By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU
There is a raging fiercely fought battle for market leadership among food seasoning brands in the country. This ruthless war for market dominance and greater brand equity, has pitched one brand against another.
Seasonings such as Knorr Maggi, and Royco have devised different market strategy to to have an edge over close competitors.
The importance of food seasoning in preparation of any delicacies can not be overemphasized. Thus, in many homes, adequate care is taken to go for the best seasoning brand .
Since Unilever Nigeria Plc took over the manufacturing and sale of Knorr seasoning from Cadbury Nigeria Plc in December 2005, there’s been a clear battle line drawn between Nestle Nigeria Plc, producers of Maggi seasoning and Unilever.
Today, Maggi is gradually being threatened out of its number one position by Knorr going by the findings of this newspaper.
Virtually, in almost every meal served in the restaurants or in any social gathering, be it stew, vegetable soup, jollof rice, fried rice, beans porridge, moi moi, you will not miss the taste of these seasonings.
Nigeria’s seasoning market boasts of so many brands such as Maggi from the staple of Nestle Foods; Knorr and Royco, from the staple of Unilever.
In spite of the keen competition in this food and beverages subsector of the consumer market, new entrants continue to pour in, creating a robust competition.
In the past, Doyin Group of Companies; Unilever Nigeria; Daily Need Nigeria Limited and Nestle Nigeria Plc were leading players dominating the market. Then, Unilever’s Royco Seasoning Powder variants – one for stew and the other for soup, and the popular Maggi brand successfully caused a stir in the market. The entry of more brands, however, is unsettling dominant brands, while incursion of powder seasoning such as Onga seasoning powder with its variants has provided alternative for consumers. Yet the cube market has remained huge.
While big corporate brands such as Unilever and Nestle appeared intimidated with the level of sophistication of the technology, which drives innovation, market followers such as Doyin Group of Companies, manufacturers of Doyin cubes and Daily Need, manufacturers of Suppy brand have made little inroad into the market which has other strong brand, Knorr, that has carved out a niche for itself in the seasoning market over the years.
Knorr cubes, after it was bought over in 2005 from Cadbury Nigeria by Unilever, has remained a force to be reckon with, and now threatening to takeover fully market leadership.
While preparing any meal, you would definitely use one of these seasonings; Knorr, Maggi, Royco, Doyin, Jumbo, Suppy or the Monosodium Glutamates (MSGs); A-One, Vedan, Ajino Moto, Sasa, Tasty King or the latest in the market, Onga.
owever, one question that constantly arises is which of these brands could pass for the market leader or the most popular in the market?
Before now, Maggi had occupied a big space in the hearts of consumers as a result of its marketing communication activities, which has endeared the brand to consumers.
Most popular is it’s annual “Cook for Mama” competition, and recently, its Maggi Million and More Promo that produced 13 millionaires in 13 weeks, as well as some advertising materials churned out by Nestle to further entrench the brand’s relevance in the market.
Knorr is not left out in the fray, as it deployed the Cook ‘n’ Win promotion, where winners received cars as prizes.
Meanwhile, this newspaper’s investigation showed from a recent random survey across Lagos, that Maggi controls about 43 per cent of the market compared to Knorr’s 41 per cent.
The result revealed that Maggi, the oldest in the market, is facing a serious challenge in the leadership position, despite being the first to come into the market.
The survey which was carried out mostly among women in the age bracket of 21 -45, and restaurants was designed to find out the flavour, taste, aroma, salt level, price and promotional activities of the brands.
Probing further into public acceptance and perception of the brands, it was noticed that both seasonings are readily available at supermarkets, open markets and street shops, and well packaged too, which respondents say they liked.
The survey also revealed that the double Knorr sells for N10:00, while Maggi of the same size goes for same price.
However, 45 per cent of the respondents said the price of Knorr was worth the value offered by the product, While 55 per cent said the price was on the high side compared to Maggi On taste, 60 per cent preferred Knorr taste for its salt level, against Maggi’s 40 per cent.
While Knorr is working assiduously to outwit Maggi, one area Knorr has not got it right in the perception of customers, is in advertising and promotional activities.
Accordingly, respondents said Knorr lags behind looking at the way and manner Maggi is going about its promotional engagements..
However, 60 per cent of respondents admit they are aware and could easily recall Maggi’s marketing communication tools on television, radio, billboards, posters, magazines, internet and directional signs and other below-the-line platforms, as well promotional items, compared to 40 per cent respondents who recall Knorr’s promotional activities.
Some respondents interviewed in the survey like Mrs. Kehinde Faloro, a house wife in Lagos, said she switched over to Knorr from Maggi due to the salty nature of Maggi, She said Maggi, when used to prepare a dish makes her miscalculate the amount of salt to add to her cooking.
At Abule Egba market in Lagos Miss. Sandra Eke, said Knorr is the seasoning she uses in her restaurant business, and said it adds more pleasant taste and aroma to her cooking when compared to Maggi.
For Mrs. Fatima Hassan, a retailer at Alaba Suru market in Lagos said, more customers buy Maggi as she sells two cartons daily compared to half a carton of Knorr.
At Tejuosho modern market, Yaba, Amina Oyegbola, a wholesaler told this newspaper that she sells more Maggi than Knorr,but admitted that the margin is small. At Oshodi market, A joke Siyanbolu, a retailer said she prefers Knorr to Maggi, as more people ask for it.
At Sango Oga market, Mrs Alaba Johnson, a wholesaler said she sells more Maggi than Knorr and other brands.
Dr Kayode Ogbole, a brand specialist told this newspaper that ” the food seasoning market is where you witness keen competition, brands have to constantly reinvent themselves, come out with different strategy to outwit the competition. Knorr is coming up strong, and is very popular. It could have taken over ,if it can get its brand communications rights in terms of media exposure and adverts. Maggi has been put on notice. “
By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU