By Ngozi Onwukwe
Several times I have visited the Bakassi Shoe Plaza in Aba – an extension of Ariaria International Market, I always saw the frustration in the faces of the shoe cobblers, most of them, prays for a very good alternative to sell and get more buyers.
In the faces of the buyers, I saw the same frustration but in a different form, which is, passing through hurdles in a bid to get what they really want. Buyers and sellers pass through the same hurdles, that’s why the sellers have “market runners” (Ndi oso ahia), while the buyers are afraid of falling into the hands of the bad market runners, who their aim is to sell a fake product and count their gains, while the buyer gets home and fall into a very deep regrets.
This bad development has dented the image of Aba made products, making it look so fake that whenever someone bought an Aba made products, people tagged it as fake, and something that can never last.
But that is not true, I mean it has no iota of truth.
Did you know that Aba has a lot of products you are making use of? Ok. maybe because your seller told you it is an imported stuff, that’s why you feel very much pride to flaunt it?
Yes! I bet you never know.
Aba artisans are beyond your imagination, they made a lot of products right here and export it to Togo, Cotonou, Senegal, Italy, etc.
Aba made products have gone beyond what an eye can see, but since Nigerians have the symptoms of Inferiority complex, Aba artisans knows the best way to follow them.
They made their products, export it, while Nigerian shops and boutique owners will go over there and import it back, tag it “Made In Italy” – You, as a buyer, will proudly flaunt it, take a picture while rocking it and post it on a social media – People will praise you as a someone rocking made in Italy product.
Why the expenses when you can boldly order for it in Aba and pay less and get the same outfit you went to Italy to purchase?
Well, let’s face the fact why most of the buyers are afraid of buying Made In Aba products.
I went to Bakassi shoe plaza to buy a shoe, to my surprise the footwear has no brand – I mean there is nothing like a brand name – or company logo that shows it’s proudly made by the cobbler – but he always prays for buyers to come, he wants a very large customer, and that is quite disappointing.
I went to another shop and pick up a shoe – to my surprise it was tagged – Gucci – what? An Italian company brand right here in Aba? I shook my head and asked the cobbler, why tagging the shoe which you proudly made by yourself – with an Italian based company logo? – The response I get was so hilarious.
The cobbler said; “My brother, Nigerians prefer big names, that’s why we give it to them – Really? Nigerians prefer big names? That’s the question I asked him.
He was dumbfounded, and we had a long chat about branding, it ended in a good way, I introduced him to – Made In Nigeria Entrepreneurship Conference, MINEC, which will be coming up in Aba very soon – they are the best in branding – The platform is all about branding – He was so happy and I left with a pair of shoe.
You see? That is sensitization, which Aba artisans need to learn.
To me I can’t buy a product that uses a fake brand, or a product that doesn’t have a brand name – It will look so fake to me and that’s why I preached for branding to the cobbler and he was so happy to listen and he learnt a lot from me.
Branding is very much important before going into advertising – Aba artisans need to attend a workshop which talks about branding, and not all about going live in a television or advertising on social media about buy made in Aba to grow our economy.
That’s absurd, the Governor Ikpeazu led Abia State government has created a platform which promote Made In Aba products and services, but they forgot that people this time hardly buy a product that has no brand, or a product that has a fake brand.
The artisans need to be taught on how to brand their products – before going into public for advertisement.
For Nigerians, – Aba artisans have the ability to produce the Gucci or other trending brands you travel outside to shop. We are so much amazing to your likeness.
To sellers, – sell a good product, stop denting the image of Aba made products, sell a good product and buyers will locate you. A good seller stands a chance to make a very large customer lineage.
A platform will be launching soon, and it will showcase more about Made In Aba products – When it launched, you won’t pass through the hurdles of going into the market to find your best brand, or running around the market to find a customer – stay in your shop, customers will locate you – that’s the rule of the platform when it launched. – continue hustling and wait for it.
Meanwhile, Inferiority complex is what is killing Nigerian made products. – Selling products without brands contributes to the downgrade of Made In Aba products.
To Aba artisans, – brand your products, makes it to be reliable and affordable, in order to compete with the International standards – You will excel. – That, I assured you.
Make sure you visit www.minec.org.ng to learn more about branding yourself and your products. – It’s not all about Aba Shoe Cobblers – anyone into business needs branding to excel.Thanks for reading my column – to be continue next week….
Ngozi Onwukwe – Is the founder of AbaCityBlog and AbaMarketPlace (AMP)Bonus: Watch the video below and see for yourself how talented Aba artisans can be. – Video credit: Proudly Made In Aba Campaign.
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