Engaging Children in the Noodles Market

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As a result of their power to influence purchasing habits in the family, children have remained a major segment of the market, with brands falling over one another to attract their attention. Raheem Akingbolu reports

For close to two decades, competition in the noodles market has consistently been on the rise. Like in every war, the struggle has recorded casualties as well as giving birth to market icons.

To get a big share of the market, noodles companies have adopted various strategies to make their brands more appealing to consumers, especially children. Aside positioning with attributes like quality nourishment, tasty nutrition and affordability, smart ones among them have leveraged on promotion and reward system. They have also deployed different commercials on radio and television.

In the last 10 years, consumers have experienced various products. Among them are; Indomie made by Dufil Prima Foods, Golden Penny noodles by Flour Mills Nigeria Plc, Honeywell noodles by Honeywell Superfine Foods Limited, a subsidiary of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc and Dangote noodles by Dangote Group. Others are O Noodles, Chiki noodles, Sum Yun and Mimi Noodles by May & Baker. However, most of the brands have since dead.

Indomie was the pioneer noodle in Nigeria and swallowed the bitter pills associated with the teething problems of market acceptance. Soon, it gained consumer approval. For several years, it enjoyed the monopoly as the only noodles brand and gradually became the generic name for noodles in Nigeria.
Its monopoly recently faced fierce competition from other noodles, but, no doubt, its dominance is still pronounced, as many have conservatively stuck to it.

IIDA as a CSR Strategy for Indomie
Although Nigerian children are performing heroic feats, there are gaps in rewarding them. Dufil Prima Foods noticed such gaps in 2008 and decided to set up an award, Indomie Independence Day Awards (IIDA), for heroic children.
The award is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative organised annually by the maker of Indomie instant noodle to identify, recognise and celebrate children below the age of 15 for their intellectual, social and physical bravery. Established 10 years ago, the award, which is worth multi-million naira scholarships for the winners, has benefited over 39 children.

This year, the award event was held Lagos with a roll call of attendees that included industrialists, bankers, school administrators, musical artistes, students, the winners and their parents.

Delivery her speech, the guest speaker at the occasion and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rise Networks, Mrs. Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji thanked Dufil Prima Foods for sustaining the award for these past 10 years, adding that what the company is doing through IIDA is capable of empowering the Nigerian child.

“I want to thank Dufil Prima Foods for the remarkable work she is doing in Nigeria. IIDA is the biggest and most inspiring programme for children in Nigeria. It is commendable for an organisation like Dufil Prima Foods to have stayed consistent to doing social responsibility programme the way she has been doing it, by making sustainable substantial contribution to the growth and development of Nigerian children, without necessarily getting something in return,” Akerele-Ogunsiji said.

The guest speaker said it was commendable to see Nigerian children breaking barriers to contribute meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.Akerele-Ogunsiji said: “I sat down with my fellow judges few weeks ago to watch videos of the entries for IIDA. It moved me to tears to see ordinary children from hinterlands of Nigeria performing heroic acts. Many of those children come from what one can describe as low income families; they do not have the privilege of acquiring proper education. However, those children have brazed all odds, and they are doing magic in their remote communities.”

Physical bravery category
During the roll call of winners, 15-year-old Victor Olayiwola was announced as the winner of the physical bravery category. The story of the young Olayiwola is both interesting and pathetic. Olawiwola was only nine when he saved the life of his mother from a car accident.
The incident happened on December 12, 2012 when his family was returning from a church service. The family was crossing a popular road at Fagba, Lagos, when a car, on a high speed, voraciously aimed for the life of Olayiwola’s mother. But Olayiwola was behind the family to notice the oncoming vehicle. Without thinking twice, he dived and pushed away his mother and other family members. However, his legs were crushed by the car. He was rushed to eight hospitals, but was rejected by all the hospitals. The ninth hospital that accepted to treat him could only save his life, but not his legs. His left leg was so badly affected by the accident that it had to be amputated. Today, Olayiwola bears the brunt of the accident, for he walks around with prosthetics. But Dufil Prima Foods is changing the story of the teenager for the better, through IIDA.
Making the announcement, IIDA panel of judges described Olayiwola as a brave child, whose bravery should not go unrewarded.

Judges and criteria
The panel of judges that independently examined, critic and nominated the winning stories included Managing Director of Rave TV and Trend FM, Agatha Amata; Managing Partner of CC-Hub, Mr Adetunji Eleso and Akerele-Ogunsiji. Others included the Managing Partner of Sanni and Co.,Prof. Abiola Sanni; social critic, Mr Adekunle Adeniyi and Television Continental (TVC) Director of Programmes,MrsMorayo Afolabi-Brown.

Afolabi-Brown, who spoke on behalf of the judges appreciated Dufil Prima Foods for providing such a wonder platform like IIDA for children to be appreciated. “It is easy to do things for a group of people who can pay back. But it is worthy to note that Dufil Prima Foods decided to give this award to a group of people who cannot pay back: children. I think that this award has actually set a pace of what CSR should all be about. To have done this award for a decade now shows that Dufil Prima Foods actually has the interest of children at heart,” Afolabi-Brown said.