“One cup N50, three cups N100,” shouted a woman selling boiled groundnuts while she was busy attending to numerous customers surrounding her and her wheelbarrow filled with boiled groundnuts.
“One salt N80, two N150, three N200,” this time from a man pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with packets of salt.
“Don’t spend too much on clothes for your children. Buy better clothes here. Two, two hundred; two, two hundred. Three for 600; six for 1000.” This one is from a woman and her son selling second-hand clothes.
“Buy three, get one free.” This was blasting from a loudspeaker mounted by a local herb seller.
These are just a few out of the numerous ‘noisy’ advertisements that characterises Nigerian markets. To be honest, I always wonder how these people make their profits especially those that sell things that are of good quality. But the fact that they don’t fold up after some time shows that they have ways of surviving. I am not a business analyst but I believe the following strategies kept them afloat:
- One thing I’ve noticed is that these sellers make large sales. And if you consider the amount discounted, you will find out that they will realise it through the quantity of sales made.
- If not for anything else, these people attract new customers and their old ones keep coming back. However, customer retention depends on so many other things, one of which is the quality of goods sold or services rendered. But when a new customer is satisfied with what he or she paid for, he/she will keep coming back for more.
- I noticed that these traders sometimes use this discount strategy to attract customers who will find out when they come that there are better commodities that are not discounted. Most times, the buyers will find what they need from the undiscounted goods and will buy them. This has happened to me several times.
- Some of the goods given out on discount are those that may spoil if left in the shop or warehouse for longer time. So, instead of losing those goods entirely, they’ll sell them off at give-away prices and still benefit from the exercise. The traders may also decide to sell off some commodities so as to make space for new stocks.
- One thing these traders have learnt so well is the effect of loud advertisement. I called it loud because they make their advertisements so forceful. In fact, they don’t consider whether you were disturbed by their ‘noise’ or not. Theirs is to make sure that as many people as possible heard about their business, and the discount. In other words, they know the powerful effect of the combination of discount and forceful advertisement.
I know that some of us feel that this type of business strategy employed by these traders may not work in large scale businesses, but who knows. Some businesses have made so much name that they don’t think they need to waste their resources on discounts and adverts. But those are not my interest right now, because they have experts that study the markets for them and recommend what they should do to increase sales. My interest for now is on Naija start-ups.
One of the major challenges of Nigerian emerging businesses is how they can pave their way into the market, which has already been dominated by large and rich conglomerates. I want to inspire these new emerging and would-be-emerging companies with the success story of a school I know so well.
There is this school somewhere in FCT, I’ll call it School A. When School A’s structure was still under construction, someone that lives on the street where School A is located, immediately converted her residence to a school (School B). Maybe she all of a sudden realised that there wasn’t any school around that area and that School A will make much profit. So she decided to open hers first and establish very well before School A’s building is completed. Well, when School A was ready to receive her students, the owner pulled a stunt that nobody thought of – she offered scholarship based on the number of students that come from a family. Look at the way she did it: for families that register up to three children, the 3rd ones will have 50% scholarship. For families that register up to four children and above, the youngest ones among them will have full scholarship until he/she finishes from the school. This information was included in the flyers and circulated. Did this bring students for her? Of course it did.
Dear Naija Start-ups, nobody said it was going to be easy. But we can’t fold our hands because we believe it’s difficult. So, what do you think about giving discounts to attract new customers and retain the old ones? Have you ever thought of the form of discount you will give?
What about advertisement? How do you plan to go about it? Which form do you want to use? You don’t have to spend so much on that. You can spread the words around through the internet. You also can do that through spreading flyers and posters. Ever thought of letting your contacts spread the words for? What about using social media such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and the rest? See, make your advertisement loud and don’t apologise to anybody for being ‘noisy’ because the people in the market do not apologise to us for the noise they cause in the market.
Dear Naija Startups, you are not there to compete with the big companies. You are just there to locate your space and keep it. So, I’ll say, “locate your space and keep it by combining discount and loud advertisement.”