The innovative advancement in the mosquito repellent market came about due to a need to combat the growing cases of malaria in Africa and around the world; albeit in a safe manner. In 2016, there were 216 million malaria cases that led to 440,000 deaths. Most of these deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, 3.2 billion people (almost half of the world’s population) are at risk. Since 2000, malaria has cost Sub-Saharan Africa $300 million each year for case management alone. It is estimated to cost up to 1.3% of Gross Domestic Product in Africa, according to UNICEF report.
Otapiapia used to be a household choice for keeping away mosquitoes, but the local mosquito repellent had its wings clipped by mosquito coils later in the 1990s. However, development and urbanisation have rendered both repellents redundant, due to the introduction of insecticide spray products such as Raid, Rambo, Sniper, Mortein, and many other repellents in the market; all of which are sold at the price of N1000 and above.
With many brands jostling for market share, Nairametrics carried out a survey to see which of them is gaining dominance. One of them actually stood out, for a reason that seems more quirky than rational. Read on to find out which brand we are talking about and why it leads the market over other innovation-conscious brands. Welcome to this week’s product review.
The transition from cheap product to premium repellents
With the saturation of the insecticide market with various brands, it is surprising to note that the prices are still high. One might also be curious to know why the initial cheaper repellents were dumped for more expensive options.
Although otapiapia and mosquito coils might fit into the standard of living for the lower classes, they come with repercussions that are damaging to human organs whilst contributing to the mortality rate in Nigeria. This has prompted the call for their disuse by medical professionals.
Otapiapia has been described as harmful to the liver, kidney, especially when people are exposed to its fumes for too long. Meanwhile, mosquito coils have often been linked to possible lung cancer.
The continuous campaign against these two mosquito repellents led to the rise of the insecticide spray products. And even though these anti-mosquito liquid vaporizer products also have side effects, these side effects are often short-term when compared to otapiapia and mosquito coils. Innovation has also seen the companies find solutions to their awful and harmful smells through their odourless products. Ironically, despite Mortein and Raid leading the odourless campaign, Nigerians prefer Sniper in combating mosquitoes.
Poll favours Sniper: A Nairametrics poll conducted on the social media platform, Twitter, showed that consumers now prefer Sniper when purchasing mosquito repellents.
Out of 480 votes, Sniper recorded the most votes in the poll, accounting for 31%, with 29% of voters preferring Raid to other repellent products. The demand for Mortein earned 28%, while Rambo accounted for 12% of the total votes.
Why Sniper is the consumers’ choice in odourless market
The new innovation in the repellent market is the odourless insecticide vaporizer. While this is clearly absent in the range of Sniper products, Nairametrics observed that Nigerians are unbothered, as they continue to crave its strong and awful smell. To consumers, “smelling is believing” and odourless repellents are just ineffective colognes.
Aside from its smell, the rise of Sniper vaporizer in the repellent market has been largely due to the increasing demand and commercial success of its liquid bottle. The company had launched the spray product hoping to ride on the popularity of the bottled product, and its projection has been right so far, according to a Nairametrics poll.
Its liquid form, packaged in a white bottle, was produced for outdoor use, but some Nigerians are guilty of applying the product indoors. Despite the danger, many believe that the product is more effective. This is why when the indoor Sniper vaporizer was launched, demands for it surged.
While the insecticide market is in dire need of innovation, the latest odourless brands have been blessings to believers and a curse to the producers, as more Nigerians question the effectiveness of the likes of Mortein and Raid, which are leading the drive.
Some wonder what they actually inhale since it’s odourless. Others feel that if humans can’t perceive the smell, then mosquitos won’t as well, thereby leading to the conclusion in some quarters that Mortein and Raid odourless products won’t be as effective as Sniper with the strong odour.
Challenge against Sniper demand
In recent years, there have been multiple deaths linked to Sniper, but not as a result of customers inhaling the product. Reports show that more Nigerians now purchase Sniper as the poison of choice for committing suicide.
The rate of Sniper-linked deaths has caused an uproar among Nigerians, with many calling for the product to be banned, while others request strict rules against the production of Sniper in order to control access to the product.
Note that the campaign against Sniper might affect the demand and availability of the product in the market.
Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat of the Market
Strength: Nigeria is one of the countries still battling malaria in Africa. This means that the market is still in need of mosquito repellent products, especially as both urban and rural areas are not immune to mosquito attacks. So with the working class hitting over 80 million and Nigeria’s population rising above 200 million, the demand for mosquito repellents is bound to increase.
Weakness: The repellent market is hardly weakened by any factor, except for the lack of basic amenities needed for companies to operate in Nigeria. Nigeria’s business environment is not friendly to growth, as companies usually have to cater for their electricity and water supply to operate their businesses.
Opportunity: Mosquito repellent users are in need of cheaper products, even as the cost of treating malaria increases. A new brand can penetrate the market by offering repellent spray at a lower cost compared to the major brands. At times, customers patronize premium products because there’s no cheaper alternative with the same or similar quality.
Threat: The market is threatened by customer preference. At times, innovation might not just be the key to growth, especially in a complex country like Nigeria. Also, issues bordering on health have continued to threaten the market, since there isn’t any clear indication as to if the repellents are hazard free. Customers don’t want to chase away mosquitoes, only to be killed by inhaling chemical.
What consumers are saying
Mass Communicator, Pauline Onaja, said Sniper is more effective than other mosquito repellent products. According to her, other brands only smell without doing the job.
“Sniper is the best among the products available in the market. Sniper really works. Other brands like Raid and Mortein don’t do anything; they just smell all over the house without doing what we buy them for.”
Supporting Onaja’s statement, Fakoyejo Abimbola, said despite the risk attached to Sniper, he chose to use the product for its effectiveness.
“Actually, the popular Sniper product is the outdoor one. This is very effective, but I make sure I don’t use it when I’m at home. But I prefer it because other mosquito repellent smell like perfume to the mosquito, while the effectiveness of the odourless one can’t be weighed.”
A graphic artist and instrumentalist, Gabriel Johnson told Nairametrics that though he prefers otapiapia in freeing his house from mosquitoes, he uses Mortein once in a while.
“Sometimes I use Mortein when otapiapia is not available. I like the two. The mosquitoes in this country are too much for someone to depend on one of them. I like otapiapia because it’s very effective but Mortein is very modern.” Johnson said.
For Chidinma Nwagbara, a media practitioner, her family was loyal to Raid until they became aware of Mortein. She said they switched to Mortein because it’s cheaper and enables them to continue household chores without having to leave the room.
Another customer, Awolowo Oluwaseyi, said Baygon is his preferred choice and would replace it with Mortein, which he described as an air freshener.
Meanwhile, a diverse user, Pharm Habibi, told Nairametrics on Twitter that he uses Raid, Rambo, Read A Dream, Baygon and Tetmosol.
While innovation is good, at times, it could be a major problem especially when customers are not fully briefed on the transformation or changes and the benefits that come with it. This has affected the odourless brands. There is no evidence that these odourless brands perform less than Sniper’s odorous repellents, but customers cling to their perceptions that odour is the key to exterminating mosquitoes and this is where Sniper has the advantage.
It’s important that companies conduct research before embarking on a new journey. Most of the adverts on odourless repellents are lost on YouTube, which shouldn’t be so. Aggressive media campaigns should begin before launch and after the launch of a new product that is different from the norm.