As a successful entrepreneur and business executive, you are well aware of the importance of conducting market research when entering an unfamiliar market, as well as how to use the information gathered to develop short- and long-term goals for your business. However, finding reliable business information in Nigeria can be extremely difficult.
As a nation that knows a thing or two about oil, I find the phrase “data is the new oil” intriguing. While it is not evident who to credit for this fascinating turn of words, when it comes to sourcing business information in Nigeria I find it very appropriate. For well over 150 years, the hunt for oil spurred exploration, produced massive amounts of wealth and even led nations to war. Today, it is he who owns the data that now owns the future. Data and information is indeed the new oil.
The problem for multinational corporations looking to break into the booming Nigerian market is that credible business information in Nigeria is about as hard to source as oil itself. With Nigeria’s complex market structure, which delivers incomplete data that is housed in many different locations and “minds”, finding quality information is simply put – cumbersome. New businesses find themselves ready to embark on this quest to find information, but with no map to start. However, those determined to find “the new oil” in Nigeria will emerge the victors in this growing market.
Listed below are a few suggestions on how to find quality business information in the Nigerian market as a new entrant.
Review industry reports from credible sources. Pull reports from sources, such as KPMG, and other reputable consulting firms that have a presence in Nigeria, or the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics, to gain a better understanding of the Nigerian market from a quantitative viewpoint. However, try to keep in mind that even if they have industry-specific data that is helpful, the reports might provide you with more of an overview of the industry than a comprehensive analysis.
Speak with industry experts. Reach out to experts in the Nigerian community for business information, as they will have firsthand knowledge as to how the market operates. You will be surprised how a quality 30-minute conversation with the right expert will give you valuable insights for your venture into the Nigerian market. While this information will be useful, it will also be limited by the expert’s perspective. Furthermore, the number of firsthand accounts you accumulate will be relative to the size of your network in Nigeria.
Interview potential customers. Getting to know your consumer base in a new market is essential. Even though you will need to use your resources to fly to Nigeria, stay in the area, and travel around to conduct in-person interviews in Nigeria, you will ultimately gain a better understanding of your target customer, which will ultimately inform your marketing plans.
Attend conferences and forums. Granted, these events can feel like tedious ways to get the information you’re seeking. However, they also serve as great opportunities to meet professionals in your industry and make connections with people who can provide advice on navigating the Nigerian market as a new entrant.
Employ a local market service team. Marketing teams from the area know the local business landscape and can, therefore, provide you with valuable data. If you choose to go this route, try to select a service provider who has a proven track record of providing credible information and insights.
Work with a consulting firm. Hiring one of the large, well-known consulting firms, such as McKinsey & Company or KPMG, can be an expensive move, however, employing the services of a reliable firm can also be very advantageous. A consulting firm that is knowledgeable about the Nigerian market will have the resources to quickly collect information and assist you in distilling and transforming that information into an action plan. Choosing a firm based off a referral or proven credibility is your best bet.
Having boots on-ground
All of the approaches listed above serve as beneficial pieces to the puzzle – that is – gathering business information in Nigeria. Without the right information, you might as well be setting out into the unknown wilderness at night looking for oil with a flashlight and a shovel.
It could be quite challenging to know where to start but the most important first step in this journey is finding a local guide to take you through all of the above recommendations.
Not only can a guide with boots on the ground in Nigeria save you the time of constant travel and research, but they will be able to provide conclusions with first-hand cultural context. Explorers in search of oil wouldn’t have dared step out into new lands without a local guide and corporations seeking credible business information in Nigeria would be wise to follow suit.