The Chief Executive Officer, Polo Limited, John Obayuwana, in this interview, speaks on what defines a Nigerian consumer, global trend in the luxury market and the introduction of 170-year-old Omega brand into the market. Raheem Akingbolu brings the excerpts:
As a brand promoter, who has engaged many consumers for decades, how can you describe an average Nigerian consumer?
Nigerian consumer is exposed, Nigerian consumer is always seeking what is knew, he is always looking for what is unique and beautiful. Succinctly speaking, Nigerian consumer is astute, smart, discerning and sophisticated. The personality of a consumer dictates what you take to him. Since the consumer here is not a pushover, you cannot just throw anything at him. If you respect consumers in this part of the world and take quality to them, I bet, you will succeed.
With the lull in the economy over the years, what has been the experience in the luxury market?
Let’s me first state that the Luxury market is not anything different from general economy; it’s the same turbulent and headwinds that everybody encounters. But the ability to remain strong and still pushing ahead, in spite of the challenges is what distinguishes those that will keep growing and those that will not. As you have rightly observed, the economy in the last few years has been affected by local and international factors. There are challenges in the area of government policies, tariffs, taxes, power and forex, which have affected trading, manufacturing and services but the truth is that when there are challenges, a brand owner who thinks out of the box rejigs and reviews his or her operation in line with the reality on ground. That’s the secret of our team at Polo and we follow it to the latter. Besides, we are lucky because the company is blessed with loyal stakeholders; the contribution of our patrons, staff and others have been immeasurable.
170 years after the Omega wrist watch brand was introduced, your company was recently chosen as a distributor in Nigeria. What does that mean to you and why did it take such a long time for the brand to explore the market?
That we have been chosen means a great achievement. It has further confirmed our global recognition and understanding of the Nigerian market. The partnership further reiterates the group’s consistent leadership and expertise in understanding the Nigerian luxury consumers and market at large. We have been chosen as the official representative, distributor and retailer of Omega. For us it is a great feat because this brand is one of the most prestigious wristwatch brands in the world. It has made a lot of watches and has continued to make history since inception 170 years ago in Switzerland. Historically, since 1848, Omega’s pioneering spirit has led the way in design, innovation and history-defining moments. The brand is, in fact one of the very few watch brands to be named after a movement-the19-ligne “Omega” caliber of 1894. Since those earliest days, it has constantly been at the forefront of the watchmaking world, delivery revolutionary technology that has boldly shaped the industry. That same dedication and passion has also cemented a proud legacy compassing sports timekeeping, adventure and space exploration. In 1969, the Omega speedmaster became the first watch worn on the moon and, since 1932, the brand has established a proud legacy as the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games. In fact, wherever time moves, Omega has continued to achieve and inspire with an enduring commitment to the people and pioneers and make the most of every second. That record is hard to break by competitions. Back to the question on why it took the brand a long time to enter Nigerian market. It took the brand such a long because the promoters of the brand were looking for a perfect partner. Let’s be sincere, every good thing takes a long time to achieve. Like in marriage, it takes a time before two parties agree on any positive venture. The promoters of the brand must have been busy over the years, looking for a partner that would share the same DNA with them. I believe they have found that in us.
The partnership with the Omega brand is one anchored on beauty, integrity, attention to detail and impeccable customer service in delivering unique and pioneering pieces in elevating the luxury experience for luxury shoppers in Africa who constantly yearn for innovative and antique pieces which sets them apart from the pack in showcasing their fashion styles.
Considering what it costs to join the Omega brand as a patron, can you state additional values Polo and its new partner are bringing to the table?
As the sole distributor in this part of the world, we are going to have the first store in Africa, with high end impeccable after sales services. Therefore, you are not just buying watch, you are also starting a relationship with the brand. The moment you become one of the patrons of Omega, you are able to maintain your watch, to refresh it and to renew it. We are not just trading but we are also adding value. If we sell you watch, we follow up on it and make sure you don’t have any challenge. Perhaps the biggest offer is the fact that Omega after sales has five-year warranty, not only in Nigeria but across the world where there is Omega.
Can you please touch on the unique selling point of the brand and its target audience?
Let me quickly clear the air about the target audience; the Omega brand targets every consumer that appreciates uniqueness, excellence and quality. Quality and excellence are core values within the Omega brand family. The Omega brand has four iconic collections which has a strong tradition and evolution of excellence and they include; the Speedmaster, Constellation, De Ville and most especially the Seamaster which has since 1995 become inseparable from the spy in the James Bond movie franchise. These qualities by the brand, has endeared global appeal to consumers who are fascinated by the unique mystique and excitement the Omega brand offers.
Since 1995, when James Bond became one of the brand’s first ambassadors, it has continued to partner with some of the most famous names in film, sport, fashion and exploration. Chosen for their individual style and success, each one has helped to build the brand and showcase its most incredible watches.
As the world’s first master chronometer, the globe master has been tested and certified at the industry’s highest level. The revolutionary timepiece combines exquisite design with Omega’s most advanced mechanical movement. From anywhere we look at it, the brand is a proud and great luxury brand that has consistently sponsored and remained Olympic Timekeeper. It’s commitment to progression and innovation has always driven the brand promoters forward and today they are still offering their customers the highest possible standards in the industry.
With other brands on your shelf, don’t you think Omega may be a threat or an invitation to self-induced competition?
Internal competition does not arise because human needs are complex. In cars, clothing, why do people buy many brands? There are different dresses and different cars for different occasions. This is also the same when it comes to watch collection.
Globally the Omega brand has remained within the top 5 selling brands in the past five years, which showcases its leadership and appeal to luxury consumers with a flair for distinct antique pieces. It is also more actively involved in sports timekeeping compared to other brands, and has been the official timekeeper at 28 Olympic games. Like I pointed out at the beginning, in raising industry standards and pushing the boundaries of watchmaking quality, the Omega watch brand has a 5 years’ warranty for every purchase from official partners and distributors. Again, it’s after sales service follows significant progress by the company over the years which includes the revolutionary arrival of Master chronometer certification, which has established a new industry benchmark for precision, performance and magnetic resistance.