At Checkers Africa Limited, quality is our watchword, head of marketing, Timothy Ogundele


Checkers Africa Limited, makers of Checkers Custard brand may be (relatively) new in the Nigerian market compared to the other brands in the category. However, for four years, the brand has been able to position itself in the faces of consumers climbing its way to the top of the chain as market leader. Of course, the feat did not come cheap but, like every successful brand worth its salt, Checkers Africa Limited explored every available channel to create that top-of-the-mind awareness for the Checkers brand among the custard consuming audience.

Aside producing quality custard brand which comes in four variants with a target of increasing the number, the brand was recently voted Value for Money Custard Brand of the Year 2022 by consumers at the maiden Consumers Value Awards held in Ikeja, Lagos.

In this interview with Media Consortium team, Godwin Anyebe, Adetunji Faleye and Amechi Obiakpu, Mr. Timothy Ogundele, Head of Marketing/Brands Manager, Checkers Africa Ltd at their Lagos administrative office, says the award among several awards the company has bagged in recent time is a testament to how much connection the brand has with the consumers. He also talks on other issues. Excerpt.


Feelings at Checkers Africa Limited for the awards

Naturally we feel excited, because the award is on merit. Connecting the dots prior to this particular notification of the award, it was our digital manager that drew our attention to the poll a few months to the Consumers Value Awards online voting. Normally, we do media rounds and social listening on a regular basis and we know it is something we did not instigate, but something that was triggered by people and other brands in the market. So, it feels very great to know that our effort in providing quality foods, snacks and in-between meal fillers of the highest quality is recognized. Checkers Africa Limited is a new brand compared to many other brands in the custard or pudding market. It started in 2018 and has become category king in a short while. This is something we are very happy about.


Dominance in the custard market

For the brand, Checkers Custard, quality is the very first thing. We have a very high standard of quality. From sourcing of raw materials, to production, packaging and the marketing, it has been something that has come together by design. We watch the market, we knew what obtained in the market, which informed how we entered into this space and having a management team that has the experience is a plus. So, it was very deliberate and strategic in coming into the market with the product to secure the market share. Prior to Checkers Custard’s entrance, there have been other custard products. But since the coming of Checkers, there has been a paradigm shift in the market place, and we have been able to use quality delivery of our product, our marketing channels and our sales and distribution network to make sure that Checkers is something that is for the consumers, a must have.


Marketing innovations at Checkers Africa

The truth is, we are only just consolidating on what you see with marketing now. From the beginning, marketing was not the very first thing we focused on, it was ensuring that the product was right- through product development, and ensuring that it is pushed properly to the market for the consumers. We ensured that their appetite was whet and so, when they discovered what they had been missing that generated demand on the back end using the pull model. When Checkers was able to secure its place in the market to a good extent, we started focusing on marketing. We did not start a full-blown ATL-level marketing from the onset. It started with a mix of ground work, word of mouth, engagement by staff and other stakeholders in the organization in the markets. Of course, that translated to the populace followership followed by the launch of digital marketing to push the product further.

This is a fast-growing company, and the marketing spend has to be consolidated on such that you have the kind of organic growth for the marketing to be expanded to where it is today and of course growing beyond that. And at this point in time, we are exploring every channel possible to maintain our lead. Again, in pushing the brand, we have to be very deliberate in passing the brand message to the populace. That has been a very strategic position that we have used to actually look at our target and how the brand will appeal to them through their emotive faculties, and the whole aim is to make our brand get to such a place of lead which is quite a process. Even though at certain time, you have to fall back and ask yourself if you are doing the right thing. And that is part of what we are doing right now.


Brand target and adult demography. 

Custard before now in peoples mind was viewed as something for children. In fact, in Francophone countries what they call it baby food. The truth is that custard is a food that is welcome for every age, from six months to adults. Normally we don’t encourage children below six months to consume custard; in some climes, its usually from two years and above that it is recommended. But, our core targets are young people and young adults. We are able to sell to people who would naturally be said to be custard consumers. As much as parents and adults are the people that spend for the younger ones, there is also a kind of ripple effect where children love somethings, adults will have taste of that thing. That is not a phenomenon that I will say it’s research proven but, I think that when parents buy things for the children they will naturally want to ensure that thing is good for them.

