In a society like Nigeria, peculiar challenges exist in transferring brand messages across various demographics, see how the industry can stay ahead
To start off, let us get the basics out of the way with a few definitions.
The Oxford dictionary defines communication as “the imparting or exchanging of information…” through a particular medium(s) which could be traditional (TV, Radio, Newspapers, etc.) or non- traditional (mostly digital/ unconventional) media. Oxford also defines Marketing as the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
When communicating, it is, however, important to ensure that you are not just communicating, but doing so effectively. Effective communication occurs when “the intended message is delivered, received and understood”. Marketing, however, is largely dependent on effective communication as it involves passing the right message around goods and/or services, delivered at the most accurate connection moments thus ensuring receptiveness and understanding by your desired audience. Therefore to market successfully, communication must be effective.
As with any country or audience, communicating effectively within Nigeria requires at minimum, a basic understanding of Who you are talking to, What appeals to them and Where the most suitable place to expose your message is.
I will briefly touch on the regional peculiarities of Nigeria which serves as a guide on how to craft your message and the evolution of the population make up which guides you on where to expose this message. Nigeria is broadly divided into three parts: The West, The North and The East. Understanding the regional peculiarities is paramount to ensuring that communication is crafted in a manner that ensures relevance and resonance.
The West is characterised by a large number of urban cities and is the most internationally oriented region with cities such as Lagos. This means that communication and marketing within this region should ideally comprise of international cues being that this is what appeals to the people within this area.
The North being more conservative due to the high concentration of Muslims means that communication within this area cannot be perceived as “risqué” as it could be in other regions. One must ensure that religious sensitivities are taken into cognisance as that could make or break a brand. The exception, in this case, is Abuja which has more similarities to the Western cities than the rest of its Northern counterparts.
Last but not least, the Eastern zone of Nigeria. This region is home to the Igbos, who at their very core value their heritage. Leveraging the importance of local pride in communication and marketing is key to unlocking relevance and resonance within this region.
Nigerians are generally proud of where they come from but understanding the largely fragmented nature of what appeals to the Nigerian audience could be the difference between achieving your communication and marketing objectives or not.
In a country of over one hundred and fifty million people, Nigeria has a healthy spread across the different age categories. The evolution of the population makeup makes it necessary for the communication source to understand the lifestyle of its intended audience. Depending on who one is trying to appeal to, one must evolve with the population. For example, choosing a brand based on its communication style in my teenage years as a student is subject to change in my more adult years as a young professional or even as a mother. It is important for marketing professionals to understand the lifestyle of the people to whom they are trying to communicate with. While the individual is growing older and going through changes, a brand which has the objective of appealing to teenagers must ensure that it also evolves to suit the preference of the new generation of teenagers — what appealed to teenagers in the ’80s is very different from what appeals to teenagers today. However, the brand must retain its appeal to its chosen TA and this can be done through communicating effectively.
A second leg to understanding the generational makeup when communicating within Nigeria is determining the medium through which one decides to expose their communication. It is not enough to develop effective communication material without ensuring that it reaches your desired audience. Depending on who you are trying to reach, there will be a preference for Traditional Media or Non-Traditional Media. If you are trying to reach the millennials who are always on the go, Non- Traditional media forms will be most appropriate e.g. Digital, Social Media, etc. Communication intended to reach a significantly more mature audience (65 and above) will, for the most part, do better on Traditional Media platforms. This is an extra layer to consider in addition to the regional peculiarities when communicating and marketing to the Nigerian audience. Much like an onion, there are many layers to consider when communicating and marketing to the Nigerian audience and, the more you uncover and analyse, the more effective your communication and marketing are.
In conclusion, as marketing professionals, we must acknowledge the importance of understanding the fundamental principles that guide communication and marketing. However, within the beautifully complex and fragmented context of Nigeria, one must apply layers of considerations to successfully communicate.
Chinwe Is an experienced Assistant Brand Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the food & beverages industry. Skilled in Strategic Negotiations, Analytical Skills, Quantitative Data, Organisational Leadership, and Market Research. Strong marketing professional with a Master of Science (MSc) focused in Management from London School of Economics and Political Science.