How to Survive Price War

One of the elephant in the house that has plaque print business in Nigeria over the years is the preponderance of different pricing of print products and services. A cursory review of the state of industry over last two decades reveals the impact price war in the industry has negatively impacted profitability and growth. The issue of price difference is evident across every aspect of print business. From print machineries to print consumables products are priced differently from the north to the south and from the east to the west of Nigeria. There is no one print product or service that you can find that is priced the same all over the nation. This situation has led to players in the Industry introducing various unethical means to outwit one another to retain market price and enhance profitability.

The truth is there is very little one can do to control prices and avoid price war in an environment like ours. But dealing with price war by engaging unethical prices is not the way out. This has been the case in the Nigeria Printing industry over the years where players adopt various practices to deal with price war to remain in business. These practices include cheating on the actual thickness , size of paper and numbers of paper sheets in a ream of paper, use of low quality consumables for printing production, very low profit margins etc. These practices which undermine the quality of print products have created bad image for the business. These trend may have benefited a few print shops, on the other side has affected the growth of print business in Nigeria. It is largely responsible for low quality print products in the industry and low patronage by major print buyers in Nigeria.

A recent discussion with an Executive Director with a major book publishing company in Nigeria revealed that the reason why they don’t patronize local printing firms is because of these sharp practices. She said and I quote ” Whenever we patronize printers in Nigeria, we are often not such of the actual finished jobs in terms of quality, type and size of paper … Meeting deadlines is another problem, they hardly meet deadline for delivery of print jobs and so we had to seek help with overseas printers and now we are at peace even where we pay money “. Such a statement is not good for the industry and it is often a fall out from sharp practices by local printers to survive raging price war in the industry. Adopting some of these sharp practices are not the best way to survive price war. If you look around you will discover that there are other sectors of the economy where price war are prevalent but companies in those sector play the game strategically and with a high sense of decorum. Take the beverage sector for example; there is constant competition and price war between Coca Cola and Pepsi with none of them engaging sharp practices to outwit each other. What do they do? They adopt more strategic approach. They price their products very well with cost of production and profit margin in mind. They don’t tamper with the quality of their products just to win market share instead they differentiate their products and engage sales promotion. Print shop owners and executives can learn from them. You can differentiate your products; you can introduce some sales promotion. Adopting unethical practices as you are currently doing is not the way to win when there is price war in your sector. Adopting unethical practices is an ill wind that blows no one any good. If you don’t know how to differentiate your print products or introduce sales promotion to increase market share and profitability, why not contact a marketing communication company that has understanding of your market. We can make print profitable again but not on the back of unethical practices but on the back of good business practice.

For information on how to differentiate your products, introduce sales promotion initiative, you can contact me on dcstunde@yahoo.com

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