By Femi Kusa
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TAHITIAN Noni is thundering this year into Nigeria’s nutritional or food supplements market in the same old bottle and label…but under a new owner, NEW AGE, and a brand new marketing plan as well. Live Pure, like New Age from the United States, set for this year by discarding the wholesaler or stockist interface with its distributors last November, jerking prices up a little, and finalizing standardization business procedures in Nigeria with those in America. Alliance In Motion, a.k.a AIM GLOBAL, continued a winning streak last year as predicted in this column would place it among the top notchers this year. Last Saturday, it jerked up the registration fee from N50,000 to N80,000 ending a business promotion phase. The return of chymall e-commerce from the shackles of Covid19 pandemic total lockdown in home country Malaysia was the fervent prayer of about three million Nigerians whose trades and trading capital have been out of business for one straight year. Leimall, springing in from Israeli and Egyptian backgrounds, is struggling to wriggle around the market with agriculture, medical, and nutraceutical products. It is a networking company like the others. In agriculture, it aims to add its weight to the new farming consciousness or to ignite a revolution. It collects monies from subscribers promising a 100 percent yield in some cases over one year periods in fish pond farming and other farm activities Nationwide. Investors who splash N1 million per slot are promised a profit of N1 million. In medicine, leimall runs a surgery business. If a subscriber knows anyone who is sick and requires surgery, and the sick person can afford the bill, leimall flies in the specialist surgeon to carry out the operation. The finder of the business gets his or her own commission, of course. The food supplements aspect of the business is still weak, in my humble opinion. The products are largely duplicates of products already in the market but refreshed only with new names.
The old, well-known networks are still very much around. Forever Living Products(FLP) and Edmark loom large in the Ikeja area of Lagos with their palatial offices and wide range of nutritional products. Also moving on, irrespective of the economy are long rich, Nature’s Gift for life (NG4), eternal, FOHOW, Kasly, Dynapharm, and Bell to mention a few. I am nostalgic about three products from Kasly…Cardiotonic pill (for blood circulation), phytoestrogen for women tormented by the excess of harsh human estrogens, and bee Propolis syrup for gum, mouth, and throat challenge especially. My heart goes to Dynapharm as it does chymall e-commerce. They are both from Malaysia which was severely stricken with covid 19 infections. With the whole country literally shut down, it became difficult for Dynapharm to easily obtain its star products. Some of them are liquid chlorophyll with guarana, dynatonic (for the liver and kidneys), goat milk, cappuccino coffee and Ganoderma powder, and red coffee with ginseng. The liquid chlorophyll competed with Edmark’s splina. Chlorophyll has the same structure as hemoglobin of the human red blood cells except for their central atoms. The structure is CARBON, HYDROGEN, NITROGEN, and OXYGEN. So, it helps oxygenation in its own ways. In chlorophyll, the central atom is magnesium which is needed by the muscles and quietens palpitations of the heart. In hemoglobin, the central atom is iron. Thus, with the consumption of chlorophyll, the body replaces the magnesium with iron and, literally speaking, the blood becomes “recharged” as with the recharging of a cell phone call credit.
Generally speaking, except perhaps for outages such as Hemptonics which, I am told is struggling to return to the market, 2021 was not a bad business year for the industry, irrespective of the foreign exchange challenges.
This is a baby of the pandemic in the United States. Worldwide, everyone had been saying life on Earth will never be the same again after the Coronavirus pandemic. For about 16 companies in the United States which prior to the pandemic individually pushed their businesses in their home country, nothing could be truer. They discovered that, individually, they could not easily or any longer achieve set goals in a severely stricken American economy, and that their survival in business lay in pushing together in a new super company which would not only subsume their identities but also markets their products abroad, particularly in Africa. The consolidation was achieved, New Age set for Africa and made South Africa its African headquarters. From there, it was expected to arrive in Nigeria last month or this one. From the look of things so far, the list of sixteen has shrunken to about six with a parade of several nutritional food supplements, two of which I immediately found interesting.
