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Let’s Talk Marketing with Mrs Iquo Ukoh – Differentiation in a Saturated Market {RECAP}

Iquo Ukoh
I was privileged to be part of a WhatsApp group discussion during the weekend organized by Reach360 a digital marketing agency and the topic of the discussion was “Differentiation in a Saturated Market” the lead discussant was Mrs Iquo Ukoh a marketing guru with over 30 years experience in the FMCG industry, diverse lessons were learnt and knowledge shared, so I thought it worthy to share here on analyst consult so everyone can bebnefit.
Introduction from the Moderator
With experience spanning well over 3 decades, Mrs Ukoh packs a punch when it comes to Marketing Communication. She is a distinguished fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Marketing and a passionate Business Strategist and Speaker. Her capacity to understand consumer behaviour, analyse markets and interpret insights has seen her strongly position several brands. After spending over 30 years in Nestle, she currently runs her Marketing and Culinary firm; Entod Marketing and 1QFoodPlatter.  It is my pleasure to welcome Mrs Iquo Ukoh.
Let’s get into the conversation proper by asking you what specific things one can do to differentiate a product/service in a saturated market?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
1⃣First is that you have to understand the category you play in, who are the competitors, what are they doing?
2⃣Next is to do a SWOT analysis of your top 3-5 competitors
3⃣Also do a SWOT of your product or service.
4⃣Improve on your weakness and close the gap…..Note your strength, hopefully, you have some, and capitalise/ strengthen this…..sounds simple but requires deep and careful strategies
Sometimes simple strategic directions could make a huge difference for example
1, Improve how your sales or marketing people talk to customers
2, Your response time to customer requests could and should be fast
3, How you deal with customer/consumer complaints with speed would help
4, Even your tone in marketing communication could affect patronage etc
Today more than ever before Consumer is King.?, so treat them with respect and care
You talked about focusing on strengths.  Great!  What will you advise anyone to do with their business weakness?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Ensure you always listen to the consumer because this is where the complaints would come from and you would easily identify your weaknesses from them
Take necessary steps to correct product, quality or service
If it has to do with distribution or product availability your sales people just have to do their job
As a business leader, monitoring must be key then?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Yes absolutely. Good listening ability would help to pick even the unsaid words from the consumers and customers.
Great! Moving on swiftly to the next question. Is product/service differentiation by price a wise differentiating strategy in the long term?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Pricing is guided by cost of production, volume and financial objective of the business; competitive environment; positioning of the product; quality of your product; your target consumer and strength of your brand.
A price war is hardly sustainable unless of course you have set up the business to lose money.
Tread the path of pricing with caution as you may devalue your brand, particularly if you try to drop price. Whilst some consumers like ‘ gbanjo’, the same ones become suspicious when you drop your price too low depending on the original perception of the brand.
Don’t we all get uncomfortable when a Rolex wrist watched is hawked on “Agbogbon” bridge in Lagos?
Absolutely lol
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Even in the aircraft industry characterised by high pricing, understandably because of high-cost input, you could go above the consumer expectation.
We saw the current American President ( I have to get used to this ) Donald Trump criticising the contract of Boeing for Air Force 1 planes because of cost…..suggesting that the company was “doing a little bit of a number” with the cost of the next generation of presidential aircraft. Customer is King ?
Let your financial objectives and operating environment guide the pricing policy.
Invest in building strong brands giving the consumer reason to believe you and charge the commensurate value for your brand/product
Great. So you are saying a lot of things come to play when it comes to pricing…
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Correct. Prices are fixed just from the top of our heads.
Sorry not fixed I meant to say
Next question.
We have seen products do well partly because of the name. We have also seen products fail notwithstanding the ‘great and creative’ name. How important are names in product differentiation?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
A Brand is the perception the consumer has about your product. Brand owners strategically position their products to help the consumer have this perception.
A brand name on the other hand indicates the source of the product. Basically who is your ‘father’.The  success or failure of a product may not have anything to do with the brand.
Careful study/research should help the brand owner come up with a strong name that will be acceptable to your consumers devoid of any negative religious or cultural bias.
Cultural bias!!!
I have seen brands do woeful because they didn’t take local perception into play when naming a product
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
For instance, Okon in any Nollywood movie is perceived as a house help. It comes across as a bit derogatory. These are the kinds of cultural sensibilities that should be avoided in naming a brand.
Ladies and Gentlemen,  the floor will be open for audience participation and questions at 7:30pm. Thanks.  Let’s do a bit of scenario creation now
Inline image 1
Product A and B are two competing products from different companies and consumers in this space largely make buying decisions through certain factors. On all fronts and counts, both products are at par and they are promoted largely on the same advertising channels. Will you say increasing the advertising spend/frequency of product A will give product A some leverage? Or how does one gain greater market share in an instance like this?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Market Share gains are determined by a lot of factors in the marketing mix.
