Lagos, Tuesday 30 November 2020 – As we experience the first-ever Black Friday promotional phenomenon under lockdown, the dominance of online shopping platforms has become crystal clear.
To keep track of this development Nielsen Global Connect has conducted extensive research that includes an overarching view of the massive increase in online FMCG shopping and just how rapidly it evolved over the first six months of lockdown.
Nielsen Connect, Global Intelligence Unit, Executive Director Ailsa Wingfield comments; “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, online FMCG shopping usage has advanced by up to five years in just six short months. As a result, there has been a rapid increase in online shopping and usage with new users, frequency and preference having skyrocketed.
Preference of online as the most-used channel has also more than doubled.
Evidence of this results from the Nielsen New Shopper Normal Study which was conducted in May 2020 allowing for powerful insight into the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on consumers, during an unprecedented time in our history.
The Nielsen study found that in terms of new Nigerian FMCG online shoppers, 29% had never shopped online. Sixty-seven per cent recently shopped online during the past week and 12% shopped most often online during the past week versus only 7% pre COVID-19. In terms of Frequency, 23% said they shopped online multiple times a week and 44% shopped once a week.
The best of both worlds
Nielsen’s consumer and retail measurement evidence therefore clearly shows a massive and ongoing move to online, but it must be pointed out that this is not in isolation when considering the overall shopping journey. In Nigeria, two-thirds of consumers (67%) say they are now using both online and offline channels with fewer exclusive brick & mortar shoppers at 33%.
Wingfield elaborates; “Overall, consumers are shopping and buying in a mixed reality. In many instances, online shopping options are a new addition to their existing store repertoire but most consumers indicate that they will maintain a combination of online and offline – which will lead to the rise of more omnichannel shopping journeys and experiences.”
Interestingly, this adoption is even more pronounced for ‘Constrained Consumers’ – those who have been impacted by job/income loss. These consumers are less likely to be exclusive Brick & Mortar shoppers as Omni shopping is even more important to help them make better and more frugal choices.
Wingfield adds; “The challenge for retailers is that consumers want equivalent experiences regardless of the environment in which they shop. These are categorised by a seamless experience where the retailer’s online, and bricks and mortar offerings, are connected and offer a similar and familiar shopping experience.”
Still more work to be done
In terms of the remaining obstacles for retailers to overcome and where online needs to work harder, the biggest concern for Nigerian shoppers is delivery which has emerged as the most important factor to get right. 42% of Nigerian consumers stated they wanted same/next-day delivery while 21% said they don’t want to wait when there are no slots available.
When it comes to Price & Promo perceptions, 57% of respondents said online prices had increased, while 22% perceived less online promotion and 17% said online was more expensive. That said, online price perceptions are currently more favourable than offline (brick and mortar) perceptions. They may also improve even further, following the heavy push by retailers of online-only Black Friday and year end seasonal promotions.
Looking to the future
Looking at how consumers’ newfound relationship with online shopping will evolve, Wingfield comments; “We saw that ‘necessity catalysts’ such as safety and precaution considerations and the availability of products initially drew consumers online, but there are still several obstacles to overcome. To sustain online FMCG traction, retailers and brands will need to focus on how they can solve consumers’ changing needs by differentiating their offerings in the Omni shopping journey.”
She goes on to suggest; “They will need to solve for overall satisfaction and experiences in the areas of time, convenience, availability and value based on consumers’ altered circumstances to truly differentiate themselves.”
Nigeria is Africa’s Most Valuable Nation Brand
Nigeria has held its position as Africa’s most valuable nation brand, with a brand value of US$236 billion, according to the latest Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021 report. Despite the turmoil of the pandemic, Nigeria has recorded a 9% increase in brand value – ahead of the 7% average of the overall ranking – and climbed two spots to 38th to reach its highest ever position.
Africa’s largest economy suffered its deepest recession in four decades during the pandemic but has begun its return to growth thanks to the recovery of oil prices as well as the government’s timely fiscal policies to protect the economy. In response to the pandemic, the government also launched an online portal and app aimed at upskilling its population as part of its Digital Nigeria programme and plans to install solar panel equipment on five million households – providing power those not connected to the national grid.
