In Nigeria, millions of people brush their teeth with different brands of toothpaste every day. The country’s large population size provides immense potentials for toothpaste manufacturers hoping to take their shares of the market. This explains why there are at least thirty different toothpaste brands available in the Nigerian market, examples of which are Dabur, Oral-B, Pepsodent, Colgate, Close-Up, etc. Out of the lot, we have chosen to compare Close-Up and Oral-B in this week’s battle of the substitutes.
The history of Close-Up in Nigeria
Close-Up has had a long and successful history in Nigeria ever since its introduction in 1975 by Unilever. Being the only brand in the market for many years enabled it to garner millions of loyal consumers. Today, the brand is still one of the biggest in the country, thanks to good marketing strategies and widespread distribution channels.
Also, Close-Up is constantly being enhanced through innovation in quality, even as it is given needful visibility through creative advertisements. All these have helped to sustain its success.
Close-Up Nigeria is part of a global, very successful brand of gel toothpaste available in North America (USA and Canada), as well as India, Sri Lanka, etc. In Nigeria, the toothpaste brand is still manufactured by Unilever Nigeria Plc.
Oral-B is relatively new in the market, having just been introduced in 2011. This makes it more than thirty years younger than Close-Up. Judging by its relative popularity and success however, it is almost difficult to believe that it has existed for barely a few years. Apparently, Oral-B is leveraging its quality standard and the impeccable track records of Procter & Gamble (its manufacturer) to ensure success.
Much like Close-Up, Oral-B is a global brand. In Nigeria, it is constantly undergoing modification and offering variants to consumers even as strategic advertisement is used to keep it visible.
Similarities between Close-Up and Oral-B
Virtually all toothpaste are composed of the same ingredients. What makes them unique, therefore, is the formulation, the packaging, and the marketing strategy utilised to sell the products’ benefits to the target audience. In this vein, both Close-Up and Oral-B are quality brands. According to Nneka Emmanuel who uses Oral-B and Close-Up, “Both are good in terms of quality. Before the introduction of Oral-B, I used to only brush my teeth with Close-Up toothpaste. When Oral-B came and I tried it, I liked it immediately, just as much as I like Close-Up. So, I’ve been using both alternately ever since.”
Both brands are also manufactured by very reputable companies with good pedigrees. Procter & Gamble and Unilever are two of the biggest consumer goods producers in Nigeria, and indeed the world. For many years, they have been producing essential products that are used every day by Nigerians.
The products are also well-marketed. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons why Close-Up has remained relevant till date is because of the effective marketing strategy adopted by its manufacturer. Similarly, Oral-B was able to achieve astronomical growth, thanks in part to effective marketing.
Both Close-Up and Oral-B engage in relevant corporate social responsibility. Unilever is known to sponsor several youth programmes on university campuses during which it shares its products, specifically the different variants of Close-Up. Likewise, P&G regularly embarks on CSR missions, providing free dental checks to Nigerians.
Finally, both brands offer different tube sizes such as 140g, 140g x2, 140g x3, etc. All of these go for similar prices. In the same vein, the brands offer variants such as herbal, deep action, etc.
Differences between Close-Up and Oral-B
Aside from the fact that Close-Up is over thirty years older than Oral-B, other factors help to differentiate between them. These factors include taste, colour, and packaging. For instance, while Close-Up products are predominantly red (as the herbals), Oral-B is mostly turquoise blue. Same goes for their packaging.
Another difference between them is the fact that Close-Up has a 30g X2, sachet-packed product in the market. This helps Close-Up to reach consumers of different financial capacities. Oral-B currently does not have such an offering in the market.
From our interaction with some toothpaste users in Lagos, it is obvious that not only is Close-Up still popular in the country, it is also widely used. Most of the respondents noted that they have literarily used Close-Up all their lives.
“Close-Up is the only toothpaste brand I’ve used all my life. I like the smell, the taste, the colour and the effect it has in my mouth. I also like the fact that the prices have remained consistently affordable. Also, they now offer variants of herbal and whatnot. I like it.” said Tunde, a teacher resident in Lagos.
Others like Nneka Emmanuel said that they use Close-Up most of the time, but also alternate it with Oral-B, especially when they cannot easily access Close-Up.
Also, some others said that they switched completely from Close-Up to Oral-B because they think that the latter has more to offer.
“For many years, I used Close-Up. But after I came across Oral-B and tried it, I had to ditch Close-Up immediately. Today, my family and I use Oral-B. To be frank, Oral-B offers a greater advantage. That’s the only reason why it has done so well within the short time it’s been around” said Mrs Ajao, a banker.
