This week’s issue was inspired by Pius Adesanmi’s 2006 article titled “Ibo Made” republished on Facebook on Feb. 20, 2016 (click).
It was very articulate, and loaded with solid points. Definitely a good read. However I refuse to let my patriotic zeal blind me to the root causes I’ve identified to contribute in no small way to the problem highlighted in Pius’ article.
Yes it’s true that many Nigerians tend to look down on “Ibo Made” products…AND it is indeed true that our markets are flooded with substandard products imported from China – stifling local production…BUT is it (NOT) also true that some of “us” go to China to demand that imitations of original products be made to lower quality specifications for sale in Nigeria(?)
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This week’s issue was inspired by Pius Adesanmi’s 2006 article titled “Ibo Made” republished on Facebook on Feb. 20, 2016 (click).
It was very articulate, and loaded with solid points. Definitely a good read.
However I refuse to let my patriotic zeal blind me to the root causes I’ve identified to contribute in no small way to the problem highlighted in Pius’ article:
Yes it’s true that many Nigerians tend to look down on “Ibo Made” products AND it is indeed true that our markets are flooded with substandard products imported from China – stifling local production…BUT is it (NOT) also true that some of “us” go to China to demand that imitations of original products be made to lower quality specifications for sale in Nigeria(?)
We’re not kids here!
The Chinese export worldwide.
We all know the high standards they have to meet for their products to get accepted for sale in markets like the USA and other developed societies. Let’s not delude ourselves.
Nigeria is NOT the only export destination Chinese manufacturers have.
So, if they’re sending substandard products to Nigeria, we have to ask ourselves why they are not able to do the same thing elsewhere.
FACT: They are not exporting similar quality to the USA!
I use America as a reference point for other developed countries, who have an established quality control system designed to protect their consumer population.
In the USA, any product that fails to meet the minimum specifications gets locked out. No amount of begging, lobbying or offers of settlement, will help.
Ask Nigerians who got products rejected for failing to meet the specs specified under the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) program, and they will tell you.
No matter how badly, the USA wants to help other nations via trading, they will NOT lower their quality standards, endangering their consumers, to do so!
In Nigeria, even drugs used for medical purposes are sometimes imported without the proper checks, causing substandard versions or outright imitations to get in!
How is that even possible???
Considering the fact that majority of the importers of these items watered down Chinese made items are mostly our very own brethren, does that not amount to our shooting ourselves in the foot???
Word actually has it that many of our own people, involved in large scale imports, go abroad and instruct their suppliers to make substandard versions to lower costs, so they can reap higher margins when they sell them locally at normal prices!
Don’t ask me how they get through the country’s ports without this being discovered by the regulatory bodies that conduct required checks. Or maybe it’s discovered and they “settle” it among themselves.
What matters is that they Do get into the Nigerian markets regularly!
Another perspective: Among producers of made in Nigeria items, I see the absence of a DRIVE to deliver promised VALUE in a way that will make Nigerian buyers feel no need to look for “imported” alternatives
It’s a problem of the wrong mental attitude.
Now, in discussing this issue of the mental attitude of the Nigerian maker of products at any level, I refuse to focus on people in section or geographical region of Nigeria.
Like I’ve said in a previous post (click here to view) Nigeria can and should promote products creation from micro to SME and higher levels across the entire nation if s/he wants to see progress.
It makes no sense to create the impression that people from a certain region of the country are to engage in certain vocations to the exclusion of others.
We also need to provide technical/best practice education to those who choose to go this route so they appreciate the importance of producing to meet internationally accepted standards as a minimum requirement!
The truth is that right now, buying many made in Nigeria items (especially those with imported alternatives) can be like gambling with money.
Today it may end well for you, but some other day you end up feeling like you’ve been ripped off (I’m just being conservative here…it’s often not just a “feeling”).
It’s so hard to trust and believe in made in Nigeria products, when the makers themselves do no invest emotionally in their brands!
For instance, what happens when you take a bad product back to the maker or seller in Nigeria?
Quite often they refuse to replace or fix it, and will rarely offer a refund. The best you’re likely to get is an invitation to “add a little money” so they can sell you another one.
I was born and raised in Nigeria and have experienced/observed this with providers of products and services – both schooled and unschooled. People do business with a win-lose mentality most times.
If they can get money off you without giving you any product they’ll take the chance: And once your money ends up in their hands, getting them to pay you any more attention can prove quite difficult. Except you come to make an additional purchase, their after sales behavior can make you feel like you’re being a nuisance e.g. when you complain about faulty or bad product etc.
It’s hardly any different on the service provision front…
For instance, try getting your money paid for 1 year’s rent refunded by an estate agency in Nigeria after you discovered unacceptable defects contrary to what you were promised, and it will often take a serious tug of war!
Yet in Cotonou, just like my Beninese friends had always assured me was standard practice, last year, I got my money for an apartment I quit, handed back in full (less agreed expenses) within days in an amicable setting with the agent.
Same applies to buying products from markets in Benin Republic: The locals openly brag about the fact that they will never cheat their buyers.
Not once have I experienced the opposite.
[Don’t get me wrong. Issues do arise sometimes, but they are the exception NOT the norm!]
On one occasion a trader agreed to meet with me on Sunday, even though shops never open on that day, when I phoned to say the pair of Jeans he’d sold me on Saturday evening as they rushed to close shop, turned out to be too small.
That kind of mental attitude and behavior in response to an after sales request , inspires trust and confidence in the buyer’s mind. Little wonder that I’ve continued buying from that same trader since 2013!
People want to know they will get value for the money they pay you!