Babatunde Odumeru, Managing Director, Brand Finance Nigeria, commented: “It is thrilling that Nigeria continues to grow its brand value and maintain its position as Africa’s most valuable nation brand. While these results are mainly driven by GDP considerations, we need to start developing a framework that would enable us to get to a place where intangible assets such as innovation and strong brands are what is impacting our GDP.”
Total brand value of top 100 up 7%
The top 100 most valuable nation brands in the world have recorded a 7% increase in brand value since 2020, signalling that recovery is underway from the COVID-19 pandemic according to the latest Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021 report.
Although this is a positive sign, uncertainty still lingers and the recovery has not reached pre-pandemic levels yet. At US$90.8 trillion, this year’s total brand value of the top 100 ranking is 7% lower compared to 2019.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “Unlike previous economic crashes, recovery is uneven and is pinned on the combination of initial COVID-19 response strategies and a successful vaccination rollout. We are starting to turn a corner, as the world’s most valuable nation brands begin to return to pre-pandemic brand values. But results are varied, and it may take years for some to recoup lost brand value, creating even greater disparity between the most and least valuable nation brands.”
US & China lead the pack
There has been no movement in the top 10 this year, with each nation retaining its rank from last year. All the top 10 have recorded a modest uplift in brand value, however, in line with the global trend across the ranking.
The United States and China remain in a league of their own, claiming the first and second spot in the ranking, respectively. The US has recorded a 5% brand value increase to US$24.8 trillion in a year that has been marked by great political and economic change with President Joe Biden taking the helm. Similarly, China saw a 6% uptick in nation brand value to US$19.9 trillion. Both nations have celebrated economic recovery since the outbreak of the pandemic, contributing to their uplift in brand value. China’s economy was the first to recover – doing so at a meteoric pace – as the only nation to register positive GDP growth at the end of 2020 and growing at record pace in the first quarter of this year.
Many thought that relations would improve between the two superpowers under Biden’s leadership, following the turbulent Trump years, but this has not been the case thus far.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “The superpowers from the West and the East unsurprisingly dominate the Brand Finance Nation Brands ranking, with China remaining hot on the heels of long-standing leader, the US. With China’s recovery and economic rise showing no signs of slowing down, as growth hit a record high at the beginning of the year, no doubt the gap will continue to close in the coming years.”
Digital Estonia is world’s fastest-growing nation brand
Recording a 38% brand value growth from last year and outpacing modest increases across the ranking, Estonia is the world’s fastest-growing nation brand of 2021. The Baltic state had invested in digital infrastructure long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Anyone around the world can apply for e-residency in Estonia, which allows them to run an EU-based company online, and a staggering 99% of the country’s governmental services are offered online.
The advanced digitisation of the country put it on the front foot during the pandemic. On the same day the government announced a state of emergency, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications launched an online hackathon to identify solutions to pandemic-induced problems, resulting in a chatbot to answer the public’s queries and the re-purposing of online platforms to match volunteers with those in need.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented:
“Estonia is this year’s fastest-growing nation brand largely thanks to its world-class digital infrastructure. With some of the leading economies having their digital shortcomings highlighted during the pandemic, Estonia’s digital-first model should be one for others to follow.”
Myanmar and Ethiopia are fastest fallers
In stark contrast, Myanmar and Ethiopia are among the fastest-falling nation brands in the ranking. The unrest across the two countries has caused significant damage to their nation brand values, which have dropped 26% and 22%, respectively.
Brazil has also suffered a steep decline in brand value as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on its society and economy. The continent’s largest economy, Brazil has lost 12% of its brand value this year and dropped out of the top 20 in the Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021. Famous for its vibrant culture, lifestyle, and sports, Brazil is the highest-ranked South American nation in the ranking, but the combination of high COVID-19 cases and damage to the agriculture sector from severe droughts have caused substantial damage to the economy.
Switzerland is the world’s strongest nation brand
In addition to measuring nation brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of nation brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating brand investment, brand equity, and brand performance. The nation brand strength methodology includes the results of the Global Soft Power Index – the world’s most comprehensive research study on nation brand perceptions, surveying opinions of over 75,000 people based in more than 100 countries. According to these criteria, Switzerland is the world’s strongest nation brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 83.3 out of 100.