Meanwhile, Mama Lateef, a neighbourhood convenient store owner in Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos said that although her customers buy both Close-Up and Oral-B, she typically runs out of the former first. Speaking further, she said that the reason for this is “…because Close-Up has been around for a long, long time and attracted a lot of fans. I myself use only Close-Up, especially the herbal type.”
As always, we conducted a Twitter poll as a way of gathering more data for our comparison. In the poll, we asked our followers to choose their best brand among Close-Up, Oral-B, Colgate and any other toothpaste brand(s). Out of the total number of respondents, 32% said that Close-Up is their favourite. This is closely followed by Oral-B, which 29% of respondents said is their favourite. Colgate came in third place with a 25% vote, while 14% of the votes went to the others.
This poll result is indicative of the close competition between Oral-B and Close-Up – one of the reasons we chose to compare the two. It also clearly shows that many Nigerians still like the pioneering toothpaste brand in Nigeria. Therefore, based on these findings, we declare Close-Up the winner of this week’s battle of the substitutes.
COVID -19 saving Nigerians millions in wedding and burial costs
As long as the pandemic persists, the ‘new normal’ is for ceremonies to remain subdued.
It was a sunny Saturday in May and like it had been for the better part of 8 weeks, the new normal was in force in Nosa’s household. The lockdown induced COVID-19 meant that all the hustle and bustle of giving attention to side hustles on weekends had all evaporated. Now he spent more time with his kids watching TV and playing video games. Whilst he has had to endure multiple weekends of lost revenue, staying indoors meant that his personal finance was still intact. But things would change dramatically this weekend.
Nosa got a call that he had just lost his aged mother to a brief illness. He had been battling with a terminal illness for years, but things seemed to be under control so her death came as a surprise. Even as he grappled with the thought of losing his mother, Nosa knew that he had to start making preparations for the expenses that are bound to come with burials in an African setting.
Thanks to the pandemic, and rules that came with it, Nosa ended up spending much less than he would have for his mother’s burial with most of the funds going towards mortuary expenses, transport and the direct cost of the actual burial itself.
READ ALSO: Post COVID-19: The Challenges Ahead
“This COVID-19 is bad but it has saved me millions of naira that I would have spent in this burial,” he remarked.
“I wanted to give my mom a befitting burial but these are hard times and I may have borrowed money just to fund this. But with COVID-19 and social distancing in place I did not have to do any of this,” Nosa informs our reporter.
Nosa’s gains translate to massive losses for a whole chain of service providers in the event management industry. Similar occurrences over the last few months have resulted in the loss of revenue for such businesses.
Events in Nigeria often cost anywhere between half a million naira to over N100 million depending on the financial muscle of those spending. Burials, weddings, naming ceremonies and birthday parties, make a burgeoning industry that spans several sectors of the economy.
From mortuaries to casket makers, event planners, event Halls rentals, professional mourners, caterers, confectionaries, party rentals, photographers, video editors, tailors, newspapers , etc, its an entire value chain of businesses that provide one service or the other for this industry.
Each of these events cost millions of naira to organize hosting as many people as the budget can support. According to a CNN article quoting a report from TNS Global, Nigerians spend as much as $9,460 for a wedding ceremony. The report also indicates the party industry could be worth as high as $17 million based on statistics in 2017.
The math can be easily deducted. Assuming 50,000 ceremonies every weekend at an average cost of N1 million that is a N50 billion per weekend or N2.7 trillion ($6.75 billion) per annum. GDP data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicates sectors that support the ceremonies market in Nigeria, telecoms, transportation, Arts and Entertainment is worth a combined N18.4 trillion.
Chuks, a Partner at a top consulting firm in Nigeria admits were it not for the pandemic his wedding could have cost him about N15 million personally and another N20 million spent by family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers. He is in his forties and his wedding had been much anticipated. He went ahead with his wedding last weekend with less than a dozen people in attendance and over 140 others logging on via Zoom. He claims while he ended up not spending millions on food, drinks, wedding halls and other logistic costs, he still achieved his goal of getting married.
Necessity they say is the mother of invention and has millions stay locked in their homes, they have resorted to apps such as Zoom, Instagram Live, Microsoft Teams to hold virtual events. These days Zoom themed parties now have their own rules and conventions. Friends from all parts of the world log in with each person taking turns to say nice things about the celebrants. Games are conducted to spice up the event and stories told by the celebrant. Music is also played by the Zoom host with participants dancing and having fun.
“It is like watching a live movie and also being part of it as the audience and participant” a wedding planner informed Nairametrics. Whilst one cannot underrate the connection physical socializing brings, virtual meetings are gradually becoming a lifestyle and the longer social distancing continues its cultural significance will only continue to increase.