Mr. Timothy Ogundele, Head of Marketing/Brands Manager, Checkers Africa Ltd

Distribution network to guard against scarcity.

We have a strong distribution network. I can confidently tell you that you will get us in every state in Nigeria, and we have even gone beyond the shores of the country and touch as far as the northern region including the northeast, north central, northwest, south-south, south-east and southwest.  We have city heads and area sales managers covering various and different locations in the country. We have even started selling our products outside the country. We have presence in some west African countries like, Ghana, Cameroun, Cote de-Ivoire among others. We have equally been able to get to many African stores in the UK and a couple in the US. We have constant request for our products in these countries and beyond.


About Checkers Africa Limited

Checkers Africa Ltd is a fast-moving consumer goods company known for quality food and products for households. We have a vision to be present in 100% of African homes. We have a very robust management team blessed with people who have massive knowledge of Nigeria and the Nigerian market. This has made them to have very deep knowledge of the taste, lifestyle and customs of the nation, the continent and beyond. Checkers Africa has its administrative office in Lagos and a factory in Ikorodu where we produce all our products. Checkers Custard is the flagship product. We also have Checkers Oats and Checkers Crunchy Peanuts.


For the custard we have four variants – the vanilla, banana, the custard 3-in-one which is fortified with vitamins A and D, high quality sugar and high-quality milk. And very recently, we launched the chocolate 4-in-one. For us, there is no stopping. We are also looking at launching other products either later in the year or early next year. Even with the economic uncertainty, we are trying our best. Sourcing foreign exchange has been a challenge among other issues we are dealing with but, Checkers is committed to ensuring that we bring the highest quality products at affordable prices.


Sourcing for raw materials.

Our raw materials are sourced from the very best sources in Nigeria and beyond. Mind you, it costs a lot to ensure that your consumers continue to enjoy quality products and being a premium product, this is one of the prices we must pay to continue to serve our customers the best products.


Resolving customers complain.

We have a good customer relationship team that promptly respond to all customers queries. And, all our digital channels and social media platforms are active enough to connect fully with our customers and respond to their query in good time.


Tackling adulteration.

This scenario has played out severally and each time it comes up we have been able to respond appropriately. There will be unscrupulous elements and a trend-setter is bound to cause a copy bandwagon effect to come to play, but each time, Checkers is tested and, we prevail.


Secret behind product extension.

For any brand that wants to grow, you need to have your ear to the ground. At Checkers Africa Limited, we have a very good feedback system from the market. From every possible channel, from word of mouth and all, we pool together a lot of data that ensured that our feedback are accurate to some of the decisions we have taken so far. For us, it is not just that we want to push the brands out, we have been able to talk to the people that matter, people that consume our products. Based on this, and other relevant factors we have to take decision to create the various variants and to decide on the right time to push each of the variant to the market. Of course, it is also in our vision to have a good and growing number of products in our portfolio that will constantly satisfy the consumers yearning and to keep them loyal to our brands


Brand loyalty.

Personally, I don’t work with brands that does not appeal to me. Consumers have a very simple way of choosing brand. And once a consumer has latched on to a brand, there is a reason – it’s not just because of the advertising or the like but, because they have had some kind of unique or satisfying experience with that brand. That brand loyalty is something that is very hard to break. When people see what they love, they stick to it.


Innovative ideas from Checkers Africa Limited in the next few years

At Checkers Africa, we understand how the world is these days – so, it not just about sales. Though, we are here to sell, we are also here to connect to them. And in talking about innovations, we have programmes, CSR projects and other proprietary projects.

For instance, we started a football tourney last year which for now is restricted to staff of the company but in no distant time it will be open it to make it more like a mini tournament.

Last year December, we did something for orphanages, ‘Checkers Cares’, where we donated some amount of that tallied the following and engagement recorded on our social media platforms as a result of the campaign. The monies went to orphanages in every region of the country. There are a lot of other programmes that have been lined up to give back to the society, to engage and to make our prospects a part of our story.

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