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Nigerian consumers have high expectations of Aba shoe and textile makers. BusinessDay interviewed a cross-section of consumers who gave different views of what they want from manufacturers from the industrial city and local producers in general.
Oyedeji Dolapo, a Lagos-based entrepreneur, said local producers should improve the quality and durability of their goods.
“Most of the goods I have come across are of inferior quality and lack attractive packaging,” Dolapo said.
Temiloluwa Fakunle, a fashion designer, said they should let their prices match the quality of their products.
Solape Aina, a teacher, said they are doing their best and some of them give value for money, but advised them to be more innovative.
“Innovation is key in this industry,” Aina said.
One million pairs of shoes are produced by more than 80,000 leather makers in Aba each week. With 48 million pairs produced each year at an average price of N2,500 a pair, the industry is said to be worth up to N120 billion.
Traders from West African neighbours storm the industrial city every week to buy different product designs, just as Southern African schools are beginning to place orders directly from the shoe makers. Canadians, Europeans and the Chinese are also in the party, placing orders themselves directly or through their Nigerian proxies, BusinessDay was told in Aba.
The business is already online, with the likes, of Gada Africa, Jiji.ng and abanaijamade.com.ng, among others, handling marketing and distribution of those shoes, including belts and trunk boxes, after online orders are taken. Online shops take 20 to 50 percent cuts from sellers, BusinessDay gathered from the shoe makers.
Robinson Echefu, a commercial motorcyclist, said he likes Aba products but stressed the need for improvement in quality. He said he is in love with clothes and shoes made in Aba.
“But the only problem is that they fade quickly,” he admitted.
“If Aba people make quality clothes and shoes, I will be willing to buy them at any amount. What I want is quality, not necessarily reduced price. For example, I bought one made-in-Aba shoes. The leather is good; the quality is good. It looked like foreign, so I did not mind paying more for it. Today, I am still enjoying it. I look good and feel good about it such that my friends want to buy such,” Echefu narrated.
Ruth Ndidi, a Lagos-based Nigerian consumer said, “They have the right quality and their prices are okay. That is why many people can afford it.”
Adunni Folarin, a shoe and bag seller in Lagos, said she buys local shoes and bags and they do not give her any problem.
“The source of your products matters. I buy from trustworthy, good people. I buy from good sources to resell because I can afford to disappoint my customers,” she said.
Irene Abidemi, petroleum marketer in South-West Nigeria, said she buys local shoes, sandals and bags and even markets them for the producers because they are good enough
“I feel our government should encourage them. The person who sells to me is a University of Lagos (Unilag) graduate. He makes good products.”