The first is TAHITIAN NONI. The second is a newcomer to Nigeria HIRO. By highlighting these two, I am not saying or predicting that the other products in New Age stable cannot be or are not destined to be firecrackers, too. Almost everyone in my generation has heard of or taken Tahitian Noni as a nutritional supplement. It came in through Ghana in the late 1990s after its introduction to the world in 1996. The Nigerian brand comprises Tahitian Noni juice, natural grapefruit juice, and natural blueberry juice. It was imported into Nigeria by a company called SOMETHING NEW. The importation was taken over later by C.J Frankin (Nigeria ) Limited. When the exchange rate became intolerable for this importer, it yielded a way to Vifest services limited which began to market it in Nigeria under the Unilevel networking business plan. The products literature of Tahitian Noni promotes it as an antioxidant, energy giver, immune booster, adaptogens, stress reliever, joint health, mobility, etc. Irrespective of the hundreds of independent studies on Noni fruit juice, the proprietary Tahitian Noni fruit juice which incorporates grape juice and blueberry juice is validated by no fewer than 8 human clinical trials. These clinical studies additionally promote it as a “perfect antidote to today’s stressful life”. With the change of management internationally, Tahitian Noni has had to be rebranded abroad in a new glass bottle packaging amid with a new label to reflect the changes. But, in Nigeria, the product will be a bottle of old wine in an old bottle because of an anticipated huge cost of getting the changes approved or accepted by NAFDAC.
To get New Age going, the Chief Executive Officer of Tahitian Noni International, JOHN WADSWORTH, subsumed himself as a director on the board of New Age which is cheered by BRENT WILLIS. The other companies which also came in town are Noni, Ariix, Limu, Zennoa, Mavie and Aliven Invel Alliance.
I do not need to gaze on a crystal ball to know what questions will trouble the old distributors of Tahitian Noni as it comes under a new company and business plan. Will they maintain their old ranks in vifest services limited or are they starting afresh? No, they will not start afresh. Their new identification number will be preceded by the alphabet “N” to stand for Nigeria But they will move to a new marketing plan…MULTILINE away from UNILEVER. The Multiline is said to have more compensation benefits than either the Unilevel or the Binary level.
If you keenly watch a mother dog at play and in a row with her puppies, you may quickly catch the picture of policy changes in this company in November last year. A Southwestern Nigerian saying captures it all: the set of teeth a mother dog at play tickles her puppies with is the set of teeth the mother dog, angry, bites them with. Live Pure has been in existence for over 11 years. It came into the African market through Nigeria and began business in March 2019, pushing only about six of its products in the Nigerian market. These are Pure Organic Sulphur, Cleanse capsules, Daily Build, Purxcel and Goyin. Unknown to even many distributors of networking business, it is not the company they are dealing directly with at startup. The company “officials” they see “on the ground” and relate with are business contractors. A contractor is hired to open up the market in Africa through Ghana, South Africa or Nigeria, for example. The contractor becomes the first “upline”. That is his/her “inheritance” or “aje mo’nu ti e ni yen” as we say in Yorubaland. Being the first upline is that, irrespective of the contract fee, he/she is entitled to bonuses for life from all purchases of the products. It is a case of “he who works at the altar must eat at the altar”. The contractor is mindful that purchasing power in Nigeria is weaker than it is in America and, so, steps down rigorous business terms in Nigeria. For example, where the minimum monthly order acceptable in America for a distributor to be entitled to bonuses from the purchases of downlines is #100,000 a month, the contractor may step it down to #50,000 in Nigeria. What the home head office expects is a blue balance sheet, not excuses for red prints.
Live Pure behaved to terms at startup. Even the terms for company-paid foreign trips for top achievers were lowered because even the lower goals, were thought too hard to achieve. But the Nigerian entrepreneur spirit shocked the contractors. Far too many distributors than expected qualified, impacting pressure on a slim travel budget. So, literally speaking, the operations were wheeled into the theatre for surgical corrections of flabs and frills. The first major casualty was the stockist or wholesaler plan. The stockist was like a service center. The plan was costing the contractor huge bonus payoffs for taking sales pressure off the office. Now, the office would rather face the pressure and pocket the payoffs to reduce operational costs. And now that the stockist bridge to the distributor market has been removed, all distributors from last December were required to make direct online purchases from the company which is the business model in the United States. The orders are to be delivered through courier services. How easy for business this will be in Nigeria, only time will tell.
When more Nigerian distributors than were expected qualified for foreign travels to the United States last year, LIVE PURE almost ran into a ditch. All distributors who qualified in every country were to congregate in the United States under the program nicknamed “UNITE”. But covid 19 was still seriously on the rampage in that country. Foreigners previously invited to UNITE were asked to stay at home. This created quite a stir among prospective Nigerian “pilgrims” to UNITE who were prepared to bear the health risks. In the end, the agitation was resolved when LIVE PURE paid each of the qualified distributors N500,000. Although this payoff could not purchase a return ticket for each person, not to mention the hotel, food, and local transport bills, it was half a loaf of bread better than none in the heated Nigerian economy. In any case, it was money for the pocket in Nigeria which the American economy would have drained through tourism. So, head or tail, Nigeria and the Nigerian distributors won. Hitherto, live pure did not pay cash bonuses in lieu of foreign travel.
