EKine: Online Voting Will Boost Consumers’ Trust

CEO, BrandXchange and convener, Consumers Value Awards, Akonte Ekine, speaks about the importance of the awards and the online voting process that is building trust among consumers and brands. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts:

What Makes the Consumers Value Awards unique compared to other industry awards?

Thank you for the question. Consumers Value Awards as expressed by the name is an award under the sphere of consumers. Everything about the process of the Consumers Value Awards is more in the hands of the consumers. For instance, at the nomination stage, it is consumers that will nominate brands for listing to be voted for. What we do is basically to announce that the portal is open for nomination and with strong desire for transparency we announce the opening on almost all platforms including your reputable publication.

So, the uniqueness of the Consumers Value Awards is that it is driven by consumers for consumers with the objective of expressing concerns about better service within the eight consumer rights.

Can you tell us more about the voting process and how consumers can participate in selecting the winners?

After listing of all the brands listed for voting based on nominations by consumers, we opened the website for voting and the website remains open till last day of June 2024 to enable consumers to cast votes. It is important to state that you can only vote in the various categories once because for every time you attempt to vote in each of the category, consumers are required to submit their email address as an identity for a One Time Password (OTP) to be sent for verification. Once you get the OTP and you input the OTP, your voting will be recognised.

To protect the integrity of the system it is important we establish the process to avoid double voting or multiple voting by consumers.

Why is it important for consumers to participate in voting for Consumers Value Awards?

The entire initiative is about promoting the Eight Consumer Rights which includes the right to be heard and the right to expression as well the right to contribute to product and service development.

So, it is important that consumers participate in voting to call out brands that are not keeping promises made to the public.

The participation of consumers is also very important at this time as we consumers play the role of our brothers’ keeper when we shout-down on a brand that is poor in performance, we have simply alerted another consumer to stay away.

The consumers’ participation is the establishment of the essence of the programme as a vehicle to ensure that brands are living up to expected standard they have created or meet the expectation of the consumers.  

What criteria do brands need to meet to be nominated for the Consumers Value Awards?

Good question. For us, our consideration is that once a consumer has made effort to purchase a brand or engage a service, then that brand is good enough to be listed or nominated. It is an open market initiative for brand owners and consumers generally. Any brand that is on the shelf in the market or on the internet that is consumed by the people is good enough for nomination and in the last two editions we have had over 500 brands across all sectors listed for nomination and voting. That is why we call it a badge of honour from Consumers to the Brands as a statement of thank you, which will put the brands on the spot for sustainable representation in the market.

Can you share some success stories or testimonials from previous awards?

This is the journey third edition and the voting is ongoing. The success of the last two editions can be seen from the fact that representative of Nigeria Communications Commission, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Agency, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and the Advertising Regulatory Commission of Nigeria, were well represented and delivered messages to consumers.

It is also for us a success to have over 50 brands in attendance to pick the bade of honours in the last two editions, including brands such as Glo, Dangote Cement, Reload Multivitamin, Leadway Insurance, Bigi Cola, Bigi Sausage and Oral B tooth paste to mention a few.

For us the real success is the consumers making effort to list brands and voting. It shows that there is a growing consciousness that consumers deserve better market experience and there will be more vehicle for expression that will call out service providers and regulators to do better

What benefits do brands gain from receiving the awards?

I am sure that you are all aware that the best marketer of a brand is the consumers, so winning the award is a great opportunity for brand growth in terms of perception, reputational capital and increase in sales. Benefits seems endless but it must be stated that a consumers bade of honour based on voting is a major stamp of respect for the brand by consumers from consumers to consumers. It is a stamp of acceptance and a bench market for the brands keep the standard and improve on it. It is call to all brands to look around and act if they want to play in the same market as consumers are pushing for better experience.

How has the response been from consumers and brands in the previous editions of the awards?

We had the very first edition two years ago and the second edition last year at same venue. What is very clear is that Consumer Value Awards (CVA) has come to stay, with five consumer regulatory related agencies of government in attendance in previous editions were we recognised people like Mrs. Sola Salako Ajulo, a member of the Tribunal in FCCPC, for her effort as a pioneer advocate of Consumer Rights to the best of our knowledge. In the first edition, we also recognised the Director General, Advertising regulatory Commission, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo and former Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta for the excellent work they are doing in promoting better consumer experiences through legislations.

It is only the consumers that can give the success rating on this project but if in two years of existence we have pulled together over one hundred brands across the globe to attend the event, then we can safely say we are on a journey of excellence.

Aside attendance, the celebration of the awards by brands such a Glo, Leadway, reload Multivitamin, Checkers Custard, Bigi Cola, Bigi Sausage and Fearless Energy Drink again, to mention a few of the brands, is a great sign of success.

Are there any new categories or changes in this third edition of the consumers Value Awards?

Last year we introduced the special public sector category to search for governors and states that are actively promoting consumers rights and we are holding onto that because it is a good conversation sustainer on the subject of our interest.

This year we are looking out for consumer conversations from brands that are social advocacy. This new category will promote public conversation from corporate sustainability initiative of brands and will also promote better consumer behaviour in the market.

Unlike last year, we have also through consumers’ nomination, created sub-categories under some brands as a result of herbal availability, children and infant categories of the brands. It is not us that created it but consumers nominations made it happen that we have to establish such and this also affect home appliances where we have to separate the brands into four different categories based on functionality rather than group into one.

The third edition voting is ongoing on the website and we can see that consumers are responding positively with votes and we can only wait till the last day of June to conclude on the winners.

 How does BrandXchange ensure the integrity and transparency of the votes?

BrandXchange is doing everything to ensure that the voting is not compromised. We are staying with the process of ensuring that you can only vote if you register your email to get OTP and you must input the unique OTP before your voting can be valid. It is the Consumers that validate the brands so we keep that simple yet effective law active on the website.

We have not had challenges about voting and about OTP and we have stayed true to the goal to be transparent on this project because at this stage that we are, it is the consumers that we are protecting and promoting to get better service.

I am sure that if the trust we built in the first edition was not good enough, the second edition would probably not get the degree of success we got and therefore we have to hold onto that public trust and remain open and transparent for everyone interested to visit the website and cast vote or review it. We call it a badge of honour and so even from inception it must be seen and experienced as such.

What is the timeline for the voting period and announcement of winners?

The voting is on-going till 30th June and thereafter, we will inform the winners and all invited regulators and other winners and participants that will grace the beautiful day in September at same venue.

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