Media Spend alone will not cut it. The strategy to gain shares has to be well articulated. First ensure you have a good quality product or service. See where your competitor’s business is geographically strong or weak and strategies to win.
Where are they making the most noise?
What are they saying?
What is their pricing and distribution ?strategy?
What is their packaging format strategy etc;
Media noise ???will certainly help your product awareness but be sure you have products available where you are advertising it so the consumer finds the product after having heard of it .
 You may consider some new line extensions of your current brand to help gain fresh traction from consumers.
Great tips. I am learning a lot myself!  Before we open up the floor, here is a question I will like for you to answer
How does one encourage word of mouth marketing for their business?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
???In Nigerian we like to talk. We saw examples from creating this Whatsapp group. Even when the admin had stated guidelines for the group, some people could not help but drop ‘good morning’ or ‘noted’ even when this was not necessary. I guess the name of the group ‘Lets talk Marketing’ was the motivation so people had to start talking.
When you create interesting conversation around your product, it will be talked about.
Events and Social media are platforms where you can start off good conversations about your brand.
Generally, people believe what their friends and families tell them more than what brands say.
So make sure you are generating good conversations and content around your brand and give the average Nigerian something to talk about and we will not disappoint you.
The only snag is we still can’t measure ‘word of mouth’.
Absolutely.  We are ready for the first question from the audience!
Give the Lead Discussant time to answer before the next question drops in
Audience Question 1
Great interview session. Really learning a lot. Got a question here.
What unique marketing strategies can you adopt when introducing a local brand to rival strong foreign brands in the market?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Our music industry is a good indication that local content is preferred to foreign particularly when well packaged. Take for example the way Nigerian musicians are fusing English and the local language and it still has an international flair. Wizkids ojuelegba is a great example
Audience Question 2
In the B2B technology space, what differentiation strategy can you deploy in a situation where you and your competitors offer the same third party products or solutions?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Excellent service delivery will set you apart and excellence in work output as well could make a difference
Audience Question 3
Awesome lessons on marketing, well-conceived initiative.  Please, my question is how does one create relevance and sustain its services within a niche market of an industry, for example out of home advertising?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
I’m aware that most clients are concerned with the state of their boards particularly outside Lagos. A monthly report to client would be a good idea to differentiate.
Audience Question 4
Question; is there any other objective beside profit in a business ?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Your objective could be Social. In some parts of the world, companies measure triple bottom line which involves profit, social impact and environmental impact
Audience Question 5
I would like to ask in an industry like infrastructure /construction where every brand has almost the same offering, it is almost impossible saying what truly stands your brand out. Note that quality is a given as there is already pre-existing minimum quality requirements for projects. What should such a brand be communicating to gain shares??
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Construction is tricky but sometimes something as simple as finishing in Nigeria is an issue. I am aware that Nigerians will bring workers from Togo and Ghana for things like POP because the average Nigerian masons are unable to do this. Sometimes a website can help differentiate your business
Audience Question 6
Is there any local site for comparative analysis of Nigerian products?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
I am currently not aware of any
Audience Question 7
How do you differentiate in a market where the goods are not tangible e.g financial services (loans, savings) … how can this differentiation tie back to sales
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Service delivery in the financial sector especially in Nigeria can be improved upon. A smile from the cashier can make a customers day. You can also create an email marketing campaign where you are providing customers with information that they can use beyond the immediate service you offer
Let’s talk about Influencer Marketing for a short while before we wrap things up because it is a trend that is growing fast even in Nigeria. Are there red flags businesses should look out for when going into it?
Mrs Iquo Ukoh
Towards the end of 2016,Instagram and Facebook were awash with brand campaigns using Social Media Influencers.
My Instagram handle @1qfoodplatter was one of those used for this purpose. The use of influencers has evolved out of the need for brands to have a ‘real person’ talk to their own consumers.
It seems that consumers are tired of hearing and seeing,clinical and ‘overbranded’ messaging of brands.
When using Influencers my advise is that Brand owners should ensure that the Influencers’ personal brand ties in with their Brand personality.
It’s not not all about numbers of friends on Facebook or Followers on Instagram or Twitter.
Does the theme of the influencer platform align with your brand personality?
Some influencers have large following based off on the promotion of their platforms but you hardly find engagement with the followers or friends.
How do you explain an influencer with over 300k followers on Instagram and 20 likes on most of the posts with no comments ???
Brand owners should have clear strategy for using influencers .
Let your agency tell you why you should use a particular influencer.
Try to avoid political advocates. They have large followings but are controversial.
????300k followers and 20 likes. You nailed it.
We are coming to a close for today’s chat
I will like to appreciate our Lead Discussant Mrs Ukoh. Thank you so much for giving of you. Many thanks also to my boss Mrs Yinka Ogunde for making this possible. Thank you everyone.
For questions and other enquiries please contact 08055940019.
My sign off business quote for today is by Chris Grosser “Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.”
Let’s do this again next week Saturday.
Good Night Everyone!
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