By Princewill Ekwujuru
Local sanitary pad producers are beginning to re-strategize by adopting new marketing approach to tackle influx of foreign sanitary pads, prompting re-alignment of their route-to-market strategies, introduction of price adjustments and product innovation.
The local sanitary pad producers are also jostling for market share through the introduction of various marketing tools designed to win consumers’ loyalty.
The local producers have also made additional investments to expand their infrastructure in order to increase production capacity in anticipation of increased market share.
They have also embarked on direct marketing approaches involving market and street storming campaigns to reach their target audiences among other factors.
The other factors adopted by the local producers are aggressive promotions, for example, raffle draws to win tickets to cinemas or eateries, additional product for buying a certain number; buy two and get one free.
Another factor is the various initiatives taken by local producers to increase awareness about the benefits of using hygienic sanitary pads, as a result of rising education level. The other factor adopted by local producers is price adjustments to meet consumers’ dwindling income bracket occasioned by economic contraction.
The Nigerian market has close to 35 sanitary pad brands jostling for market share nationwide. While some have emerged top of the mind brands with national spread, some play at the regional level.
Top contenders for market share are imported sanitary pad brands such as Virony, Kotex Ultra, Dr Brown’s, Lady Sept, Soft care, Sally and others. While top contenders for the locals are, Always, Diva, Lady Care, Safe, Comfit, Ultrex, Lady Soft and others
Vanguard Companies and Markets (C&M) findings show that the sanitary pad market seems to have been fragmented by the entrant of various local sanitary pad brands like Diva, Lady Soft and Lady Care which opened up the market, thus breaking the monopoly earlier enjoyed by Always sanitary pad.
This, C&M gathered has further put pressure on other market leaders like Lady Sept, Always, Lady care, Diva, Dr Brown’s and Ultrex who have promised not to compromise on quality, but rather improve and upgrade to tackle competition from local and foreign brands.
C&M findings showed that there has been price adjustment across the sanitary pads market, especially from the local brands occasioned by battle to control the market.
Prices at the Open and neighbourhood stores have been low compared to the foreign brands, in exception of superstores where prices are fixed.
The high prices of foreign absorbents have however not deterred consumers, since the products are a necessity for the female folks, C&M observed. For example, Always Ultra normal (16 pads) which sell for N1, 250 last month, it is now N1, 200. Always Ultra No stain which sold for N850 previously, now sells for N1000.
Always Classic sells for N350 to N400 depending on the store, it used to sell for N300 before now.
Diva now sells for N250, it sold for N270 last month. Lady Care, just like Always Classic now sells for N300 to N350. Ultrex and Lady Soft now sell for N350 and N380 few months back respectively.
The foreign brands sell for between N350 and N2,000, which invariably means the locals are also confronting the foreign brands on price differentiation
C&M noted that product preference reflects a consumer’s desire to use a particular brand, even when there are equally priced and available alternatives. More often than not, product preference indicates a desire to seek out a specific product, even when it requires paying more or expending more efforts to obtain it.
According to a consumer, Abimbola Abolaji, a civil servant, “I use the foreign sanitary pads: “I find them more convenient even though the price may be higher compared to the others in the market. I buy them overseas or sometimes ask friends to get them for me. “Like most ladies, my brand has been Always for obvious reason. I like the fact that it gives me the desire I want from any brand. Like the Always Ultra Super. I feel like I am not putting on any pad when my month flows, I derive comfort from it,” said Florence Simon, a business woman.
Another consumer, Francesca Ugo, a civil servant who prefers Lady Care said: “It holds better for me that does not mean I do not use other brands. Before, it used to leak, but today I enjoy the innovative way it has improved; now its wings are longer, before the wings were short. The quality has also improved.”
A distributor at Alaba-Suru market, Lagos-Badagry Expressway who simply gave her name as Juliet said: “Most of the local brands have the same quality like the foreign brands.
“The fact remains that the local absorbents have improved a lot. The improvements of the local brands have really given the foreign brands a challenge, because before now the foreign brands had the day.
“Lady Care, Always, Diva, Ultrex, Lady Sept and Lady Soft are doing well from my sales record. I think the locals have a strong hold in the market.”
In Oke Arin market, Lagos Island, another distributor, who pleaded anonymity said: “I sell both the foreign and local absorbents. Some consumers still prefer the imported brands, while others the locals. I still see an absorbent market that will continue to innovate and improve in the next five years.”
However, “the changes and progress in feminine hygiene products that we see today were made around the twentieth century.”
Corroborating, he said, “Always, Lady Sept, Diva, Lady Care and Lady Soft are doing extremely well against the foreign brands.”
A top management of one of the local brands whose plant is located in Ogun state, who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Since 2015 we have invested N300 million to expand our capacity. We are investing heavily in infrastructure development. We are focused on improving our knowledge in menstrual health to serve the market better.”
Euromonitor says the sanitary pad market is expected to reach a value of $26.7 billion by 2023, at a growth rate of 5.4 percent.