Empowerment as Catalyst for Market Growth  

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To retain and grow market share as well as the economy, business owners ride on various empowerment schemes to impact patrons of their brands, Raheem Akingbolu reports

In a free market economy, which Nigeria operates, there is stiff competition among brands, and this has prompted the quest for proper positioning in order to attain and sustain market leadership.

The healthy competition is evident in the fast expanding manufacturing, financial, service, communications, technology and entertainment sectors. This has led to the introduction of marketing campaigns by different organisations to spur activities around their brands.

The deregulation of the telecoms sector in 2001 led to the collapse of the monopoly status of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) which was moribund then. This paved way for competition as Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators like Airtel, MTN, Glo, 9mobile and ntel now offer telecom services to subscribers on their networks.

The same is evident in the FMCG industry with organisations struggling for supremacy in their areas of operation. In the brewing industry, Nigerian Breweries Plc has maintained market leadership despite stiff competition from Guinness Nigeria and International Breweries Plc. The competition between the brewing companies has prompted marketing campaigns with activities to drive penetration and to etch their products on the mind of consumers.

Competition in the beer sector

In the beer industry, the approach appears stronger than other areas considering the competition among the players in the market. At the moment, Guinness Nigeria, AbInBev Nigeria and Nigerian Breweries are at the forefront of the market, with each of them making effort to win customers’ loyalty through empowerment. To this end, they have embarked on empowerment initiatives to drive sales and product awareness.

For instance, Nigerian Breweries Plc has, in the last few years, built affinity between Goldberg Lager Beer and consumers through what it tagged Excellency Tour, Ariya Repete and Isedowo, empowerment scheme.

The Excellency Tour,  which recently went through five cities of Abeokuta, Ilorin, Ado Ekiti, Ikare Akoko, Oyo, and Benin City, was aimed at promoting the culture of the southwest people through traditional drummers’ competition. To empower participants, winners in the exercise were rewarded with cash prizes. This, according to a statement issued by the company at the beginning of the programme was in line with the Goldberg’s three-point agenda of culture, respect and enjoyment.

Impact

The Senior Brand Manager, Regional Mainstream Brands, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Funso Ayeni, said the initiative has helped to strengthened Goldberg’s identification with the cultural values of the people of South West Nigeria.

The Excellency Tour also empowered the traditional drummers as the prizes won helped in expanding their band, enhance performance and thus improve their living standard. In each of the cities, first prize winners got N250, 000, second prize received N150, 000, while third winners had N100, 000, with the two finalists selected having N50, 000 each.

Before Ariya Repete musical contest, which was a fusion of both Fuji and Juju music, Goldberg had embarked on fuji music talent hunt competition christened Fuji t’o Bam in the Southwest. Apart from Tope Ajani from Akure, Ondo State, who emerged the Wura1 for the 2016 contest, Fuji t’o Bam has also brought to limelight young music acts like Akeem Okiki from Osogbo in Osun State after winning the 2015 title, Twinzobia Twins from Ibadan, Oyo State in 2014 and Antenna, winner of the first edition in 2013.

In the 2016 contest, Ajani clinched the first prize of N1,000,000, Saheed Ishola from Sango-Ota got N750,000 as the first runner up, while Mufutau Alabi from Ibadan went home with N500, 000 as the second runner up.

Since then, these musicians have improved on their talents and have been performing at various events, inspiring others and thereby creating job opportunities through fuji music.

On Ariya Repete expanded music talent hunt competition in 2017 which was an inclusion of Juju and Fuji music, Goldbereg brought to its consumers the best of both genres and an unparalleled experience with contestants from both categories winning N1 million each, plus a recording deal. This spurred commendation from ace artistes who described the initiative as ground-breaking.

Alhaji Ayinde Marshal Anifowose (KWAM 1), a renowned Fuji artiste, said Ariya Repete was a platform to showcase the musical culture that bind the Yoruba together. He stated that, if the initiative had been put in place before now, the state of Yoruba music industry would have been better than what it is presently.

At the grand finale of the competition in Ibadan on Friday, July 21, 2017, Onimama Fausiya and Leye Williams both emerged overall winners in the Fuji and Juju music category respectively, with the prize of N1, 000,000 each and a recording deal.

Commenting on Ariya Repete, the Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager and Stout brands, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Emmanuel Agu affirmed that the role of music in nation building is monumental as it fuels the mind and the creativity of listeners. “In no time, the concept lived up to expectations as many budding Fuji artistes have been discovered through the platform. It will also led to revenue generation if the skills attained is put into practice,” Agu stated.

In Goldberg’s effort to empower artisans in the Southwest, the brand came up with the Isedowo empowerment scheme which supported businesses of 100 artisans in Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun States with N300,000 each. Through the scheme, the brand extended its affinity with the people of the region beyond culture and tradition to entrepreneurship.

Launched in August 2017 by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja I1, Isedowo received wide commendation from monarchs and other respected individuals in Yorubaland.

Oba Adeyeye commended Goldberg for supporting artisans in the Southwest. “Goldberg Larger Beer and Nigerian Breweries have challenged other corporate bodies to give back to the society where they operate,” he said.

 

Feedbacks

Speaking at the launch, the Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Franco Maria Maggi, said Goldberg through Isedowo would transform lives of its beneficiaries with spill over effects on the larger economy by increasing job and wealth creation.

The scheme commenced in each state with submission of business proposals that impact on the society, followed by collation and sorting of applications, audition and screening, trade visit and cheque presentation.

Beneficiaries include auto mechanics, caterers, fashion designers, carpenters, hair dressers, dry cleaners among others. They all commended Goldberg and affirmed that Isedowo was a relief from financial challenges faced in expanding their businesses.

 

Ojo Adeosun, a fashion designer, who was excited after receiving the grant, said the N300,000 was a huge upliftment from financial challenges as it helped him in the purchase of a new sewing machine he had always required to expand his business. He disclosed that he also started selling fabrics and now has three apprentices working with him.

Adeosun said he had been in dire need of capital and when he heard about Isedowo, he decided to send his business proposal for the auditioning and screening processes. “I commend Goldberg and Nigerian Breweries for boosting my business and the initiative is worth emulating,” Adeosun stated.

Kayode Tope Ogunro, a photo/videographer, disclosed that he had almost concluded arrangement to buy a camera and video lights from a friend in Lagos and intended to open a studio with the grant from Isedowo. He said he would also employ an assistant to further expand his business. Ogunro advised other entrepreneurs to come up with good business ideas with positive impacts on the society.

Ayodele Adebalogun, an aluminium fabricator, said Isedowo provided a relief from the daunting struggle to raise capital. He disclosed that he participated in the scheme with his wife, who is a caterer, but the judges did not deem her proposal fit enough for selection. He added that after buying a new cutting machine for his work, he supported his wife’s business with parts of the grant.

“My old cutting machine was faulty and Isedowo was there for me when l needed assistance to replace it. Now, my wife’s catering business is also active again,” he said.

Alo Babatope, an auto mechanic, and Ade Akinyemi, a welder, both commended Goldberg, stating that the scheme was timely. Babatope, who holds a certificate in automotive programme from the University of Ibadan, said he bought a launch diagnostic machine used for all brand of cars with the grant.

Akinyemi lauded Goldberg for creating wealth and job opportunities in the Southwest. He added that the grant helped him in expanding his business enterprise as he was able to purchase a welding machine he had longed to have.

“Isedowo has taken that burden off me and I am now a happy man. Goldberg deserves the name ‘Your Excellency’ because it has put smiles on faces of people in distress,” Akinyemi affirmed.