By Princewill Ekwujuru
One year ago, Adil Farhat assumed office as the Managing Director of Procter and Gamble (P&G). In this interview he spoke extensively on the company’s commitment to increase its footprint in Nigeria, as well as measures been adopted to reposition the Personal Healthcare industry in Nigeria. Excerpt.
Kindly give an overview, developments and possibly challenges in the Nigerian Personal Hygiene market against the backdrop of the economic contractions?
I think our portfolios are very well placed to serve across multiple categories of consumers in Nigeria. We have the diaper brand in Pampers for babies. We have the Always pad brands which cater for young girls who are just about to enter into puberty. I will talk about the work we are doing with this brand, some great works that our team is leading with some of our partners in Nigeria, especially MercyCorp, a Non Governmental organization (NGOs).
Then we have Gillette which is a global shave care leader, Oral-B and Ariel our globally renowned tooth paste and detergent brands in Nigeria.
So we have six leading world class brands in Nigeria. Our footprint is quite broad, and if you talk specifically about Pampers and Always. Always has continued to invest in ensuring that we give priority to hygiene in healthcare for young girls in Nigeria, and for not having proper access to pads young girls lose up to five to seven days a month in school when their period starts, and I think that is a critical age that has a lot of impact and confidence as they grow up.
Always stepped in with a school program and plays a big role in keeping those girls in school, making sure they learn about personal health and hygiene earlier on in their life, and using that information to overcome the confidence break, to become more confident and stronger individuals.
Choice is a challenge, and comes with underhand practices like substandard products, influx of foreign products and challenges of regulation. How do you handle all these including sourcing your materials and still staying competitive?
Backward integration drive is something that we are being intentional about; ideally we like to source all our materials locally as much as possible, and continue to make improvements every year. We continue to work with suppliers, what we do every year is meet and work with our suppliers on capacity development, as well across the categories to ensure more of our materials are sourced locally in Nigeria and the government continues to help us make the conditions favourable.
There are some of the conditions as well which we are working on with the government, the Value Added Tax (VAT) which is one we are continuing to work with the government to make the products more accessible. I think backward integration is very intentional as far as our strategy is concerned.
P&G is one of the leading investor in Nigeria; I think the government at all time has worked well with us in terms of making sure there is a level playing field as far as the polity is concerned.
What is the contribution of local raw material into your various products?
In our Ariel brand, we are manufacturing in Ibadan right now, we have 100 percent packaging materials sourced locally. Presently we are also trying to source the ingredient locally that is why we continue to host our suppliers on it, even with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Ministry of Trade and Investment to see how our suppliers are able to access those raw materials. So we continue to engage, there are some raw materials we cannot source locally, but currently over 60 percent components are sourced locally and presently 100 percent packaging materials, that is why we are still importing and still engaging our suppliers to see how they can produce them locally.
What are the untapped opportunities your company could be moving into in the short to medium term?
Nigeria is a country that offers tremendous opportunities. Globally our company operates in 10 categories across 60 brands and we continue to look into opportunities and how we can tap into that portfolio
So locally we continue to look towards the brands that we sell. We have the Always Ultra business, we have now moved into Always Soft business as well, where we produce Pampers pants. We expanded our Gillette portfolio recently where we will continue to sell fusion razors up to double edge razors, Oral-B as well and other categories. Within these portfolios we continue to look for opportunities as we go forward.
How is the Nigerian market compared to other markets where your company operates especially in terms of product performance?
One way to compare this market is to have an idea how the categories are developing vis-a-vis our products. One challenging thing in a market like Nigeria’s is that we need to invest enough with programs like Always Keeping Girls in School (AKGS), Pampers Hospital Education, and Oral-B Doctors on Wheel. We make sure the category goes as deep as possible in terms of usage so that more people get access to better sanitary pads, diapers and paste.
I think one other thing that differentiates Nigerian market from some other parts of the world market like Europe for example is that the categories are more developed and so more people have access. We need to go in the same way in Nigeria in order to access more people. I think that is one key difference, partners like MercyCorp on Always and other partners in other categories help us go deeper to reach more people as possible.