ST LOUIS SUGAR: COMPLACENCY OF MARKETING

St Louis have stuck to their brand since they broke into the Nigerian sugar market. Competing brands did nothing to upset the St Louis dominance, and complacency along. Then all competition phased out.
As Nigeria kept transitioning into a 21st Century Commerce-homely society, re-branding became 'law', with companies running willy-nilly in every marketing direction. But St Louis sneered at the riot, calmly concentrating on sales.
Industry shifts would have demanded a rethink on this moribund Marketing policy, but it appeared there was no Marketing department at St Louis.
No ads (or have you seen any? you must be working at their factory if yes); no CSR; no press releases; no media facility tours; no public relations; nothing but sales trucks raising dust on bumpy Nigerian roads.
But something is praiseworthy. St Louis branding has been as consistent as their trademark product quality.Still they would be wrong to depend on quality of product to drive sales endlessly. For it cannot keep their brand unchallenged. Because Nigerians would become acquainted with innovative marketing, changelessness gets called into question. People will wonder why the heck you're not changing your appearance. Maybe theirs was (or is?) the Technology Model of marketing - the product should sell itself. But for how long?
There is an implication I feel St Louis should be bothered about. When you fail to rebrand, a developing environment will influence the expectations of your customers. If not immediately, eventually; but certainly. And they will start imagining that what is in the pack is as moribund as the packaging. They will think you are not manufacturing anymore and are selling old stock.
St Louis held sway over a boring industry; in monopoly due to negligence of would-be competition, till others began to notice their unquestioned dominance.
But now, Dangote is here, and with less expensive alternatives. Amel Susan icing sugar is pushing hard into the market, and hopefully may join the table sugar sector.
If St Louis have a marketing department, this assertion would not be new to their research unit. It remains to be seen if they have a suited brand plan for what's coming. Let's hope they do, or they will learn the hard truth the hard way - they are not rooted in concrete.

Uduak Umo
PR professional, Marketing Communications Strategist
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