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Dangote still the most admired African brand

For the third year in a row, Dangote Group has topped the Brand Africa 100 table of the most admired African brands in Africa. We spoke with Tony Chiejina, the group’s chief brand and corporate communications officer, to find out what keeps it there

The Brand Africa 100 is a valuation and ranking of the best brands in Africa based on the brand’s financial performance and consumer admiration. This creates a unique index, which is published annually by African Business Magazine. As part of the survey we ask respondents in African countries to name not just their most admired brand, but also their most admired African brand, and for the third year the Dangote Group has topped the table. We spoke to Tony Chiejina, the group’s chief brand and corporate communications officer to find out the secrets behind their success.

We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Africa’s Top Brands. Dangote Group has been a constant feature of our rankings. Can you talk us through the story of your brand and how it has evolved?

The Dangote Group is currently a diversified and fully integrated conglomerate. The group’s interests span a range of sectors in Nigeria and across Africa. The core business focus of the group, which started operations in 1978, is to provide local, value-added products and services that meet the “basic needs” of the populace.

Through the construction and operation of large-scale manufacturing facilities in Nigeria and across 16 other African countries, the group is focused on building local manufacturing capacity to generate employment, prevent capital flight and provide locally produced goods for the people.

The Dangote Group continues to reflect and evolve with our customers’ needs. Staying true to its vision and mission of “providing basic needs”, and with a continuously evolving product range, it stays relevant. This has consistently attracted new customers and increased market share, while valuing old customers. Consumer experience indicates that our brand interacts, and our products are reliable, and this is evident in our rankings over the years.

How important is the founder of the group, Aliko Dangote, to the group’s brand?

Aliko Dangote, our president and chief executive is very important and represents the pillar behind the brand. Apart from being the founder, he is the brand icon and the face of the brand. He represents a huge brand equity upon which the other businesses thrive. His goodwill in the African continent and the world has undoubtedly built and raised the brand’s love-score. The name Dangote in Nigeria and Africa reinforces the value we provide. It reinforces reliability, respect, corporate responsibility and, above all, empowerment.

Africans seem to consume local brands but their aspirations are global in terms of the ones they admire, in particular when one looks at essentials versus “luxury” brands. What’s your experience?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs calls out food, shelter and clothing as essential elements of life. For any brand in the space, what is important is meeting these basic needs. Consumers are always aspirational in what they consume but that is also dependent on the willingness to pay for such brands. Our brands are sought-after on account of the simple fact that it meets their needs on all key fronts. Dangote Sugar, Salt, Foods, Cement, etc.

African brands have consistently represented a small minority of our Top 100.  In fact, on average over the past 10 years, it’s been around 20% and declining. Does it mean we cannot compete with more established global brands?

Depending on what perspective you view competition, African brands should first ensure that they meet the demand of the continent at an affordable price. Foreign brands are struggling in their space as well and that’s why the destination is Africa in this era of globalisation. So African brands can compete.

What’s your advice to aspirational entrepreneurs about building a brand?

A brand is a tool of trust. Consumers tend to trust brands that put them at the centre of their thinking. So always put consumers first. It is also called consumer centrism. Ensure you meet their needs at the right place, time, quantity and quality.

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Adapted from Africa Business Magazine

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