Federal Government’s quest for home-grown brands has started to yield dividends in the shaving industry with the unveiling of dino shavers range of shaving and blade products by an indigenous company in Lagos recently. Before now, Indians had a near monopoly of the market for shavers and blades in Nigeria.
Chief Divine Obiora Obiwulu, Chief Executive Officer, Vine Morris Group, narrated how his company cultivated and nurtured for over 15 years, the Dorco brand of shaving stick, only to have the rugs pulled from under his feet by the owners when the product became a household name, not only in Nigeria but also across West Africa:
“At the point of reaping the dividends, the foreigners who owned the products started frustrating us. The whites see Nigerians as slaves in business who they will use in developing their products in our markets; thereafter, they give them a thank you handshake and hand the business over to their brothers.”
Taking his loss in good faith, he had resolutely gone ahead to establish an indigenous brand, Dino Shavers to fill the gap in the shaving industry. Though the odds were daunting, Obiwulu’s passion and desire to make an impact in the shaving industry he had operated in for over 15 years, gave him the inner strength to forge ahead, coupled with his conviction that Nigerians are ready to welcome and support whatever they consider theirs.
On why it was difficult to see Nigerians in the shaving-and-blades business, he said it was “because they didn’t consider it a worthwhile business,” thereby giving Indians the opportunity to dominate the segment:
“As it stands, Dino Shavers is the only indigenous company, others are foreign companies. It is purely 100 per cent Sweden blade and shaves closely to give maximum satisfaction. It has a wide range of products, including twin shaving stick, double-edge blade, stick and cartridges and pillar pack.”
He pointed out that people have known Vine Morris to be a company that has integrity in terms of quality: “We are not after profit; the people outside know us and believe in us, and if they believe in us and know this product is coming from Vine Morris it will be easy for them to key in.
“What they accepted is Vine Morris and not Dorco. It is just like, if Ronaldo, the football star leaves Real Madrid for Juventus and still proves himself. What was taken away from him was the product, not the idea and knowledge. If you have that idea and knowledge, you can equally repeat it with whatever that is in your hand. The important thing is to make sure that quality is uncompromised.
“At the unveiling of the products, there was a practical test to prove that it wasn’t a theory. Someone who hadn’t shaved came out there and was given a blade and he shaved, it shaved perfectly to the admiration of the customers and others present.
“It’s purely 100 per cent Sweden blade and shaves closely to give maximum satisfaction. It comes with several ranges of products like twin shaving stick, double edge blade, stick and cartridges and pillar pack. With one stroke, it gives you maximum satisfaction.
“So, if a Nigerian can be bold enough to come up with this product, which is our own brand and is giving you what you really want, I think he should be encouraged.”
He decried the shenanigans of some Nigerian businessmen who in their quest for profit disregard customer satisfaction, thereby killing their brands: “People have known us for over 15 years, they know we perfected the brand called Dorco and we didn’t kill it.
“You know what happened in Nigeria as a businessman? If you are given a franchise, you will import five containers from the original owners and you will go to the backyard of China and import 20 containers and you use it to support the original; while you are making N10 here, you are also making N100 there.
“But we managed the Dorco brand for about 15 years and nothing like that came from us. Instead, we put our lives on the line trying to fight those who were faking the products. What a customer looks for in the market is a return on his investments at the end of the day.”