Nigeria - Country Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techniques

Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2021-10-13

Overview

Nigerian consumers react positively to American brands.  To elicit consumer interest, manufacturers should ensure that all sales materials are in English.  Also, the name and address of the manufacturer and country of origin should be indicated clearly on the product/packaging.  Where products are labelled and bear illustrations/pictures such as beauty/health care products, it is more effective to use pictures that match the look and features (e.g. skin tone, hair color/texture) of people in the Nigerian market. Many Nigerians demonstrate a stronger inclination to purchase U.S.-made products if the U.S. flag is printed on the package.

Trade Promotion & Advertising

For trade promotion and advertising services in Nigeria, U.S. companies may contact CS Nigeria. Local partners are usually available to collaborate with their foreign counterparts in trade promotion, publicity, and advertising campaigns.

Pricing

Pricing is a key determinant of success in Nigeria and a major challenge for U.S. firms doing business in Nigeria due to two critical factors: low purchasing power of Nigerians and the availability of less expensive alternate choices from Asian and North African suppliers.  Note that the Nigerian federal government charges a 5% VAT, while state governments also impose an additional 5% VAT. As a result of currency controls measures implemented some years ago, distributors were forced to significantly raise prices for imported commodities (especially food items like rice, spaghetti, and cooking oil), in some instances up to 30%, due to higher exchange rates at the parallel market. 

Sales Service and Customer Support

An excellent package of customer service and after-sales support is a major driver of buyer patronage in this market.  U.S. companies must be willing to do as much as they can to support their local representatives and respond positively to customer complaints.  Over the past years, the Nigerian market for U.S. products and services has come under heavy pressure from Asian competitors, particularly Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs, who are setting up a local presence and building partnerships across the country.  Others, while not yet localizing their presence, are increasing the frequency of their visits to Nigeria and are participating in local fairs or hosting private seminars and workshops.  They are active in industry sectors such as oil/gas, security equipment, and power generation.

Local Professional Services

There are local professional services such as private security companies, logistic companies, attorneys, and credible financial institutions that can benefit U.S. companies coming to operate in Nigeria. These professionals help U.S. companies better understand how businesses operate and succeed in the country, as well as understand local laws guiding their operations.

CS Nigeria can provide pre-screened and reputable companies that can assist in completing specific tasks in the Nigerian market.

Principal Business Associations

Many businesses in Nigeria have professional associations they belong to which U.S. companies, while operating in the country, can leverage on to understand the local market, culture, and the people they deal with while conducting business. There is an association of U.S. companies in Nigeria called the American Business Council that meets in Lagos to share business experiences.

Limitations on Selling US Products and Services

Some of the major limitations on selling U.S. products and services include infrastructural challenges, customs import control and regulations, delay in registration of some products (such as in health/beauty sectors), and foreign competition from other export markets that may not be concerned about standards.