By Timi Olubiyi, PhD
Happy New Year, 2023. The yuletide has witnessed a significant consumption rate across the country in the consumer goods sector. On a larger scale, sachet usage has dominated the retail industry in many parts of Africa but more significantly in Nigeria, where the population is high, and there is a huge demand for consumer goods.
Sustainable development goal 12 recognises that long-term development and economic growth are contingent upon modifying our production and consumption practices. It necessitates more efficient and eco-friendly management of materials throughout their entire lifecycle, including production, consumption, and disposal.
However, the level of plastic and sachet waste generation is extremely high, and we may have a big problem with that if this trend continues to increase without adequate regulation.
Consumption within the consumer goods ecosystem in the country is currently far from being sustainable because the waste from these products causes negative consequences for the populace and the environment, largely the sachet products.
The sachet products, or single-serve packs as they are normally called in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, dominate the retail landscape, and the surge in usage has been alarming.
In colloquial terms, the model is referred to as “sachetisation” which is known to have kicked off in Nigeria in the ’90s with the making of smaller sachets of drinking water (pure water) and Cowbell powdered milk by Promasidor. Then, the idea was necessitated by innovation to penetrate the larger low- or no-income populace.
However, the idea was later met with intense and stiff competition. Today, the literature suggests that over 60 million units of pure water are consumed per day in Nigeria, along with loads of other sachet pack products, from take-away food packs to carrier bags, drinks, cooking ingredients, and household cleaning products.
The sachet trend has continued to expand due to shrinking income levels, widespread hardship, and rising poverty amongst the populace. These undoubtedly have caused the growing adoption of sachet packs in the country recently.
For companies, the tough operating environment, decrepit infrastructure, continuous inflation, porous borders, and waning bulk consumption have further heightened the need for the sachet model’s adoption. Both individuals and businesses are feeling the weight of the economic challenges, and over time, the disposable income of consumers continues to wane.
Besides the consequences of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the economy in recent times continued to worsen the situation. They are majorly eroding the purchasing power of many individuals, households, and even companies.
The current economic situation has also made products and services more expensive nationwide. In fact, many manufacturing companies are witnessing reduced patronage of large items because not everyone can afford bulk purchases or regular packs, and consumers continue to look for cheaper alternatives. So, “sachetisation” is a business strategy and an alternative to engaging customers continually in this trying time. The idea is to make products affordable to consumers, particularly the majority of daily income earners who constitute a large chunk of the country’s population.
Many companies at this time of high inflation and economic uncertainty have resolved to adopt the “sachetisation” model to give some of the poorest people in Nigeria easy access to everyday household essentials and for continuous patronage within the consumer goods space.
Also, for the companies this time, it is a way to increase sales among the customers who cannot afford to buy in larger quantities. Even though the sachet model saves wastage with portion control, it requires minimum packaging materials, less storage, low shipping and transportation cost, and most importantly, it is pocket friendly to the end-users.
However, the painful truth and disclosure are that this trend is an indication of unsustainable consumption, income inequality, unaffordability, the wide gap between the haves and have-nots, the dwindling economy, and a high level of poverty in the country.
Supportably, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in the “2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria” report, highlights that 40 per cent of the total population, or almost 83 million people, live below the country’s poverty line. This figure even appears underestimated, in my opinion, due to a lack of data on the huge informal sector of the country. However, these sachet products give the poor in the country access to everyday household essentials but compromise sustainable consumption and the environment.
From observation, hardly is there any market-leading FMCG company in Nigeria that has not manufactured a single-serve pack (sachet-packed product) to capture the poor consumers.
To buttress the adoption of this model, the various operators in the open markets in the country unknowingly practice the sachet model on perishables, vegetables, and foodstuffs freely; all due to economic reasons and the waning purchasing power of the consumers.