In many cases, many sellers in the Nigerian space are unable (unwilling) to invest the time and effort needed to inspire the trust and confidence needed to attract and retain buyers.
Most who behave in this manner make the excuse that they face too many challenges, do not have time, and/or are worried about clients/buyers exploiting them.
Much as I agree that some of those fears may be valid, the truth remains that they stand to benefit a whole lot if they changed their mental attitudes.
Once majority of Nigerian producers across all levels, begin to provide solutions that local buyers verify to deliver value for money, such buyers will ignore imported alternatives
This idea is not far fetched.
Think about our music industry, and how it was 2 to 3 decades ago.
The quality of musical works produced by most of our musicians at the time (exceptions being artists like Fela) did not match what came in from the foreign music scene. As a result, our corporate organizations kept importing foreign acts for shows while local ones saw little or nothing of the big money.
Today, our musicians have proven they can make music matching that from other climes – and now Nigerians are putting their monies into the pockets of local artistes at a dizzying rate without needing to be asked.
Visit any Nigerian party – locally or abroad – and you’ll have a hard time hearing a foreign artiste’s song enjoying major playing time – if it gets played at all!
Reason: The music this new generation of artistes makes gives good value for money!
The same thing needs to happen with our made in Nigeria products and services, otherwise we will continue to complain like we’re currently doing!!!
In case you wonder, I practice what I preach …I deliver promised quality and value to ALL who pay me!
I have done so through most of my adult life – starting when I was in paid employment in Guinness Nigeria. There I excelled by doing a whole lot more than I was paid for, leading to rapid career advancement to Senior Management positions, ahead of my peers in less than 6 years of joining Guinness Nigeria).
Since quitting to pursue my dream of being self employed from 2002, I’ve diligently defied failure and adversity at various points over the past decade, to establish myself as a trustworthy international provider of a unique range of customizable solutions.
Example: Yesterday afternoon, I made my kids sit in (as part of their Personal Achievement Coaching session) on the second day of a Skype phone call support session I had with a Farm CEO based in East Africa’s Tanzania country, who had purchased my Excel VB Ration Formulator software by paying via Western Union last month (January 2016).
By the time he’d told me what other issues he was having, I deduced that he needed to watch the 4 part step-by-step video tutorial I’d created 2 years ago, for an Algerian PhD student who’d reached out to me.
I knew the in depth explanations I provided in that video series were likely to address most – if not all of – those remaining issues he was having.
So, after the call ended, my kids watched me put together an email containing instructions for downloading my 4 part tutorial, which I then sent to the Farm CEO.
This evening, I was typing this message, I got the email shown in the screen shot below from him:
You will agree with me, that the message in that email -as well as its tone – is indicative of a person who is happy with the results he has since.
As the above story illustrated, not only do I work hard to ensure my products perform as promised, I also work hard to support ALL buyers to make the most productive use of them – thus giving those who buy from me value for money they pay me.
My mental attitude makes me persistently seek to give more than I get from others. It makes me constantly go the extra mile to be a source of increase and improvement in the lives of others.
With the exception of a few insincere ones – those I connect with often acknowledge and appreciate me so much that we become friend and they tell others about me!
It goes without saying that doing the above can be VERY hard work, but that’s why we’re told it’s best to choose a vocation that you have a passion for.
That way, even when things get hard, you will NOT feel it’s more than you can take.
This is the habit that Nigerians who want to succeed using the philosophy I advocate in this article, need to adopt.
Without it, we are VERY unlikely to make tangible progress as a nation.
PS: Regarding the valid point made by Pius that the “Ibo Man”‘s buyers often expected him to have 2 versions of what he sold i.e. original and the fake (where original was considered the one imported from abroad and fake, the one made by “Ibo Man”)
I argue that YOU alone can determine how your buyers treat you.
If they want to call you a name you’re not, RESIST it, and confidently let them know how you prefer to be addressed and/or treated.
In doing my business both on and off the web, I have never been afraid to apply this principle, and anytime a client or buyer has been unwilling to deal with me on my stated terms, I’ve ALWAYS taken it as a good sign that s/he was NOT a good fit for me.
Over time, I’ve attracted to myself people fitting my definition of ideal clients/customers, with whom I ENJOY relationships of mutual respect and consideration today.
My advice to Pius’ “Ibo Man” and others who aspire to success in dealing with buyers, to adopt a similar assertive disposition, if they want to achieve sustainable long term success at what they do. Period.
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You’re reading PII 002: Deliver Promised Quality Consistently, and Buyers Will Feel No Need to Look for Alternatives by Tayo Solagbade, originally posted on his Daily Self-Development (SD) Nuggets™ blog. If you loved reading this post, be sure to follow Tayo on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
On 4th May 2014, Tayo’s 9 year old domain (Spontaneousdevelopment dot com), was taken over by Aplus.net. Within a few days however, Tayo used his advanced self-taught web development skills to build (and move his website contents into) a SUPERIOR “reincarnation” at http://www.tayosolagbade.com.
Most URLs bearing the old domain name appearing in search engines should now work if “spontaneousdevelopment.com” is replaced with “tayosolagbade.com”. If you experience any difficulties finding a page or document, email Tayo at tksola dot com.
Click “Tayo, What Happened to SpontaneousDevelopmentDotCom?” to read a detailed narrative about how the above event occurred :-))
Here’s an article Tayo wrote, to inspire others to defy adversity, and bounce back to even greater reckoning at what they do EVERY time:
Succeed by Emerging from Adversity Like a Phoenix (TayoSolagbade.com launches extra Hosting plan with FREE Web Marketing!)
And he wrote the one below, to explain why losing a domain name, no matter how old NO LONGER determines your online success or otherwise: