In Nigeria today, there are two main brands of mattresses that are competing for market pre-eminence – Vitafoam and Mouka Foam mattresses. The competition between these two brands is so stiff, that it’s almost impossible to decide which one is superior to the other. But this is a brand war situation and only one brand gets to win or not. So, to find out which one of them actually dominates the market share, we did some research.
About Mouka Foam
Mouka Foam is the first mattress brand ever produced in Nigeria. It is manufactured and marketed by Mouka Ltd, a company that was founded in 1959 with specialities in home and office furniture. Examples of other products manufactured by the company include pillows, duvets, industrial sheets, etc. The company is partnered with Abraaj Group, a multinational corporation.
Mouka Foam has a long distribution chain, with some two hundred and fifty third-party distributors in Nigeria. It also has more than a thousand branded sales points across the country. Its production facilities are strategically located across Nigeria. Indeed, it has achieved brand loyalty status and received several local and international recognition, including the “Mattress Brand of 2017” award bestowed on it by the African Brand Congress Nigeria.
The history of Vitafoam in Nigeria dates back to the year 1962 when a partnership was established between British Vita and Unilever. That same year, Vita products were imported and distributed in the country. But it wasn’t until 1966 when a polyether plant was established in Ikeja, that Vitafoam became really familiarised with the Nigerian market. The company quickly grew to become one of Nigeria’s leading manufacturers of foam products: furniture, polyether, upholstery products, etc. As the company grew, it continued to establish strategically located plants across Nigeria.
By 1978, it had become a publicly traded company on the floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange. By 1995, its revenue base was ₦1.02 billion. Over the years, it has won many local and international awards, including the International Quality Award which it won in the year 2000.
Comparing between Vitafoam and Mouka Foam
Mouka Foam and Vitafoam both emerged onto the Nigerian market at almost the same time. Together, they have dominated the Nigerian furniture market for more than four decades. This is a long enough for both brands to either achieve considerable success in the market or be phased out. Interestingly, both brands have thrived over the years, achieved market loyalty and established themselves as key players in the Nigerian economy.
In terms of products’ prices, both brands offer a wide range of options; similar to each other’s. Vitafoam, for example, has mattresses with prices pegged between ₦21, 000 and ₦50, 000. It also has prices ranging from ₦80, 000, ₦103, 000, and ₦234, 000, etc. This is similar to the price ranges offered by Mouka Foam – ₦41, 856, ₦103, 000 and ₦220, 000.
According to both company’s LinkedIn profiles, Vitafoam has about 247 full-time employees, while Mouka Foam has 233 full-time employees. In all ramifications, both are full-fledged corporations with wide market reach and high stakes in the economy.
But while VitaFoam is a public company that is traded on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mouka Ltd is a privately-held, family-owned enterprise.
As a publicly traded company, Vitafoam’s market share price as at March 20th, 2018 was ₦3. In 2017, the company earned a profit after tax (PAT) of ₦190 million, a sharp decline from the ₦412 million PAT that it earned in 2016. But this recorded poor performance last year was caused by a severely bad economic downturn which equally affected the other companies in the sector.
There are no readily available records to indicate Mouka Ltd’s financial statistics. Attempts to reach them for comment in the course of writing this piece proved abortive. But that notwithstanding, it is safe to assume that it has an impressive financial record. It should be noted that the fact that it is not a publicly-traded company may be the reason for its lack of public financial records. That said, most private companies have more latitude to reinvest income and raise funds if need be.
What the customers say
As part of our research on this topic, we asked some Lagosians to tell us which mattress brand [between Vitafoam and Mouka Foam] makes their sleep “sweeter”. And as expected, they responded. The respondents adjudged the two brands of mattresses based on yardsticks such as affordability, durability, comfort, luxury, etc. In this vein, one of those we interviewed who identified herself as Mrs Okorie, said that she and her family use Mouka Foam at home because the brand is very durable.
Alex, another mattress user in Lagos, said has been using his Vitafoam mattress for almost ten years now and that he still enjoys it whenever he sleeps in it. “Actually, both brands are good. I’ve been to people’s homes where I had to sleep in other mattresses other than mine. But as for me, I think Vitafoam is the best. It is very comfortable to sleep in and equally durable. I’ve owned my Vitafoam mattress for almost ten years now” he said.
Meanwhile, a Twitter poll conducted by Nairametrics revealed that more Nigerians may actually prefer Mouka Foam too. The Twitter poll asked the question- what’s your preferred choice of mattress: Vitafoam or Mouka Mattress? In response, some 84% voted overwhelmingly in support of Mouka Foam, with only 16% voting in support of Vitafoam.
We understand that the data derived from this survey is too small to represent the actual opinion of all mattress users in Nigeria. Yet, based on the small number of people sampled, it is obvious that Vitafoam has a lot more to compete for in the market.
In conclusion, Mouka Foam and Vitafoam are still two of the strongest mattress brands in the Nigerian market. And while some customers may prefer one over the other, it is all a matter of choice. That said, it should be pointed out that inasmuch as both brands are equally successful, there is also the need for both to continually innovate/improve in order for them to consolidate on their successes.
So tell us, which of the two mattresses makes your sleep “sweeter”?