The bleach category in the hygiene and households cleaning products segment has always been a competitive market in Nigeria. Every brand is backed by deep-pocketed investors who willingly stake it all just to make the market their fortress.
While the household bleach market is not saturated, it is capital-intensive. This is because new players are known for adopting aggressive TV and outdoor advertising just to capture sizeable market share.
The market has since experienced the introduction of quite a handful of brands —from Jik to Harpic, and now Hypo which reigns supreme. The brand is present in almost every Nigerian household.
Since Multipro Enterprise Limited launched the Hypo brand into the Nigerian bleach market, it has recorded tremendous success. This success now positions the company in direct competition with Jik and Harpic.
How Hypo became market leader: It all started with the guy in a black limousine, whose shining attire was blinding to his admirers. That Hypo commercial wasn’t just memorable because of its catchy phrase “Hypo go wipe o”. Instead, the consistent airing of the ad left it embedded in the people’s sub-consciousness.
The company invested heavily in TV ads and other commercial avenues. The aggressive advertisements at a time competitors were mostly quiet, helped the brand to endear itself to many Nigerians.
Asides its advertising campaign, the brand also launched economy packs to lure lower income earners and the middle-class— a large population size that was ignored by other bleaching brands. This deepened Hypo’s penetration in the market.
Competitors failure: Prior to Hypo’s entry into the market, Jik was the toast of the bleach category. There was the popular phrase “Jik it” which was more or less becoming a national anthem. However, price increase due to economic situation gradually saw demand decline; Jik was no longer affordable to the Nigerian lower-class.
Just like Jik, Harpic’s market entry was more as a premium class in a country dominated by low-income earners. Both Jik and Harpic also focused mostly on the Southern and Western parts of Nigeria while ignoring the Northern population.
Jik and Harpic’s positioning in the bleach market denied them a population size which Hypo took advantage of. The Tolaram subsidiary was positioned for all societal classes in Nigeria, tending to their cleaning needs regardless of the region.
Eight years later, Hypo’s success has overshadowed major brands like Jik and Harpic due to its continuous innovations. Among Nigerian households, Hypo is now synonymous with bleach as Google is synonymous with search.
The Sodium Hypochlorite bleach now comes in two sizes: 65ml Sachet for N30 and 450ml bottle for N400.
Survey favours Hypo: According to a Nairametrics poll conducted on the social media platform, Twitter, Nigerians prefer Hypo when purchasing household bleach products.
Hypo recorded the most votes in the poll, accounting for 58%, with 35% of voters preferring Jik to other household bleaching products. The demand for Harpic products earned 3%, while OMO bleach accounted for 4%.
Hypo might be losing its grip: One of the reasons Hypo took and maintained market leadership in the household bleach market was because of the testimonials of customers who are willing to sacrifice brand name for something new. Now, that same testimony is gradually biting the company. This is because some customers are beginning to assume that Hypo dilutes its bleach product to meet market demand and cut down on cost of operation.
This means that quality is gradually being sacrificed in a bid to remain competitive in the market without increasing production cost and losing profit. The increasing demand for Hypo might be having a negative impact on the company.
Reaction of Customers: Nairametrics spoke with some customers to understand what factors influence their decisions when purchasing bleach in the market. They all gave diverse reasons which streamline the need of customers and help direct the focus of manufacturers during production.
According to one Damilare Famuyiwa, Hypo is the best option for him when doing his laundry and cleaning his toilet. Famuyiwa said he began to use the bleach product after hearing of it from friends and later stumbling on Hypo’s ads.
“I wasn’t a bleach user before Hypo. I never really thought I needed bleach for my clothes, but when my friends won’t stop talking about it, and the constant advertisement, I decided to try it for my clothes. Since I saw the result, I’ve been using it.”
Another ardent user of Hypo, Busayo Fakoyejo, said she stopped using other bleach brands when she heard of Hypo. The testimonials and price of Hypo persuaded Fakoyejo to try it. Ever since, she has continued to use the product to bleach her clothes, but she still prefers Harpic to wash her toilet.
“Before Hypo started to trend in Nigeria, I had stopped using bleach for my clothes. But along the line, when everybody continued talking about Hypo, I used it, and it was good, though I still prefer Harpic when cleaning my toilet. I’m already used to Harpic for toilet.”
Meanwhile, another user, Tola Oyewole, said that apart from the terrible smell of Hypo, the bleach product is better than Jik, stating that the cheap price is enough reason for her to continue using Hypo.
“I’ve even forgotten about Jik. Jik is old school. I use Hypo now because it’s cheaper and works well. What got me initially is their “Hypo go wipe o.” It was weird and funny somehow. But I prefer it even though it smells terribly.”
But Juliet Solomon told Nairametrics that she just prefers Harpic to other household bleach products.
Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats of bleach market
Strength: Nigeria’s population size is a market base that promises growth for any business venture. The country currently boasts of a 104 million urban population across the country, and with less competitors to worry about in the bleach market, there’s enough customer base to go round. Also, bleach has become popular in Nigeria because of the environment. So there’s a growing need for bleach products.
Weakness: To be a product shelved by every mom and pop stores, there is a need for massive investment. First, the bleach market demands that new products slash prices to lure competitors’ loyal customers. Also, there’s a need for media campaign if your product is to penetrate households. This is capital intensive and production needs to be at large scale because demand could be overwhelming.
Opportunity: Consumers are willing to switch loyalty for cheaper household bleach products without considering brand name as experienced by Jik and Harpic. Also, the bleach loyalty is tied to the product that makes the most noise, so entering the market with a cheaper product and aggressive media campaign could just earn your product the leadership position.
Threat: The business environment in Nigeria is a threat to all ventures or companies. The necessary basic amenities that are the responsibility of the government to provide, are taken on by entrepreneurs, which means extra costs of production. Also, labour wage limits the spending ability of the lower and middle classes in Nigeria.
Conclusion: The growth of products in the household bleach market in Nigeria is determined by three forces: product price, media campaign and customers’ willingness to switch loyalty. These factors can make or mar a bleach company, which makes the market unpredictable because your dominance doesn’t guaranty continuity for a present market leader; your profit is constantly threatened by new entrants with deeper pockets.