The regular essential consumables that are noticeable in sachet are milk, detergent, cooking oil, cereal, margarine, liquor, pepper mix (pepper, tomatoes and onions), toothpaste, sugar, tomato sauce, shampoo, cornflakes, seasoning/spices, biscuits, dishwashing liquid, shaving sticks, cereals, bleach, Lipton sachet with just two tea bags, diaper sachet with just two units, disinfectant and energy drink amongst others.
From the sampled opinion, this sachet trend is on the increase in a bid for companies to continue to increase market share, increase market penetration, and remain competitive.
The important thing is that the trend is now becoming increasingly popular, and even choice brands are included in the growing wave. This trend encourages quick sales and increases competitiveness in consumer goods, where affordability is a big issue.
Importantly, companies need to note that the population of the poor in the country continues to grow, indicating that those unwilling to flow with the sachet trend may be at risk of running out of business.
Considering the country’s economic grieves, the trend is beneficial regarding patronage, sales, and business continuity. The sachet model is undoubtedly on the increase in the country, and it is currently a winning strategy to sell what a large percentage of the population can afford.
All said the points raised above are not to completely justify “sachetisation” as a business strategy but also to implore the companies and government to promote measures to improve sustainable consumption, clean production, and circular economy to reduce multidimensional poverty- which may include food security, housing, health, education, and security which directly impact the wellbeing of the populace.
The big issue is that most plastic sachets are not currently being recycled and reused. Therefore, government sustainable development strategies and policies need to be heightened to involve waste management, environmental management, pollution, and recycling and socio-economic plans need to be in place to promote recycling and save the environment. This should be a priority now. Therefore, key policies and measures to encourage proper waste management and recycling in the country should also be considered to avoid huge environmental pollution.
In conclusion, observation indicates “sachetisation” is now more like a necessity than an option in the country due to increased deprivation in myriad aspects of life.
The country’s telecommunications and some real estate companies are exploring the sachet model with various smart (sachet) pack products with daily payment options.
Above all, it is not even out of place to mention that just like these companies and FMCG, the financial sector- banking, insurance, and investment management companies and even the Cable TV operators can ‘sachetised’ to make services more accessible and affordable for the masses.
However, leveraging innovation, sustainable production, and technology will be of great significance to achieve this. Good luck!
How may you obtain advice or further information on the article?
Dr Timi Olubiyi is an Entrepreneurship & Business Management expert with a PhD in Business Administration from Babcock University Nigeria. He is also a prolific investment coach, author, seasoned scholar, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered capital market operator. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, for any questions, reactions, and comments.
The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Dr Timi Olubiyi, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of others.
Checkmating The LGBT Incursion In African Politics: The Nigerian Case Study And Consequences
By Kwame lbrahim
The number of Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria, though largely undocumented officially, has continued to rise exponentially, especially among teenagers, youths and adults.
According to several projects related to fact-finding research and spontaneous polls conducted in some institutions of higher learning and amongst clusters of young people in social media groups and platforms, this is common everywhere but more pronounced in cities of Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Abuja, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Kaduna and Owerri.
This is even spreading all over the country at a growing rate despite the legal statutes and social responses, which have clearly red-flagged the queer preference and defined homosexuality as illegal in Nigeria and punishable by up to 14 years of prison in the conventional court system.
Nigeria is a largely conservative country, and the very Western proclivity towards openly embracing gay rights and LGBT penchants are deemed not only as anathema but also an unacceptable negation and disrespect for the very foundation on the mores and decency which its cultural, religious, traditional and secular communal existence have been built and have continued to thrive over the years.
As Nigeria evolves into a more post-modern and more globalized society, credible findings have revealed that the fundamental threat that this surge in queer attitude poses for its secularity is disturbingly manifest in the deliberate and determined effort by LGBT advocates to take over the political, legislative process in its 2023 elections.
The basic aim of such financiers is to subsequently secure sufficient representatives in its National Assembly to push for and promulgate the law legalising and legitimizing homosexuality.