Switzerland’s BSI score has remained stable, while the nations around it saw theirs take a hit, resulting in Switzerland moving to the top spot for brand strength. According to Brand Finance’s research, the Alpine nation saw external perceptions slightly rise following its strong response to COVID-19. It used a mix of compulsory and non-compulsory measures during the pandemic to control the spread of the virus. For example, non-essential businesses had to close, but the government’s order to stay at home was only ever advisory – entrusting the people to make the decision for themselves.
This is reflective of Switzerland’s model of government, with the public allowed to voice their opinions on laws through frequent referenda – last year the population rejected a motion to end its freedom of movement agreement with the EU and voted to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented:
“Small size is no barrier to occupying a solid position for nation brand strength and Switzerland securing the top spot this year is the perfect example. Switzerland has held firm whilst other nations have faltered over the course of the pandemic. The nation has recently been thrust under the spotlight, however, with the leak of the Pandora Papers, which could taint its reputation as Swiss financial advisers are scrutinised on the global stage.”
Germany slips to 5th
Last year’s strongest nation, Germany, has dropped down to 5th position in the brand strength ranking, following a 2.3 point drop in BSI to 82.6 out of 100. Despite garnering praise on the global stage for her strong and stable leadership spanning 16 years, Angela Merkel sees mixed results on home soil. Domestic perceptions are consistently less favourable across the metrics to their overseas counterparts, particularly in regard to the Global Soft Power Index Business & Trade and Influence pillars.
Australia and New Zealand move into top 10
Australia, up five places in the ranking to 6th, and New Zealand, up seven places to 10th, have both entered the top 10 for brand strength, with BSI scores of 81.3 and 80.2 respectively. The Australasian countries were deemed to have handled the early days of the pandemic extremely well. Both were lauded for their severe lockdowns and quick reaction to subsequent outbreaks, which resulted in minimal cases and allowed them to open back up internally considerably earlier than others.
At the time of our research, both scored well across our data points with internal and external perceptions of their handling of the pandemic. However, the vaccine rollout in both countries has lagged behind their global counterparts, which could hamper their BSI scores moving forward.
Breaking the Western monopoly
Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have broken the Western monopoly in the brand strength ranking, claiming 4th and 11th position respectively. Scoring particularly high for Global Soft Power Index pillars of Business & Trade and Governance, Singapore continues to prosper both in the Southeast Asian region as well as globally. The city-state – renowned for its high-quality and economically efficient healthcare – has already fully vaccinated 82% of the total population. Singapore is on the right path to achieve the government’s aim of a “whole new normal”.
The UAE has climbed three spots in the brand strength ranking following a 2.5-point increase in its BSI score to 79.1 out of 100. Overseas perceptions of the nation’s prowess in the Education & Science pillar are high, and the successful Emirates Mars Mission is clearly a factor. The UAE also stands out for its COVID-19 response, and scores high for the Influence and Business & Trade pillars, both of which should see a further boost from Expo 2020 inaugurated in Dubai this month. The UAE’s continued increases in brand strength and value are testament to the nation’s strategy of diversifying its economy for long-term growth.
COVID-19 hurts perceptions of world’s largest economies
At the same time, the UK, US, Japan, and France have all fallen out of the top 10 strongest nation brands ranking due to the perception of how they handled COVID-19.
The UK, falling from 2nd to 14th with a BSI score of 77.4, and France, falling from 9th to 16th with a score of 75.4, recorded average Global Soft Power Index scores for overseas perceptions of their handling of the pandemic, but perceptions domestically were particularly low.
Japan, falling from 7th to 15th with a score of 76.7, saw a similar story with the perception at home that the pandemic was mishandled. However, this is polarised when compared to their perception abroad, where it achieved some of the highest scores in the Global Soft Power Index research.
The US, dropping from 4th to 17th with a score of 75.1, saw poor scores at home and abroad, and was also one of the lowest ranked nations by the specialists.
Despite their brand strength taking a hit, these nations all still feature in an unchanged top 10 when ranked by nation brand value.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “It will be important for the world’s largest economies to focus on making up the ground they have lost in brand strength, in order to protect their brand value. The UK, US, Japan, and France have all scored poorly domestically for their handling of COVID and they need to rebuild this trust with their respective populations.”
Nigerian Retail-Tech Startup Alerzo Acquires Shago Payments To Boost Growth
Alerzo, a Nigerian retail-tech startup has acquired fintech company Shago Payments to boost growth. The acquisition of Shago payments will enable the integration of Shago into the company’s payments arm, AlerzoPay.
