“Why people don’t patronize your products” is one of the phrases Mrs. Adesuwa mysteriously sees in her dreams each time she sleeps at night.
Mrs. Adesuwa, a middle income executive in a leading ICT firm, loves crafts, homemade meals, the environment, and she had always dreamt of establishing her own business. Finally, her dream came true. In 2015, she spent so much setting up a recycling business in a low-income area. But two years after, she make any barely sales for weeks running. This is taking a toll on her business. The losses have been so much that she’s considering to shut down the business.
In this article, we examine some common reasons “why people don’t patronize your products”.
The goal of every business is to make sales and earn good profits. However, this is not the case for many businesses with entrepreneurs running from post to post to break even. Without sales, no one will be in business.
A persistent lack of sales doesn’t just happen, certain factors are often responsible. Apart from general and quite expected low patronage and poor sales during economic downturns or recessions, it is also possible for businesses to underperform in a booming economy or in an industry with huge potentials.
For example, in the past few years, Nigeria has witnessed a surge in activities in its environment sector; this has seen an increase in the number of new entrepreneurs entering the sector, new multimillion Naira investments in recycling facilities for organic, plastic and metallic wastes, new sales outlets for upcycled products, to various private-sector-led multidisciplinary research into climate change and other emerging environmental issues. In fact, a whole new industry which until now, was largely untapped, is gradually being unleashed. But in spite of the promises the emerging innovation-driven green environment sector holds in Nigeria, it is not uncommon to see a number of green entrepreneurs complain of poor patronage, low sales or an indifferent clientele.
1. Lack of knowledge about the customer
- A lack of knowledge of the customer, his problem, the right solution to the problem and the price the customer is capable of and willing to pay for the solution is certainly is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t patronize your products. In fact, this is a major reason why businesses fail. You cannot assume you know what the customer wants without first asking the customer or without first putting yourself in the shoes of the customer to know what the customer wants and is capable and willing to pay for.
To drive sales, take time to study your customers. Know their peculiarities and their problems. And of the arrays of problem they have, which of the problems can provide the best solution for at a price the customer is capable and willing to pay. This is the basis of customer empathy. You will be out of business if your product does not solve the customers’ problem. You have no business if don’t have a customer.
While it is true that you don’t need to know everything about the customer to start a business, however, you need to know the basic things about the customer; that’s the basis of your being in business.
2. Expensive price
There is a particular price which the customer is capable and willing to pay, for the solution you are providing.
Most customers are rational beings who always try to get the best that is available at the most reasonable price. Apart from quality, price is one of the most important determinants of sales. In fact, in some instances, some customers rate price above quality. One of the peculiarities of price is that it is relative and in comparison with other factors. If your product is top quality, customers may also be interested in “At what cost?” If your competitors offer their products that can serve as substitute to yours at a price lower, then, customers may be tempted to try out the substitute products. In fixing a pricing mechanism for your product, ensure you are as realistic and competitive as possible. An expensive price could be one of the reasons why people don’t patronize your products.
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3. Poor visibility
One of the important reasons why people don’t patronize your products is poor visibility. This reason can be explained from two perspectives: First, poor visibility could mean that your business is sited in the wrong location such that customers do not ready access to your products. Secondly and quite instructively, particularly in the digital age we now are in, poor visibility could also mean no internet presence. More and more customers now buy products online or decide on the products they would buy by what they see online. You are only a click away from your next sales. But if your business has no internet presence whatsoever, customers will look elsewhere.
4. Caustic/unprofessional employees
Some years ago, a food company discovered its monthly sales was constantly going down. The owner decided to investigate what the cause was. One day, he disguised as an old man to come purchase breakfast at the company. Apart from not opening for the day’s work on time, the employees on duty that morning were so rude to the “old man” that he left almost in tears. Immediately, the man understood why his company had been performing so poorly. He promptly returned to work he next day to fix the problem.
Your employees are your first ambassadors of your products/services. If your employees are rude to your customers, such customers would likely not return to patronize, particularly in cases where there are ready substitutes to your products. The more rude, unhappy or unmotivated your employees are, the less your products become in the eyes of your customers, and the lower the sales you would make over time.
5. Poor customer experience
As an entrepreneur, do you offer after-sale service to your customer, or do you feel your transaction with your customer ends the moment the customer pays for your product? Do you care for feedback from your customers, care to know what their experience is using your product/service, or do you simply walk off once the deal is sealed? Do you, from time to time, put yourself in the shoes of your customer and evaluate whether the product/service your company offers to them are truly top notch or meet the standards you promise, or do you merely assume that your product/service meet the expectations of the customer?
Customer loyalty happens only when the customer feels an attachment to your product to such an extent that they become ambassadors of your product/service. And such attachment comes only when in using your product/service, the customer enjoys an experience that exceeds his expectations.
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6. Inability to tell your story
Having a top quality product on the market is not enough. Having good, motivated and well trained employees is not enough. Having a digital presence is of no use if you cannot convincingly tell your story in a way that connects with your customers and appeals to their interest and emotions. In telling your story, don’t focus on the features of your product because customers are barely interested in that. Rather, tell how the product will solve the customer’s problem, have the end point in mind. And remember, you are not selling a product, you are selling an experience. A product that effectively tells its story and connects with the customer is a brand. And top brands are in a class of their own.
7. Low quality product
No matter how conspicuous your products are, or digitally present you are on the internet, if your products are of low quality or do not meet the expectations of the customer, the less likely customers will patronize you in future. Customers don’t consistently patronize you just for the sake of patronizing you or out of pity, they do because your product solves a problem for them. If customers buy your product/service and your product/service does not solve their problem or meet their expectations, they are likely not to come back. This means lower sales. But some importantly, one unsatisfied customer is equivalent to hundreds of lost sales or a dip in sales in the the scale of the depth of influence of the customer.
8. Poor packaging
A good product with poor packaging is like a pretty puppy striped of its hair and fur. Depending on your product and your current place at the market place, your packaging must be exciting enough to capture the interest of the customer but durable enough to deliver the product in excellent conditions to the customer. One of the best areas to be innovative is in how your products are packaged. With excellent packaging, you can make a statement of class and show your customers that your product belongs to a different class. Research has shown that good packaging design can drive up sales.
9. Government policies
In many countries, nothing influences market forces more than government policies. Sometimes, a single government policy can wipe out a company’s advantage in the shortest possible time, particularly when such a company is caught unawares or ill-prepared for that change. In a sector that is constantly evolving as the environment sector, it is important to keep abreast of government policies and to stay one step ahead of the market.
A few years ago in Nigeria, a government policy jolted the furniture industry in Nigeria. Many players in the sector at the time lost out. But some saw an opportunity in the chaos created by the disruptive government policy. Many like Mrs. Ibukun Awosika (CEO, The Chair Centre Group, and current Chairman, First Bank Nigeria Plc) seized the opportunity to reposition her company Quebees Limited (now The Chair Centre Limited) from an import-based company to a one that set up its full production in Nigeria. That decision has turned out to be one of the most important decisions of the company as the company has grown heaps and bounds into one of the biggest indigenous players in the sector.
- Idowu Kunlere
(Project Lead, Wastesmart Initiative)
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