“Acclaimed Nigeria’s Economic Growth, Not Showing in My Fast Food Business”

Fast Food BusinessFunso: I keep wondering about claims in government’s circles on Nigeria’s impressive economic growth. As an owner/operator of fast food business outlets, I am puzzled as our patronage seems stagnant and even declines sometimes. What’s your view, and how should we carry on? – Maggie O.

It is no longer news that Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of more than six percent seems not being felt on the streets. The average Nigerian is not really feeling the impact, hence the likelihood of perceiving it as “one of those government tales”. Experts have ascribed this to more than 85 percent of the government’s income being derived from a sector which is so capital intensive, that there is obviously little room for massive job creation – The oil sector.

The manufacturing, agriculture and retail sectors seem to undergoing a bashing presently, as we know that manufacturing capacity is as low as 30 percent, with other parameters of growth nowhere near the above GDP rating. Who does not know that cheap Chinese finished goods have flooded virtually the entire Nigerian landscape, thus rendering local retail sector almost crippled?

As regards the agriculture sector, even where we are informed that it contributes about 40 percent to this country’s GDP, it subsistence and unattractive nature makes it to be perceived as unrewarding in terms employment. Bear in mind that it’s only when many people are gainfully employed that more of their disposable income can be expended on fast food business outlets like yours.

Since you are puzzled, this information may daze you some more: About 70 percent of Nigeria’s population (almost 113 million people) live under $1.5 patsiku (the globally accepted poverty line), in spite of the country being the 7th largest exporter of crude oil in the world. Komanso, that over 80 million are known to be living in the rural areas (ndi zoonekeratu ambiri wachinsinsi osauka); while the urban poor (who inhabit most of those slums and shanty-towns around) form a significant part of the 13.41 percent of the country’s urban population.

With all these, I am not surprised that you are baffled about claims in government’s circles on Nigeria’s impressive economic growth. Remember the saying, “A dog only agrees a party is going on in the house, when it sees bones all over the ground”.

Komabe, while I realise that such claims as stated above surely affect your fast food business outlets, my advice at this juncture is to refrain from drawing any hasty conclusions. As you must ascertain if something other than factors of the environment are responsible for what you are faced with, a Marketing Audit on your business should be you next best bet. You just have to decipher where the ‘bashing’ is really coming from. Marketing audit depicts a systematic examination or assessment of your business to identify weaknesses in current marketing operations and plan necessary improvements to correct them.

While you are working on really probing what actually is responsible for the patronage of your fast food venture being stagnant and even declining sometimes, I urge you (in the interim) to adopt an approach I have always propagated for businesses that require surviving during hard times or periods of recession, which I tagged “Applying marketing in tough times”. Where you refrain from adhering to this, I perceive your venture not withstanding what is being experienced, and may not be around if the “‘Eldora do” being promised occurs eventually.

Wise moves dictate that controlling costs are vital during difficult times, as relegating marketing activities to the background at such a period could be suicidal to the business. This should be the time ‘wise’ ventures even clamour to expand their sales force and remain vibrant in various facets of marketing. Do not, due to the perception that the tide has changed, your venture’s personal selling activities become down-played or you refrain from marketing activities completely. Mawu amodzi, any move to slash or even emasculate marketing at such hard times amounts toMISTAKE.

Your patronage viewed as stagnant and even declines sometimes, with likely accompanying reduction in earnings, must not make for slash in advertising budget. Such often yields regrettable consequences later on. For in a situation where your fast food venture lowers its promotion budget, while its competitor increases, it is a sure recipe for your brand to perish. You may even end up dropping out of public sight due to such short sighted decisions made about spending money to maintain a high profile.

Such cutbacks on promotion can cause many customers to feel abandoned, and then associate your brand with a lack of staying power. Another likely effect being to drive customers to more aggressive competitors, and can even cause a certain amount of financial mistrust when it comes to making any investments in your no longer visible business.

Ensure you are always available, for you never can tellWhen prospective customers are looking for your type of offering, you’re there, handy and have not closed shop, to do business and earn income. With such occurrence, they are more likely to think of you and not your competitor. This, no doubt, gives you the opportunity of enhancing your company’s name recognition and subsequent likely increase in its market share.

As I am certain it is not only your outfit that is trying to grapple with what you are complaining about, I see your type of business as the type which is even likely to experience increase in patronage as time goes on – An eatery (just like a food store), because “man must wak”, even if times are perceived to be hard.

Something ‘tells me’ you can persevere. Since it occurred to you to even reach out to me, which is an appropriate step towards your success, I promise to help you wade through these hard times. With one’s proficiency in Crisis Marketing, just keep me informed about goings-on in your place.

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