Cowrywise splurges millions on billboard ads to win market share

Cowrywise splurges millions on billboard ads to win market share
Cowrywise splurges millions on billboard ads to win market share

Story Highlights

  • Nigerian fintech, Cowrywise, recently dominated discussions on social media over its large billboards dotting strategic places in Lagos.
  • While the company has kept quiet about its unusual marketing push, experts say the goal might be to create more awareness about its brand and win more market share.
  • However, Cowrywise is not the first Nigerian fintech to tread this path even as the impact of the huge spending on marketing by some startups remains unclear.

One of Nigeria’s savings and investment companies, Cowrywise, is banking on many billboard ads to attract more customers as the competition in the fintech landscape gets stiffer.

In an unusual marketing strategy for a Nigerian fintech, the company’s giant billboards now adorn strategic places in Lagos. Apparently to generate curiosity, especially, for those who do not know about the brand, the company only displays its URLs on the billboards.

While this has raised debates on social media platforms, especially on X formerly known as Twitter, marketing experts said the aim is to drive traffic to the company’s website and win new customers.

What’s in the offing?

Cowrywise last raised funds in January 2021 when it secured $3 million in a pre-Series A round led by Quona Capital. At that time, the company said the funding would enable it to “expand our product offerings, build out our nascent investment management infrastructure, onboard more fund managers in Nigeria, broaden our financial education program, and continue to hire top talent.”

The company added that it had 220,000 registered users as of 2021 and aimed to have 10 million registered users by 2025.

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While the recent aggressive marketing push could suggest that the company may have secured fresh funding, planning or just positioning itself to win more share of the market, the company’s CEO, Razak Ahmed is not willing to speak about it. Ahmed did not respond to multiple requests for comments on the matter.

However, the company’s Brand Designer, Obasola Akintola, in a blog post suggested that the billboards were aimed at driving traffic to the Cowrywise website.

“I had the privilege of contributing to Cowrywise’s very first billboard campaign, “Future Self.” This collaborative effort focused on encouraging long-term financial planning by prompting viewers to consider the message their future selves might send back in time.

Witnessing the final product generate significant website traffic and app downloads was an incredibly rewarding experience. The second idea had us weak in the knees. We needed a simple copy and had the most difficult time settling for any of the ideas we came up with. It took 6 adults almost 4 weeks to finally agree on one idea.

“Just a single line took ‘years’ which reinforces the idea that the simplest copy is the hardest to find and you shouldn’t settle for your first idea, there’s so much beauty in striving for the best. It was even more rewarding seeing us trending on X (formerly Twitter) from the billboard we put up,” he wrote.

What experts are saying

Beyond the motivation of Cowrywise to spend millions of naira on outdoor ads, marketing experts have been expressing different opinions on the company’s decision to plaster only its URLs on the big boards without any call to action (CTA).

However, speaking with Nairametrics on the matter, the Founder and CEO of SalesUltimo, a digital marketing company, Mr. Muritala Bello, said the company might just want to create awareness about its brand, hence the URL billboards. According to him, such ad, while it is mostly suitable for established brands, would help Cowrywise gain brand visibility and drive traffic to its website.

He, however, noted that the company may also have a different target for spending so much on billboard ads.

“Billboard ads are not cheap. For a fintech to have embarked on this kind of marketing, they must have had a bigger plan that requires them to draw people’s attention first before launching out,” he said.

Brand and Marketing Strategist, Mr. Emmanuel Dennis, said the Cowrywise billboard ad speaks to the brand’s desire to spark people’s interest in its business.

“Curiosity is a powerful motivator, and in this case, the billboard could pique someone’s curiosity and encourage them to learn more. Even if they don’t know what Cowrywise is, the URL alone might be enough to get them interested in finding out more. Through this, the company could acquire new customers,” he said.

Cowrywise’s aggressive strategy to win the market may be different but not new in the Nigerian fintech space, where fintech startups had in the past adopted more audacious strategies to draw attention. Not too long ago, fintechs like Paystack, Quidax, Piggyvest, Flutterwave, and most recently, Moniepoint, had been the headline sponsors of the Multichoice Reality TV Show, Big Brother Naija, where they spent billions of Naira to grace the screens of Nigerians watching the show for three months. In 2023 MoniePoint was the headline sponsor for season 8 of the show.

Like Cowrywiselike’s current campaign, Piggyvest had also leveraged billboard ads to market its brand. However, the impacts of these marketing spending sprees on the fintechs are still debatable.

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