Raheem Akingbolu writes on the impact of endorsements on brand growth and sales, citing the recent certificate given to Mamador, a cooking oil from the stable of PZ Wilmar by the Nigerian Heart Foundation
Endorsements are by no means a recent phenomenon in the Nigerian market but it has become a pungent tool for brand building. In the last few years, hardly there is any brand that worth its name that has not, at one time or the other, attracted either a celebrity endorsement or the certificate of a regulatory body. European coca wine maker, Vin Mariani set the standard back in the 19th century with print endorsements from Pope Leo XIII and French actor Bethelier. Since then, the trend has become popular among the premium brand, especially those targeting the high segment of the market. From Pepsi, to Nike, Diageo to Coca-Cola, all have ride on endorsement to extend their frontiers in the market.
With endorsement, brands connect more people and earn trust and respect among consumers. It is also a means of advertising as the credible organisations lend their names or images to promote a product or service. Brand owners believe that such approval by a celebrity or recognised institution will influence buyers favourably. For example, Kanu Nwankwo endorsing motorcycles and biscuits can influence young men or children who look to him as role model. If it is adapted as advertising, it is believed that it will connect with a lot more people than ordinary advertising can, because people will notice the display of the organisation or personality. Such ads works well for aspiration products to connect easily with their target segment of the market.
However, when it comes from a professional or regulatory body like Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), the impact becomes greater. That was what happened recently when NHF awarded Mamador cooking oil a certificate for being a standard product and recommended it to Nigerian consumers. According to the NHF board, the process was though rigorous and demanding, the promoters of the oil were not deterred but rather cooperated while it lasted. An affiliate of the World Heart Federation in Geneva, NHF has consistently championed the cause of originality and quality in the Nigerian market. Having gotten the nod of the organisation, Mamador has thus become certified cooking oil for consumers.
As organisation, the major objective of NHF is to prevent heart diseases, promote and support research on cardiovascular disease and create public enlightenment on prevention of heart diseases. The body is also committed to subject products to various scientific tests.
As stated by the Executive Director of NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, who stood in for the chairman of the board, Prof. Oladipupo Akinkugbe, at the presentation ceremony in Lagos, the courage of the management of PZ Wilmar, a joint venture between PZ Cussons and Wilmar International, to come forward for assessment spoke volume for the company’s credibility.
He said: “NHF is committed to international standard and will never compromise our assessment procedure. For PZ Wilmar, to have come forward and submitted the product to be assessed indicated showed the seriousness of its management. In a way, they have practically demonstrated that the product is good for human consumption,”
According to him, the body wanted to act thoroughly in order to justify its eventual scientific claim on the product and whatever result it would come out with. As a result of this, it took its time to examine the product to authenticate the product as heart friendly product. At the end of the examination, the body endorsed Mamador as heart friendly cooking oil product.
In a market that parades many cooking oil brand, the certification will sure boosts the profile of the brand and makes it appeal more to consumers. Considering the emphasis being laid on consumption of healthy foods, the certificate will further build the confidence of consumers towards the product. Besides, it will further educate patrons of the brand and the general public, who are keen about avoiding food that can damage their system or lead to complications such as heart diseases and obesity.
The executive director, spoke glowingly about the experience the organisation has about labeling since 1998 and the process involved.
“We have to prove ourselves, because whatever we are doing is global and we have to be accepted globally to be given recognition. We have to take every needed step systematically and ethically. We thank Mamador to challenge us again”
According to him, the endorsement of Mamador has a global scientific backing. “Whatever we are doing, it is not just for Nigeria but globally and for us to endorse any product we need to take every needed step systematically,” he pointed out.
He attributed heart disease especially among black population to fat and stated that science is dynamic. The scientist argued that what is considered to be false today can be the truth tomorrow, adding that the best way is for those who want to remain relevant to continue to involve in research.
Brand’s strategy for growth
The name ‘Mamador’ was not known in the Nigerian market until two or three years ago, when PZ Wilmer introduced its Mamador cooking oil. Since it had giants to compete with in the market, handlers of the brand were smart to have quickly introduced a promotion and other incentives to attract consumers.
As a player in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), it is a usual terrain all over the world. To players in the sector, promotion is not just a marketing tool but a connecting factor in a competitive market. Therefore, more than any sector of the economy, FMCG has consistently leveraged on promotions and reward schemes to connect with the market.
With the ‘Mamador Cook and Cruise promo’ the company dared the giants and competes successfully in the market. By the time it would end recently, cars and other items worth millions had been won. The determination of the handlers of the brand to approach the NHF and eventual certification can be said to be another giant stride.
Reacting to the achievement, the Marketing Director of PZ Wilmar, Kalyan Bandyopadhyay, who led a team from the company to receive the certificate, admitted that the approval was a demonstration of the commitment of PZ Wilmar to produce products that are relevant and beneficial to the consumer in each local market.
“All the benefits and claims of the brand which include its cholesterol free claim, vitamins fortification and Omega 6&9 were all tested and adjudged to be true claims and therefore certified by NHF as a brand that promotes heart health,” he said.
The company’s General Manager, Bukky Bandele, who also spoke at the event added that the endorsement has now given Mamador the required partnership platform to do more for Nigerians. Specifically, she stated that the certificate will help the brand to set out on its ‘Mamador Million hearts Mission’ to promote healthy living among consumers.
She noted that modern lifestyles demand that consumers pay more attention to the health of their hearts by being more discerning about their diets and be more active in their choice of leisure activities.
“It takes courage to go to NHF and for any product manufacturer to desire that its product should be tested, it should be sure. For passing through the rigorous test, it proves that Mamador is good for consumption and good for the heart,” she stated.
To observers, the approval has given the Mamador brand an edge as a leading product when it comes to promotion of healthy lifestyle in Nigeria through dieting which can reduce risks of obesity and illnesses such heart disease and stroke.
It is however too early to predict what the future will look like for Mamador as competitions could be watching keenly on what to do to outsmart the brand but at the moment, the market appears to be there for its promoters to explore.