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Porsche targets wealthy Nigerians with a taste for big brands

posted 20 Mar 2012, 06:31 by Mpelembe   [ updated 20 Mar 2012, 06:31 ]

German car maker Porsche introduces new brands to Nigeria targetting the country's wealthy consumers, who love to be associated with fine international luxury brands.

German carmaker Porsche introduced the Carrera 911 model to Nigeria's market at its new car dealership in the heart of Lagos' wealthiest district, Victoria Island this weekend.
The car lot at the Porsche show room currently boasts some 20 different models, though experts say the one expected to best operate in a country with such poor roads is the Cayenne 4x4.

That didn't stop the Carrera 911 stealing the show however, a luxury two-door coupe with a leather interior originally designed for the race track and first developed in 1963.

High-end goods producers are increasingly targeting sub-Saharan Africa's emerging markets and Nigeria is seen as one of the most desirable places to attract high end consumers.

The country, Africa's top oil producer, grew 7.68 percent in the last quarter of 2011, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

George Wills, Manager Porsche Middle East and Africa said Nigeria was a unique market with a lot of potential for growth.

"What you have here is an open playing field, whereas obviously in the UK every sort of 20, 30, 40 miles you have another Porsche centre, so hence why this is the size that it is, but we believe that we have the capacity here to grow," Wills said.

But the market for luxury goods in Nigeria is also fed by an elite population of wealthy businessmen and women with a penchant for the finer things.

Paris-based magazine Jeune Afrique last year placed Nigeria at the top of Africa's champagne consumers, guzzling 593,000 bottles in 2010, 50 percent more than richer rival South Africa.

Michael Wagner, brand manager Porsche Lagos said marketers had zeroed in on this culture.

"Nigeria is probably one of the most sophisticated markets in terms of our customers that are buying them, considering that Nigerians are probably one of the most well travelled people around, so it is a very sophisticate market and they certainly appreciate the finer brands and very very aware of the finer brands so Porsche certainly offers those and meets all those requirements," Wagner said.

However, Lagos, Nigeria's sprawling commercial city with its congested potholed roads and poor drainage systems raises questions about the practicality of owning and driving a Porsche.

Wagner admitted the roads in Lagos would offer some challenges to drivers and that Porsche also plans to set up operations in the capital Abuja, where roads were slightly better.

"Certainly in Lagos you would have to be careful while you are driving but considering other sports cars that are driving around, we probably have a slightly better ground clearance that most of them, but yes, Abuja being the city with good road conditions would probably be more acceptable," said Wagner.

At an event to celebrate Porsche's Carrera 911 launch in Lagos, Nigeria's wealthy swigged martinis and shared statistics on the abilities of some of the world's finest vehicles.

Nigeria's oil wealth has made multi-millionaires of a few in the past few decades, while most Nigerians have slipped deeper into poverty. Absolute poverty rose to 60.9 percent in 2010, official figures showed last month.

But for the successful and wealthy Nigerian upper class, owning some of these toys is a priority and the Porsche models are already flying off the import deck.

"The 911 is the perfect car for you to drive around like a civilised man on the streets following... obeying all traffic rules because obviously all Porsche drivers always obey traffic rules and they have respect for pedestrians, so you drive around in a very civilised manner on the street, take your car to the race track and become a beast and go wild as you want in the same car," said 35 year-old Emmanuel Ngala, an IT consultant who has ordered for a new Carrera 911.

Average prices for new Porsche models currently range between 21 million Nigerian naira ($133,000) to 30 million Nigerian naira ($190,000).