By Azeez Disu
The importance of quality sleep cannot be over emphasized. Every year, globally, its importance is reignited on “World Sleep Day’’. However, beyond quality sleep, there is also emphasis on sleeping on quality mattresses. According to medical experts, sleeping on the wrong mattress will alter the natural curvature of the spine thereby resulting in musculoskeletal problems that could lead to possible injury and shortening of life span.
In line with this, a study was conducted in 2009 on mattresses focused on 59 healthy men and women. They slept for 28 consecutive nights on their regular mattresses, then another 28 nights on new, medium-firm mattresses. They were asked to evaluate their stress levels based on factors like worrying, racing thoughts, nervousness, irritability, headaches, trembling and more. The new beds resulted in “a significant decrease in stress,” according to the study, possibly because of the related increase in sleep quality and decrease in pain associated with the firmer setup.
Similarly, in a 2011 poll, the National Sleep Foundation, a U.S nonprofit organization, found that 92 percent of people say a comfortable mattress is important to a good night’s sleep.
In the mattress manufacturing space in Africa, Mouka Limited, a leading manufacturer of mattresses in Nigeria is a name synonymous with quality. According to independent research conducted by a Nigerian media outfit, Mouka was selected by consumers as the number one brand in the category.
Foam and Mattress Landscape
According to statista, in 2017, the global mattress market was valued at $27.87 billion. Interestingly, the market has been witnessing robust growth, mainly due to the factors, such as growing disposable income, increasing population and rising migration from rural to urban areas. ResearchAndMarkets reportforecasts that the industry will attain the value of $38,976 million by 2023.
Amazingly, competitive activities have made the industry better. In Nigeria, Mouka is an undisputed leader in its industry; its recognitions locally and internationally as well as consumer surveys support this assertion.
It is noteworthy that the brand has a wide distribution chain, with over three hundred third-party distributors in Nigeria. It also has more than a thousand branded sale points across the country. Its production facilities are strategically located across Nigeria and it consistently embarks on marketing drives which help it to stay connected with customers.
Raymond Murphy, the Chief Executive Officer of Mouka Limited said, “In terms of Mouka’s position in the Nigerian market, if I go back five years, Mouka was definitely the number two brand in the foam and mattress space in Nigeria. At that time, market research revealed that the brand was at risk. This indicated that we underinvested in the brand over a period of years. Even then, Mouka had a spontaneous household awareness of 95 percent which was remarkable. Consumers were telling us that the brand was not progressing. It was seen as dated and not contemporary. This prompted us to re-evaluate our activities and undertake a major revamp. We had to get back out there and start to really communicate with our loyal consumer base. And over the last four years, the investment behind the Mouka brand has paid off. We have seen over 500 percent increase in the marketing investment behind the brand”.
Revamp and Innovations from the Iconic Brand
Speaking on the revamp that the company has embarked upon recently, Murphy disclosed, “We have revamped our marketing. We invested above the line with the launch of a number of new TV and radio commercials. In line with consumer media consumption trends, we increased our focus on digital marketing. We completely revamped our website and strengthened consumer engagement via social media.
We also did a critical analysis of our previous route to market and identified opportunities which we are leveraging today. We have national reach with our distribution through the traditional distributors’ channels but that has not been enough. In the last two years, we have invested in setting up our own Mouka Sleep Galleries. We have opened nine (9) world class Mouka sleep galleries in 9 months. In these outlets, consumers get to shop in style for their mattresses and sleep accessories.”
In its continued drive to add comfort to life since 1959, on 2019 World Sleep Day held recently, it opened a world class Sleep Gallery at its corporate head office in Lagos in addition to the other sleep galleries across the country.
The CEO of Mouka also had this to say, “As part of the extensive work in strengthening our route to market, we have established our e-commerce platform to make Mouka products even more accessible to our consumers. In addition, we have stepped up our activities in the modern trade channel.”
In the same vein, the company said it would not rest on its oars in offering quality and innovative products to consumers. On this note, it promised to launch new products every quarter.
“We aim to add value to our current propositions as well as introduce innovative products. Mouka made a commitment to its distributors and consumers to keep its assortment vibrant. This will be accomplished by the launch of a new product every quarter over the next two years. We have been successful in doing that over the last 12 months.” Murphy revealed.
