The organisers of the Consumer Value Awards, Consumer Value Broadcasting, is finalising plans for the maiden edition of its innovative award, conceived in line with the age-old maxim, “Consumer is King”. Akonte Ekine, CEO, Absolute PR and Consumer Value Broadcasting speaks to BrandCrunch on the concept, mechanism and the intent of the CVA and the role of the critical role of the consumer. “We recognize consumers’ experiences as a vehicle for distinguishing leading products, services and companies worthy of consumers’ money”. Find out how and more in this interview. Excerpts
What is consumer value?
It is that perception of expectation and the reality of the performance of a product to the money spent on the product for an assumed satisfaction. So If I am expecting to buy and use a detergent to wash and that detergent was able to enable me to have my laundry done with ease and better result, I have derived some measure of value from that brand of detergent. That’s what consumer value is and it could be functional and emotional depending on the taste, experience and status of the consumers involved.
How does this bear on the planned awards?
The award is a celebration of the values enjoyed by the consumers through the votes that shows that various consumers of products are happy with what they experienced. We are attempting to build feedback or contribute to the feedback mechanism with very authentic and verifiable evidence of the claims of the brands through a simple vote for the brands. This is the consumers’ power of expression. Expressing some form of trust or satisfaction with brands in the marketplace and at the same time enabling other consumers in decision making in the middle of alternatives. I am sure that if a brand is voted brand of value by over 10,000 consumers it will only enable a reasonable consumer to make a decision appropriately.
What is the difference between your CVA and other awards dotting all over the place?
We are firstly an independent entity with the goal to build integrity around the content and value we are bringing to the marketplace. We want to contribute to the development of consumers narratives from the perspective of the consumers through the celebration of the eight rights of the consumers, we do hope that we will be able to use the eight rights of the consumers as springboards to holding brands responsible and accountable hence the awards are strictly driven by votes from the consumers for brands that make them happy.
I will rather commend other awards organisers for the creativity and efforts invested in hosting the awards. We are in a complex environment and we should look at complementing each other and improving on standards for things to be better
Are you not worried that the common reputation of awards in the industry such as “highest bidders” and awards based on the “rule of the thumb”, is huge baggage the CVA has to contend with?
We like to say that we all have names and our names mean different things to different members of the society we belong. Our responsibility at consumers Value Broadcasting is primarily to promote consumers’ value through the celebration of people, products and services. I am sure the society and those on the path you referred to will have some form of reasons for plying their trade in the manner you have described it and if they have audiences that enjoyed that it simply means that they have a market but I am sure that the purpose of our sets of awards is aimed at ensuring that some level of sanity through value appreciation is accepted.
We are new and we are hoping that we can build the right conversation for the members of the society to see the sincerity of purpose in what we are doing.
How do you ensure this ill (reputation-wise) does not demean your innovative CVA?
Our goal is as simple as it can be for consumers to celebrate consumers through product validation and the website is very transparent for everyone interested. We are on a marathon knowing that reputation doesn’t fall from above, it is something you earn from your behaviour, so we have set out to be very responsible and sincere with what we are trying to do such that in the long run, we will be able to stand and look into the faces of brand custodians with some questions
What is the role of the average Nigerian consumer in this, and what is he expected to do?
We desire that all of us as consumers will find time to visit www.consumersvalueawards.com to look at the site and see brands nominated for voting and then cast votes for various categories subject to our understanding of the brands’ performances. The visitor will have to register his or her email address to be able to vote as an OTP will be sent to the email for identification.
We do hope that doing this will also show to the audiences that we are sincere and we are trying to be objective by avoiding multiple voting through different devices.
We are asking consumers to see it as an opportunity to send messages to the owners of the products by voting. We hope that some brands will get the message.
Why is a whole quarter dedicated to voting for this award?
We must build understanding towards universal appealing to the public/consumers to accept the new baby and allow the new baby to get recognition. Yes, three months of voting is also for all of us to experience fairness in the competition for brand evaluation. It is a national project and a long-term programme hence we must clearly show the world that we have enough time and room for people/consumers to vote so that when we are announcing results, we will not be asked strange and funny questions. We want the world to know that voting is ongoing till June 30th with the hope that even just reading this interview will prompt someone to cast vote for a brand based on experience. We just must allow the consumers to respond to the voting, we can’t force it and to ensure the world is aware, we are talking about it and encouraging even the brand owners at the most senior level to encourage voting within the businesses so it is important to do minimum of 3 months of consumers self-evaluation of brands as the case may be for us to have the right level of result that both consumers and the brands will be happy to celebrate
What are the other mechanics in place for the emergence of true Nigerian value brands?
I think first we must be clear here that brands don’t wear nationality in the mind of the consumers, what they wear is either emotional or functional value. The origin of a brand is only significant to a consumer if it brings value to the consumer either emotional or functional so we are not looking for a truly Nigerian brand what we are asking for is that consumers should use their vote to tell us if a brand is of Value in terms of money spent for it. It is a value for money award tied to what the consumer feels about the product after consumption. The issue of brand origin and value is another subject that I think we probably will not address completely however; it will be nice to see one day that we have Nigerian brands that can reflect that great value such as the car brand coming out the East of the country and supported by the governor of a state. Now the question of the origin of that brand and quality can spark a series of conversations because sentiments will come into it but when you placed the brand beside contemporary brands in the global space where will it be especially when you look at the tradition and history of players in that sector with global awards to back existence.
The other part is that what we are doing with hope is that we are going to also be calling on regulators to stand up and be counted on issues of relevance to consumers and product standards. It’s a long journey but we have to start from somewhere and I think this is the first call for us in celebrating people, products and services.
How do the brands take part in this exercise, what is expected of brands and brand owners?
Well, all brands are qualified to be part of this but what we did was to spend time in some market and do some level of observation in the market and follow it up with some questions among consumers. Now as a result of that we nominated some brands and thus based on those nominations we expect consumers to vote. The brand owners have been duly informed about the site with the hope that they will take a look and also vote. What will be nice is to see some of the owners of the brands wear their pride or badge of honour and campaign for their brands in the public space to get votes if they understand what it means at the end of the day. We are creating opportunities for the pride of a brand to be endorsed by the consumers the real influencers in the modern world of marketing. We want to celebrate the power of the consumers with brands, it is a narrative everyone should be happy to have.
What categories are available in this debut edition?
We have over 30 categories as our first attempt at conducting an electronic voting system for the consumers and we did segmentation following the present visibility of products in the market. So, we expect that consumers will also come along with us on the journey of ensuring that brands do better in offering services that are worth the money spent.
What is the concept of the main awards night, bearing in mind that sponsorship has a way of eroding credibility?
Firstly, the night is the gathering of brands and celebration of value for money. We are going to be as interesting as possible in presenting the substance of identity to the various winners in the light.
Consumers Value Awards is young and thus we are going to be doing things in our way, as our culture is first integrity and secondly integrity. It will be nice to have brands showing interest in the programme with the intent to sponsor, however, that is not a guarantee.
Any other thing you want the public to know about the CVA?
We are opening a new and interesting chapter in consumers conversation, and we will be happy to see that consumers are very much interested in ensuring that our country is in line with global consumer rights. This is one of the rights of the consumers- To be heard!