There is no bigger dice than was stated in 2022 OUTLOOK: AIM GLOBAL, EARN FOR LIFE (please see www.olufemikusa.com). The products are unique in many cases because of their alkaline, antioxidant, and polyphenol thrusts. The I-PROTECT is about the slowest coach because of the packaging. It is a product said to destroy bacteria and viruses within three meters radius. That should excite the market in a Covid19 pandemic season. To be honest, it did in the first packaging which was a metal bangle and a necklace. The present package which looks every bit like a roped ID card hung from the neck lost the fashion appeal.
It is possible AIM GLOBAL would have achieved bigger growth last year if it reformed its marketing theme. Much marketing appears to be done on the radio with little time or none to answer inquiries. These are reserved for business plan presentations called “seminars”. The impression is inadvertently created in the marketing stunt that daily income-earning would begin immediately one signed up with #50,000 to become a partner or distributor. Chasers of easy money become frustrated when they learn later that hard and consistent work brings plum daily earnings. It is difficult to blame the business plan presenters of deceit. The business plan provides for daily huge earnings, no doubt. The flaw in the presentations is that the would-be gold digger is not well-advised that he has to dig out the gold to have it. Thus many of the prospective distributors who enrolled with high expectations of automatic earnings may have become inactive so soon after.
Aim global products are unique and frontally confront the health challenges of today with the phytonutrients which the research community says can vanquish them…antioxidants, alkaline and phenolic compounds. But big players in the distribution network have become, as in other unsuspecting networks, like huge fruity trees such as the mango which do not allow any foliage to thrive or to grow under them. Take the mango tree as an example. Does another tree grow under it? Does the cocoyam or the pawpaw tree permit vegetable seeds down under the shadow of their leaves to sprout and to grow? What IAM saying is that these big players mop up new product stocks whenever they arrive, making it difficult for the upcoming distributors to get products to buy without paying obeisance to their overlords, their hefty uplines. Thus, some infants drop off now and then. But the lion-hearted soldiers on. Some in this category even restock their Nigerian stores from the AIM GLOBAL offices abroad, since the business is international. But how many can go through the stress and the maneuvers? The company cannot be blamed for this. Nor can the big players. We are in a free market economy that subscribes to the conception of WARFARE IN NATURE in which the strong overcomes the weak. But the company, playing the smart Maverick, can keep it’s lines growing by discouraging hoarding to create artificial scarcity. It can provide more stocks after each mopping.If the re-orders cycle is once in three months, it may be brought down to six or four weeks with some of the stock warehoused outside the main stores like grains of maize kept in silos to be released during a market shortage.
To do nothing worthwhile is to helplessly watch like Edmark when the big boys sold its products right at the gate of its offices in the heavy Opebi road traffic about a decade or more ago. Nutrihealth from South Africa fared no better before it bowed out. Bell is probably still on its feet today, and still generous with bonus payoffs because it was able to gird its loins in good time. Hardly do I hear of the green world, Keri, tian shi and other forerunners of today’s twinkling stars. They all had their fair tastes of the “Nigerian business factors”.
A FORWARD MATCH
The business weather is still roughened by economic uncertainties. But the hope of a bright future is never in want in any mangled Nigerian economy. The population is still rapidly growing, providing a huge market for business than in any African business hub. Politics should as usual throw up some cash this year, a pre-election year. An aging population means more business for the health sector. A growing craving for nutrition in the prevention and management of health discomfiture means more patronage for Alternative Medicine services. The Nigeria market is still too weak to make homegrown medicines. It cannot make garlic oil from garlic bulbs, although it is one of the biggest garlic bulb growers worldwide. The market cannot make lemongrass oil although it can grow lemongrass from Lagos to Ibadan. We grow palm fruit, but can we extract tocopherols and tocotrienols from it? We make coconut oil from coconut. But can we make coconut milk powder from it? Euro Americans will exploit these weaknesses and a vacuum. Nigerians will tickle them to come over with networking. Aren’t we already expecting encapsulated bitter leaf and okra imported from the United States for sale through a network? We live in an ever mobile world, in obedience to nature’s law of perpetual motion under which stagnation brings collapse or ruin.
The year 2022 will, therefore, not be a stagnant year. We will all be a part of its forward match. So, guard your loins. The safety valve is to not join or risk business with a network without deep intercontinental roots.