In the past, such an attempt was resisted by communities in Kenya through the support of community leaders and its government, but the Nigerian situation seems different because of the present unholy silence that has greeted many aspirants for senatorial and House of Representative positions of some political parties that have well known LGBT sympathizers and practitioners as their candidates.
This is indeed a worrisome phenomenon which, if allowed to become a reality, will not only erode the very fabric of Nigeria’s original existential identity but would dangerously affect the acceptable balance of decency and straight relationship, which have been the hallmarks of a majority of traditional families in Nigeria and Africa.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria society will be confronted with dire consequences if this queer LGBT advocacy gains traction in its National Assembly, especially when such a law would embolden the gays and lesbians to openly challenge and even violently rubbish any real or perceived rational and normal counter-argument against this quite uncharacteristic behaviour in its society.
Furthermore, there is no doubt whatsoever that a law legitimizing LGBT tendencies would result in uncontrolled homophobia, which will radically disrupt peaceful existence and dislocate many straight people, who will be subjected to unprovoked assaults by those gloating to endorse the new legislation on the streets, schools, bars and restaurants, churches and other places where the need to impose the law would be deemed necessary and patriotic.
This sad intent through politics by introducing and sponsoring LGBT members into the National Legislative System of Africa’s most populous Nation will, of course, come at a great social, existential cost and unleash in its wake major destructive consequences to all African societies, the Nigerian nation and most developing communities of the world.
Against the backdrop of an anticipated backlash of violent and berserk orgies of unprovoked violence by members of the LGBT community, who had hitherto felt constrained, the need to sensitise the general public through the various channels of communication becomes highly recommended and inevitable, especially in recognition of the fact that this behaviour and the attendant defensive fightback, will definitely escalate if such is not checked at this 2023 election period in Nigeria.
All well-meaning Nigerians must act swiftly at this point of the electoral and voting process, where all the gains already achieved from the existing bill prohibiting and stipulating penalties for such queer practices can be reversed if they allow the pro-gay and LGBT sympathizers to dominate the National Assembly with their presence as elected Representatives as they would have a voice on the floors of the two parliaments to destroy its moral standards and religious beliefs.
The accommodation, maturity, peaceful, harmonious coexistence and decency which exist in Nigerian society would all be eroded once the legislation to legalise same-sex and LGBT relationships are achieved. A stitch in time saves nine. This is a time for community, traditional and religious leaders to speak up. This is the time for the electorate to grow in proper awareness of the consequences of making inappropriate choices.
Already, findings from credible investigations conducted to ascertain the next strategic ploy by the Queer community to accomplish the deliberate agenda of forcing legislation that would favour their cause indicate that the LGBT community in Nigeria has set its target at producing twenty House of Representative members from four states, namely: Sokoto, Kano, Rivers and Lagos, during the 2023 election.
In states where party tickets could not be secured in the two major political parties, sympathetic aspirants were sponsored with huge amounts of funding to join fresh parties with the clear intent to attract followers, which is a major catalyst for political mobilisation in a country like Nigeria.
Specifically, Kano, Lagos and Rivers states are said to have recorded huge success for this aspiration. However, the extent to which these plans work out would largely depend on the acceptance or rejection of these aspirants by the level of awareness created for the voting public, especially through their leaders.
Kwame lbrahim, PhD, is from the African Research Institute and Doctoral School of Safety & Security Services, Budapest, Hungary
Buying Naira with Naira, Rantings And Musings
By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
Under pressure we wail under pressure, under pressure black people under pressure, under pressure Nigerians under pressure. No food in we belly, no money in ah we pocket, no bed we lay we head.
