In this Gen Z / Millennial era, typical Nigerian hairstyles have gone beyond mainstream Braids, Cornrows, Buns, and the likes. They have undergone a rebirth, something which seems to never hop out of the trend cycle. Braids have metamorphosed to Jungle Braids, Cornrows has metamorphosed into stitch braids, Buns has metamorphosed into ponytail which can be detached when need be.
There are several hair brands in the Nigerian hair market, but so far, it appears that the battle for the market dominance is really down to two brands. X-pression and Lush Hair Nigeria are stepping all over competitors’ necks with varied strategies to remain on top of the market. Here is how the battle is going so far.
Price and varieties
X-pression has its range of products i.e. Exotic braid, 8x Multi Stretched, Classic Locs, Rich Braid, etc and many of its products have been around for a while, but tweaked over time with new colors and styles. Lush Hair never seems to run out of ideas regarding naming its products i.e. Mandy curls, Wow braids, Reinah twist, Kinky Royale, Serene locs, Jumbo braids, Nini Fro, Fiona Kids, Nora Curls, Sasha Locs and many more.
When it comes to price, Xpression appears to be more affordable. Its price ranges from N1800 up to the range of N50,000 for hair extensions. However, they do not have already made wigs in their collections. They stopped at hair extensions.
Lush Hair features a range of luxury hair extensions and wig products. There are products as low as N2,000 and products running as high as N300,000. There are products to cater to customer preference and financial abilities; especially now that Hair wigs appear to be getting more popular among the busy working-class Gen Zs and Millenials.
Product value and customer reviews
X-pression provides a tangle-free hair experience, it is neat and setswell with hot water dipping, while Lush Hair has a high market value as it’s fun to use, creative enough and beats mainstream hair fashion.
Xpression has amazing feedback like clear labeling, realistic look, nice texture and features, friendly price, and tangle free nature. For Lush, its appeal is its flashiness and the promise of dazzling beauty. Users who love loud colors and bold hairdos regularly prefer to patronize Lush Hair. Pink hair color is not something you would find with Xpression, but Lush thrives on such bold colors. Lush’s style inspiration, social friendliness, giveaways, influencer marketing also seem to be doing wonders for them.
Lush Hair has been in the market since 1995, and X-pression since 1997. But Xpression clearly made a name for itself in the market much earlier and still dominates the shelf of every traditional hairdresser. Although you still get to find some Lush Hair products for reasons like choice and price.
Brand Style & focus
X-pression has stuck to its style of using pretty models to show off hair possibilities with its different products, while Lush Hair has gone far to sign Yemi Alade as Brand Ambassador, and uses faces of popular influencers like Denrele Edun, Nelson Nonso, Diana Eneje, Amanda Dara (Winning Afro Artist), Oluwadamilola Bolarinde (2021 MBGN).
X-pression recently introducing a friendly Mascot, Kuji, into its marketing campaigns. Kuji is going on road shows and campus tours for meet-and-hug with Nigerians. This makes for a very interesting and engaging campaign in the market. Xpression also introduced pop ups and introducing a new feature called Hidden Tag to help users identify fake, in response to the fake products that was threatening its reputation and revenue.
Marketing style and Promotions
In the aspect of promotions and sponsorships, Lush does seem to be having a field day. Lush has campaigns running and is injecting a lot into sponsoring programs and shows that are popular with the Millenials and Gen Zs. They have recently announced again that they will be one of the sponsors of the BigBrotherNaija 2022, once again. Several programmes streaming on the DSTv and GOTv platforms also end with the line “this program is brought to you by Lush hair”. This appears to be a marketing strategy in itself, targeting the population that make up the bulk of their market.
X-pression seems to be more focused on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSRs) and has not shown as much vigor in its marketing activities. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they donated 2000 pcs of face masks to LASEPA (Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency) to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Lush Hair sponsored Lagos Fashion Week, 15th Headies Mic Check, Delta Music Comedy and Fashion Expo, Participating in the Runway show during AMVCA, exhibition at the International Beauty Show Las Vegas, Lush Little Belle Contest, Lushed at Work (pop up activity at different professions and making their hair for free), Lush Hair Academy, Lush Pink Cupid (Free Hair Dos and goodies on Valentine’s day) etc.
In terms of marketing, one may say that Xpression is focused on activities that are targeted to drive its numbers upward, not just general branding activities. This could be because they know that their name is already out there in the market. The road shows and campus tours seem to be the style they have been doing more of recently.
Lush Hair seems to be targeting the Gen Z as they have successfully established a presence on the various social media with a plethora of youthful activities, hair style inspirations, games, trends and challenges they have running on their accounts. X-pression is doing its part to ensure they don’t run away with the market, and is putting up a very solid resistance. .
For instance, X-pression Nigeria has 4.5k followers on its official Twitter handle, whereas Lush Hair has about 1.8k followers. On instagram where most of the buzz activities around fashion and style are happening, X-pression has 26.5k with about 800 posts and tags like #xp4you #XpressionHair etc, while Lush hair has 61.3k followers with over 1000 posts and hashtags like #LushWomenCan, #LushHair and #BeBeautiful etc.
What we can learn from both brands
Being in business for decades does not guarantee market dominance, but the ability to evolve with the market. Both brands are over two decades old, and yet are actively trying to keep pace with the market. Lush Hair even considered a rebrand in 2020, which turned out to be a good decision as they were awarded best hair brand of the year in September 2021.
Xpresssion has had to deal with several challenges in regards to import of its raw materials and exportation of its finished products. There was also the issue of fake products in the Nigerian market, and a drop of sales to the western market. In spite of these, the brand kept up the spirit, tweaking its marketing strategy in line with its new realities.
There are many lessons here for today’s entrepreneurs.