time with this very fundamental task. The first step is figuring out what type of hair you have. Do a test and see if the diameter of your hair is smaller than a quarter. That means you have fine hair. And a quarter or more means you have medium to thick hair.
“From there you will find the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. For fine hair, use a product that won’t weigh the hair down, but give it strength and volume.
“Fine hair has 50 per cent less protein than medium or thick hair, which means it’s weak and needs to be strengthened. For medium to thick hair, look for a product with moisture that will soften the texture.”
Group Managing Director, Recare Limited, Chika Ikenga, while speaking about the Monoi range, said: “The Monoi oil we recently launched is for natural hair; for people who do not want to use chemicals to straighten their hair. They keep their hair natural or virgin. So, looking at the typical challenges that they have or would have, we decided to use our Monoi range. The interesting thing is, the Monoi range is for people who have natural hair, particularly people who are in Nigeria, putting into consideration our weather and the particular texture of our hair.”
On whether imported products align with our weather and hair condition, he said: “This is where we have an opportunity because we are different from the people that the foreign manufacturers make their products for. So, it creates an opportunity for us. Our products are specifically made for people living here (Africa). The foreign products are not.”