The people dem are suffer, in ah ghetto, in ah city, everywhere dah me go oh, me see them, some are cry, some are die, some are weeping! Some are wailing! Everywhere dah oh eh. Under pressure we wail under pressure, under pressure everybody under pressure, Ras Kimono Under Pressure
You see the Nigerian looks upon Nigeria as a theatre and the entire population representing and manifesting the full spectrum of acts and actors. In this revelry, life is the theatre; the nation is the stage upon which we perform. The politicians and a few of us are the actors, very often mediocre. When stars appear, it is more often because a play must have a star rather than because the player is possessed of some dramatic genius. We saw it with Obasanjo, we saw it with Mr Yar’adua, and with the shoeless one, we are seeing it with the soon-to-end Mr Buhari. We falter and we muff our lines; sometimes our performance takes on an aspect of the grotesque-nobody takes this seriously because it is perceived as being the nature of the play. Our people become the audience.
I once watched with bemusement a deaf and dumb boy who caught his mom with a stranger in bed. When his father came home, the poor young boy was at a loss on how to communicate his discovery. After several futile attempts, the boy ceased trying. The father, on the other hand, patted him, walked into the bedroom and was scolding the wife, he asked her why she was sick, rolling on the bed and could not call for help from the neighbours or the family doctor.
I am not going to talk about the currency redesign brouhaha, because as good a policy as it supposedly is, again, it has exposed the gross behavioural nature of some Nigerians. The central bank, the commercial banks, the bankers, the PoS Operators and the general populace are guilty of varying degrees of culpability.
And, then the fuel palaver, the same one that once upon a time Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said: “This is the winter period. There is always more demand for refined products from petroleum during winter in colder countries. This is what we are experiencing now.” Today, I guess it is winter in those places again. And at the black market, the usual trend, is certainly high petrol prices, unavailable and weak Naira, low minimum wage and increasing poverty.
Legislators are neither here nor there; governors’ are not sure where they stand. In all the noise the product disappears. Transportation fare increases, food prices skyrocket…a nation that has a disconnect between the ruled and its rulers, like the deaf and dumb boy, his mother, the stranger and his father.
The fact is, our currency wahala, and fuel palaver are not the government’s problem. What are we really subsidising? Is it the high cost of energy or unavailable petroleum products? Nigerians are tired, hungry and not in protest mode. There’s no fuel scarcity but fuel criminality because leadership lacks the will.
Where are the refineries promised, all gone with the wind called Turn Around Maintenance! There is no PMS in the fuel station, but unregistered marketers/blackmarkers all have the commodity… a continued rationalisation and justification of absurdities like a commentator put it. It is even more disheartening when the intellectual effort and voice of elites are at the heart of such theatricals due to ethnoreligious cleavages birthed by economic disenfranchisement.
Our major problem is the lack of leadership manifesting itself in every facet of our human endeavours. Some of these areas may be fixable in future if we get the right people with the right policies but how do you fix the future of the mass population of our children who are not getting educated today?
The future of Nigeria is bright, and interesting but scary if we reflect on it. Teachers are illiterate; students can’t go to school because schools are closed down, and alternatives are unaffordable, the change is bleak…
The fuel management chain is a lucrative cankerworm of corruption, our banking system is not exactly different, a serious government can yet tackle it, it’s beyond committees and white papers. It’s action; only action can stop the rot. Nigerians can, I believe we can but we don’t know that we can, and doubt if we are ready.
The reason is simple…we are not just part of the problem, in some cases, we are the problem, when Sunny Okunsun sang;
Which way Nigeria, which way to go? I love my fatherland, o yeah, I want to know; Yes, I want to know. I love my fatherland, which Nigeria is heading to? Many years after independence, we still find it hard to start. How long shall we be patient still we reach the promised land? Let’s save Nigeria, so Nigeria won’t die. Which way Nigeria? Every little thing that goes wrong, we start to blame the government. We know everything that goes wrong, we are part of the government.
Which way Nigeria is heading to? Inefficiency and indiscipline is ruining the country now; corruption here there and everywhere, inflation is very high. We make mistakes in the oil boom, not knowing that was our doom. Some people now have everything, while some have nothing. Which way Nigeria, which way to go?
I end with this encounter, a politician was charged with profanity for calling an opponent a bastard: the politician retorted, “When I call him s.o.b I am not using profanity. I am only referring to the circumstances of his birth”. What is the circumstance of the birth of Nigeria, can anything be done to bring destiny and fate to conjure up some good for us all?
