With presence in over 40 countries of the world, the Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN) –South Africa, has added Nigerian market to its portfolio. At a launch in Lagos, USN, in collaboration with Mikado Nigeria Limited, rolled out three products; USN Health & Well-being, USN Muscle Gain & Building and USN Weight Loss Toning. The primary reason for coming into the Nigerian market, according to the Managing Director of Mikado, Mr. Mike Ojeme, is to support Nigerians to achieve and live a healthy lifestyle and have fun while doing so.
He said the three ranges in the market have series of health benefits that will be beneficial to consumers in specific ways. “We have three ranges now in the market and each range has series of health benefits. We are in Nigeria market because we saw the need to explore the market and add to the healthy living of Nigerian consumers. Each range will benefit consumers according to their specific goals. We buy into USN dream because we foresee an upsurge in the healthy lifestyle and sports nutrition supplements demand in Nigeria.”
Going down memory lane, he traced the birth of the product to 1999, when it was launched in South Africa but was quick to add that beyond South Africa, the brand is now in about 48 countries of the world. He mentioned the United States of America, Ireland, UK, Australia, Kenya and a few other countries as some of the places where the brand is now present. Ojeme however pointed out that USN product is the market leader in South Africa and one of the leading health supplements in all the countries where it has been launched.
On the target market of the products in Nigeria, the managing director indicated that the target was broad but currently restricted to consumers within the age of 18-35. “We have provisions for all that is why the products’ target cut across all ages and classes. But specifically, our main focus for now is consumers between the ages of 18 and 35. Since the products have to do with the general well-being of the people, every consumer will have something to take away from it. Our research and development team has designed a range of products to meet consumers demand. With USN products, consumers will be able to achieve their target easier, they will be more alert and they will have total control over the way they look by taking charge of the things they do.”
Ojeme admitted that getting consumers acquitted to a new brand name may be a herculean task but took time to explain that the two partners have hired a communication agency to take the message to relevant stakeholders. “Our marketing plans are huge; we are working with a frontline agency called Bluebird Advertising Limited for the deployment of wholly marketing solutions. As we go on with the journey, we will be rolling out various campaigns in the print, outdoor and electronic media. To quickly connect with Nigerians, we will bring on board a compelling brand ambassador as the face of the brand. The ambassador will be moving from one outlet to the other to educate Nigeria about the uniqueness and benefits of the brand.
“In all, we will be using both the Above The Line (ATL) and Below The Line (BTL), communications tools to reach the various segments of the market. Beyond that, we will leverage on the global influence of USN brand to position the brand. While doing this, we will tap from the global communication strategies of the company. As a matter of fact, part of the global plan is to immediately accommodate Nigeria into the company’s global communications master plan. In doing this, the company will domesticate its global campaigns to agree with our local nuances. With this, it is clear that we are not going to operate in isolation.”
Speaking on what informed the choice of his company for the global brand and the resources at his disposal to cover Nigerian market; he rolled out the profile of Mikado and explained the striking cord that attracted the two partners to each other. “For years, USN has searched for a partner that would share its dream and provide the necessary marketing networks for its products. Mikado attracted it because of our experiences in the market in the last two decades. As a company that has special passion for bridging the consumer needs gap in Nigeria and West Africa sub-region, we have successfully partnered with reputable international companies and introduced high quality global brands in Nigeria. We have opened new business opportunities for our existing and former partners in Nigeria. To get USN products across to consumers, we rely on our nationwide marketing network. We have resources and logistics that will make us be able to distribute with ease across all the states in Nigeria and even Ghana and some other West African countries.”
Aside the global influence of the products, Ojeme made reference to the approval the company got from NAFDAC and other international bodies as some of the steps that have confirmed the quality of the brand. “Just as we have undergone NAFDAC screening in Nigeria and got approval, our products have undergone the best of screening internationally to ascertain their originality and naturalness. They have been tested to be quality products that do not contain things that can be injurious to people. Our major mission in all the markets is to champion the campaign for healthy living and bring to the table products that can promote general well-being. Another major thing we have always done in all the markets is to educate our potential consumers. Over the years, we have seen examples of people dying or getting into more trouble by abusing drugs, even tablet for malaria, just because they are not well educated or choose to listen to their own voices. That is why we have decided to organise training sessions for our channel managers, sales representatives and some consumers. From the feedback we got from the classes we had in Lagos, we discovered that Nigerians appreciated the approach and we will make sure we do not stop at that. It will be a continuous exercise.”
Rather than allowing intimidation from competitions to scuttle their plans for the market, Ojeme said the two companies are confident because of what they are bringing into the table. Though the team, according to him, agrees with the fact that Nigerian consumers are sophisticated and aware of the robustness of the market, he was quick to point out that the two companies have done their homework very well to be able to navigate the market.
“We have done our homework very well to be able to operate seamlessly. In a sophisticated market like Nigeria, what is required to win is to bring quality into the table, which we have done with our products. The partnership between USN and Mikado is a strategic move to reach the nooks and crannies of the wide market. Then we have gotten good market and communication plans to take the message to potential consumers wherever they are. With this, we don’t see problem of competition but opportunities in the market. With the knowledge sharing platform we created, we have been able to tell consumers what we have, how to get them and how to use them. As a premium brand that has its footprints on the international market and no 1 in many countries, USN products are easy to market and that will give us an edge over competition. If consumers google USN, they will be moved by the number of ambassadors; sportsmen and women, who are championing the cause of the brand,” he stated.