Is FMCG Success down to your Marketing Department or your Key Distributors?



Connecting with your low and middle-income consumers is key to profitable sales.

“Which came first, the chicken flavourseasoningor the er… egg noodles?” to paraphrase the eternal philosophical question.

Speaking with some of the key FMCG distributors in major markets around Lagos, last month, one is left in no doubt about what they think.

Said one key distributor for a large FMCG conglomerate in Nigeria: “We distribute all the products of [company x].  We are doing very well with their products, accounting for a large part of their business.  Undoubtedly, they have premium quality products and our customers like that, but a major discomfort is that they [company x] don’t talk much about their products. Their marketing department is… (shrugs). And when they do advertise the products, they do so in a generic way. It’s not really helping us with our customers… They need to talk to the grassroots – those are the people who buy their products, in the market every day. Without us…! (shrugs)”

Let’s ponder that view, for a bit.

Mr ‘key distributor’ has been moving goods very successfully for [company x], for over 15 years.  He is, by every measure, their top performer in Nigeria but he is frustrated, as he feels that there are advantages not exploited, opportunities not being chased down.  He sees consumers of every walk of life, day in day out – he knows them well, to an extent [company x] probably never will.

These buyers come over from the West, East, the North, and South of Nigeria – as well as from neighboring West African countries. He offloads cartons of product, daily. He moves vast warehouse loads of products, monthly. And boy, does he have stories! So why is he bellyaching about the marketing department not stepping up to the plate? (Excuse the pun).

Mr ‘key distributor’ and others like him perceive gaps in connecting a huge swathe of their customers, with some manufacturers and product brands – in a natural and believable way.  In a way that makes their desire to deliver even more products to customers, easier. They have stories, as do their customers.  Stories that connect the human experiences of customers from every walk of life. Stories weaved around customers, key distributors, their lives, and the history and attributes of the product brands.

FMCG marketing departments should leverage customer and product insights of these vastly knowledgeable key distributors such as Mr ‘Key Distributor’ and many others, likeFunmi Stores. Tap into their very relevant and entertaining stories and those of their customers (end users). Segment the customers based on deep insights of shared purposes with the brand(s) to build powerful, believable, and authentic “Brand Narratives.”

Own and share the narrative and have fun with your distributors and customers while doing so. That’s what it’s all about, and the reason why we enjoy coming to work so much!


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