The elites are having a field day, but with each fleeting moment, three facts of life beckon, the rising of the sun, the setting of the moon and truth, only time will tell.
AI Could Completely Transform Interactive Advertising
By Marcellus van der Merwe
In recent months, you have probably seen a plethora of image and text posts produced by artificial intelligence (AI) applications, with DALL-E and ChatGPT featuring as the most popular in their respective fields. For the curious-minded, you may well have already experimented with these or other AI apps. Inevitably, as is the case with any new attention-grabbing app, follows a lot of media speculation on how the application could transform a variety of jobs and industries.
But what about interactive advertising? This is a question worth asking. The sector is, after all, poised to be worth $123.3 billion by 2030. Advertising has also been at the forefront and the driving seat of many major technological shifts that have defined the past two decades. Search and social media, in particular, owe much of their growth and profitability to advertising revenue while also forcing the industry to evolve in new and exciting directions.
AI has the potential to be similarly transformative. While many marketing companies already use AI for numerous functions, including data intelligence and analysis, it’s also clear that marketing is just beginning its AI journey. In the coming years, AI could result in unprecedented evolutionary leaps forward for interactive advertising, especially in creative execution.
Digging through the data
With that in mind, it’s worth reiterating how big a role AI already plays in marketing, with its ability to understand and analyse large amounts of data, in a condensed amount of time. Remember, to provide truly personalised experiences expected from advertisers, large amounts of data are required. However, the task of manually pulling apart data and extracting useful intelligence can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive. AI automates a lot of that heavy lifting whilst ensuring that data is kept accurate and up-to-date.
As a result, marketers alike gain a clearer idea of which channels are able to best deliver against the spend placed on them, as well as the types of messaging working for which segments. This is highly beneficial for an industry that historically had a hard time demonstrating precise value.
It’s also worth noting that many of the platforms so successfully used by marketers are making successful use of AI. Spotify, for example, uses it to ensure its position in the market as the preferred audio streaming platform. AI analyses listener habits and builds custom playlists based on previous listening and serve them to the user on a daily basis, ensuring the music served is curated from previous preferences of audio chosen.
The creative element
AI is already starting to go one step further. Increasingly, it plays an important role in helping marketers deliver creatively excellent, interactive experiences that meet the needs and wants of consumers.
A number of companies, for instance, are already making use of AI-powered chatbots to ensure their consumers are directed to the correct products or services. This approach recognises that marketing can play an important role in providing great customer experiences. It is also one that we can expect to see employed more frequently in the future, having been successfully applied to sectors as diverse as make-up and DIY.
But the text and image creation capabilities of applications such as ChatGPT and DALL-E could easily take those crucial steps further. The conceptualisation would still be done by humans, of course, but there is massive potential for a big shift in interactive advertising. Imagine, for example, being able to provide text, visual, and even audio-visual marketing experiences (the same AI tech used in deep fakes has legitimate uses, too) that are truly unique to every consumer who sees them.
With those abilities locked in, advertising agencies can surprise and delight customers in new and innovative ways. For example, with in-store or event activations, if consumers were able to see their own customised creative in just a few prompts, customers would feel like they’ve created something truly unique for their favourite brand.
Fostering individual connections
Ultimately, you have the potential to achieve a huge shift in how people perceive companies advertising to them. Whereas previously, questions may have arisen from consumers on exactly how companies know so much about them, instead now, they’d simply feel that a company actually ‘gets’ them as individuals. And essentially, instilling feelings of relatability and understanding is foundational to building the kind of real, meaningful, and lasting relationships that every company should strive for.
It’s a future vision on the cusp of becoming a reality. As such, it’s something that all advertisers and marketers should be moving towards and striving to achieve from the get-go.
Marcellus van der Merwe is the Spotify Sales Lead at Ad Dynamo by Aleph
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