The new development will provide the informal retail stores access to new digital services such as mobile airtime top-up, bill payments and peer-to-peer transfers.
Founded in 2019, the Ibadan-based retail-tech startup, Alerzo, is an all-in-one technology and services platform that transforms how Nigeria’s informal retail stores operate. Retailers can order stock, have it delivered quickly, receive and make cashless payments, and track store profitability. Alerzo currently works with more than 150,000 informal retail stores.
The startup announced a US$10.5 million Series A round, led by London-based Nosara Capital, in August, and since then has more than doubled its revenues and built a payments business. The latter was facilitated by the recent acquisition of Shago Payments, a fintech startup founded by payments industry veteran Sabastine Enechi.
Alerzo has also expanded its operations to the Middle Belt and Northern regions of Nigeria and now operates in Abuja and Kano. The company plans to serve most of Nigeria before the end of next year.
Alerzo Founded by Adewale Opaleye, said he created the company to meet a core need that his mother, a businesswoman, had at the time.
“I started Alerzo to help my mom, a single mother who ran two informal retail stores to support me and my three siblings. Before Alerzo, she had to close her shop and travel for hours to buy the inventory to stay in business.
“Women are often victims of theft because street boys know retail store operators often carry cash. I wanted to apply what I learned in China to make life better for working mothers in Nigeria.” He said.
Today, Alezo one of the fastest-growing startups in Nigeria, announced that its annualized September transaction volume had grown more than five times since the beginning of 2021, exceeding $155 million.
Commenting on the acquisition, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, the co-founder of Flutterwave and Andela and a member of Alerzo’s advisory board, said that the firm’s decision to serve communities “that are truly excluded” was inspiring: “Alerzo’s focus on excluded but commercially viable commerce communities in smaller cities like Ibadan is exemplary and visionary.”
He also said most businesses “talk a good game” about financial and economic inclusion but then proceed to focus their businesses on commercially savvy megacities like Lagos or Nairobi.
AB InBev Opens Applications For Beer Garage Africa Innovation Challenge
The world’s largest beer company, AB InBev, has partnered with Hindsight Ventures to launch the Beer Garage Africa Innovation Challenge, which will offer startups access to venture development and grant funding.
AB InBev, which has over 500 brands and over six million B2B customers in over 100 countries, launched Beer Garage a few years ago with the objective of driving innovation by building a strong community of ecosystem stakeholders.
As part of this initiative, AB InBev is now launching the Beer Garage Africa Innovation Challenge, a pan-African challenge to identify hi-tech, high potential startups and founders building innovative solutions across Africa.
To do so, it has partnered with Startup Réseau, an India-headquartered global startup accelerator, which will operate the programme through its Africa-focused vertical Hindsight Ventures.
Ten startups will be selected to take part in a Global Venture Bootcamp, a three-week venture mentorship and leadership development programme that will be delivered by successful founders, industry leaders, domain experts and investors. The Beer Garage Africa Innovation Challenge will culminate with a demo day, which will be attended by AB InBev’s global leadership as well as Hindsight Ventures’ global investor pool. On the demo day, one African startup will stand to win US$5,000 in grant capital. All selected startups get access to US$150,000 in technology credits from partners.
“We are really excited by this partnership, which allows us to drive a pan-African program. With a billion people in the continent, over 300 million new internet users expected to come online over the next three years, a fast-growing mobile internet penetration – and now, with global venture capital money making its way to African entrepreneurs, this is a great opportunity for startups to engage with AB InBev as a partner of choice,” said Ajay Ramasubramaniam, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Startup Réseau.
Pritam Dutta, global director for fintech ventures and innovation at AB InBev, said the Beer Garage Africa Challenge was an opportunity to leverage the emerging tech startup ecosystem and funnel novel ideas into AB InBev.
“We set out to build out a stronger connect into the Africa ecosystem, find disruptive startups which could be a great pipeline for our future disruptive innovations and further accelerate our innovation agenda, delivering strong business impact,” he said.
Applications for the challenge are now open here.
Beer Garage is one of the global innovation hubs at AB InBev with the objective of driving innovation by building a strong community of ecosystem stakeholders.
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