“We have also renovated some of the existing products to make them more modern, fresh, and contemporary in order to meet the aspirations of our existing consumers.”
One of the innovative products we launched recently is the Dreamtime mattress, which is the first of its kind in the Nigerian market. This product is specially designed to cater to the quality sleep needs of children. Mouka Dreamtime mattress is made with foam that provides the right body support for kids and is covered with a water resistant yet breathable fabric.
Another product recently launched by Mouka is the Mondeo Spring mattress which is made with world-class Bonnell Spring technology to ensure the spring core does not poke out like other spring mattresses. Additional product benefits include extra comfort layer, right spine alignment and unparalleled durability to make every night a real good night.
“Mouka invested in being the first in Nigeria to bring what is called Bonnell Spring technology which made the old perception of spring mattress history. ” Murphy explained.
The CEO also stated that the company’s products are affordable and specially designed for every consumer irrespective of their disposable income. “Regardless of the amount of naira in your pocket, there is a Mouka mattress and Mouka pillow which should be affordable to you.”
As an innovative company, the brand has consistently churned out customer-centric products which have been backed by a series of campaigns. Also, influencers like young comedian, Emmanuella, Lotachukwu, Adunni Ade, and former Big Brother Nigeria housemate, Tobi Bakare have equally helped push its campaigns to consumers which have resulted in remarkable consumer engagement.
Explaining some of the campaigns launched, Murphy said, “What is interesting for us is that we teamed up with Mark Angel Comedy on a video with Emmanuella that went viral. It was a wonderful 2-3 minutes creative which ended up having more than five million hits in Nigeria in a space of two months. That for us is innovative and spectacular.
Awards and Recognition
Excitingly, through hard work and dedication, the company has won series of awards both locally and internationally. Some of them are “Mattress Brand of 2017” by the African Brand Congress Nigeria, recognised as one of the companies to inspire Africa by London Stock Exchange for two consecutive editions (2017 and 2019) and the Mattress Manufacturing Company of the Year at the 2017 edition of The Guardian Manufacturing Excellence Award.
“On awards, I will say from 2016 till date, we have been winning an increasing number of awards. These are awards for quality, brand awareness, etc. One of the biggest awards that we have won is the recognition by the London Stock Exchange Group as a company to inspire Africa. In 2017, we were recognized for increased brand awareness and our financial success as a business. That was a major accolade in 2017 from the London Stock Exchange.
More importantly, in 2019, we won that same award again. So far, we are one of the few companies to be recognized by the London Stock Exchange on two consecutive occasions. No other mattress/foam company either in Nigeria or in Africa can claim to be recognised on two consecutive occasions by that London Stock Exchange Group.
“This shows that we are obviously doing things right to increase our awareness not just within Nigeria but also within the broader African community such that we are being recognised by the prestigious London Stock Exchange Group.”
The core values of the brand revolve around passion, integrity, innovation, performance and excellence.
Speaking more on the company’s operational philosophy, Murphy said, “We ensure quality standards in everything that we do. If I look at our three manufacturing facilities we operate up to international standards and they are ISO certified. We also comply with every Nigerian regulation in terms of the environment, health and safety.
“We make sure that what goes in and out of our factories is of the topmost quality. We were the first mattress company in Nigeria to offer product warranties to guarantee our products, and we continue to do that today.”
He added that as well as ensuring quality, the training and retraining of its members of staff and its deployment of modern technologies for its operations has helped the company grow remarkably.
Also, he explained further that its distributors are regarded as business partners, the reason is because “Here at Mouka, we do not have distributors, rather, we have business partners. Many of them are second generation partners. These are people whose mothers or fathers were business partners with us before their children took over from them. This is to tell you that some families have been partnering with Mouka for decades.” Murphy disclosed.
In the words of Philip Kotler, American marketing author, consultant and professor “A good company offers excellent products and services. A great company also offers excellent products and services but also strives to make the world a better place.”
In terms of making the world a better place, Mouka has contributed meaningfully through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
“In terms of CSR, we intend to do a lot more. We have supported a lot of orphanage projects around Nigeria. We have given back to the communities in the last few years, but we need to do more. Right now, our Human Resources and Marketing teams are evaluating a number of CSR projects that we will soon embark upon.” Murphy stated.