Aderonke Adebamibola, CEO of Unik Ushering Agency, an Event management firm, confirmed to Nairametrics that business has really slowed down in the last few months. “Even though the NCDC has now given rules to guide weddings and other events, the budget now is way less than it used to be due to the cap on numbers of guests” she explained.
Now, most events are kept within the premises of family residences, depriving hall rentals, the money they could have made from leasing out their halls. Venue decorators also have much less on their hands to do, as they no longer have to decorate big halls.
According to Adebamibola, every single business in the chain has been affected, from caterers to ushers.
“Now, we even have to convince them to use one or two ushers for their events because they believe they don’t need ushers for 20 or 30 guests. Caterers cannot even cook a half bag of rice now because of the number of guests. This means that they are also paid less for their services, even if they expend the same energy and time” she said.
The new normal in this industry means that the things that used to be prioritized are no longer priorities. Hand sanitisers, face masks and hand washing equipment are now compulsories in events, while the hand-shaking, and hugs that would have characterized such weddings.
Due to the nature of the industry, a large percentage of the staff are kept on contract basis, so the reduction has not really translated into lay-offs. However, the industry revenue has been badly hit. A contract staff with NPU Events, who preferred anonymity, noted that in the last three months, she has only been called twice for events.
Since this forms a major part of her income, it has caused a major dip in her resources. COVID-19 has brought unwanted hardship to the Nigerian economy with small businesses and workers in the informal sector suffering the most.
A recent World Bank report indicates the Nigerian economy might contract by as much as 3% in GDP growth rate this year. This informed government’s latest decision to inject about N2.3 trillion into the economy to spur economic growth. The funds will be targeted at small businesses through non-collateralized low-interest loans. Whilst all these initiatives are geared towards stimulating the economy, the spending power of Nigerians will remain pivotal and as long as the pandemic persists, ceremonies will remain subdued.
BHH Podcast: What 2020 holds for SMEs (2) – Ugodre
Business Half Hour (BHH) is a weekly podcast targeted at Startups and Entrepreneurs, who are redefining the Nigerian business scene through innovation.
Business Half Hour (BHH) is a weekly podcast targeted at Startups and Entrepreneurs, who are redefining the Nigerian business scene through innovation.
In this episode of #BHH, Ugodre gave an insight into how business climate would be for SMEs and an overall outlook on the global and national economy. Enjoy!
Ikeja Electric, GRA Ikeja residents sign contract to deliver 20 hours daily power supply
Ikeja Electric (IE) announced it has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with residents of Ikeja GRA to deliver “up to 24 hours of supply daily”. The company tweeted this on Friday revealing that it is in line with the company’s Bilateral Power Agreement.
However, the company representatives explain that it is a minimum of 20 hours of power supply for residents of the association. Ikeja GRA includes streets like Oduduwa, Isaac John, Joel Ogunaike, Fani Kayode, etc.
Ikeja Electric signs bilateral Power Agreement with Ikeja GRA.
…Residents to enjoy up to 24 hours of supply daily. pic.twitter.com/13ue5K1wqw
— Ikeja Electric (@IkejaElectric) October 11, 2019
In its previous Power Purchase deal with Magodo Residents, it stated that “with the agreement, IE will provide the residents with electricity supply beyond the existing standards, with guaranteed performance levels. In addition, there will also be access to dedicated Customer Care and Technical teams for prompt resolution of queries and/or technical issues within the estate.”
Also, the Chief Operating Officer, IE, Mrs. Folake Soetan expressed confidence in the success of the trend-setting agreement, which she noted was in line with the Federal Government’s willing seller, willing buyer policy.
What this means: The Power Purchase Agreement suggests residents of the Ikeja GRA will enjoy a steady power supply when compared to non-residents. However, they will have to pay tariffs much higher than is provided for in MYTO. Residents in Magodo who currently enjoy a similar arrangement informed Nairametrics that they pay higher tariffs but have enjoyed regular power supply and often go days without a power cut.
They also explain that even when the power cuts they get messages from Ikeja Electric explaining why the power was cut and indicating when it will return. We understand Ikeja Electric still relies on the grid to deliver this power as such power cuts will still be expected in the transmission and distribution end.
Backstory: In August, Ikeja Electric announced it signed a similar power purchase agreement with residents of Magodo, providing them a power supply of up to 20 hours daily. Residents of Magodo, have enjoyed steady power since then and are thought to be paying about N47 per kilowatt-hour of power compared to the MYTO tariff which is N23.10 for residential customers.
Sources with knowledge of the transaction indicate Ikeja Electric is likely to extend this arrangement to other estates within Lagos, in a move that disrupts the power sector dynamics. Residents in the Eko Franchise area seeking regular power supply have also demanded a similar deal and are ready to pay for a tariff that is higher than the MYTO approved tariff for general customers.
It is however not clear if the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC has approved this arrangement.