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The Nigerian Customer

When it comes to setting up a business, it is simple knowledge to know that before launching, one must understand its target customer. From their preferences, to their personality, what do they appreciate and what is it about you that will attract them to you? Do our restaurants think about this before opening or do they take this advice for granted?

The Different Segments

I must admit, to the naked eye, it doesn't seem like we have very strong segments when it comes to the Nigerian customer. Without thought you may simply just think of foreigners vs locals or expensive vs affordable. But this is not the case at all. In my opinion, restaurants rush this process of identifying their target audience and therefore try to open a restaurant that "caters to all" with over extensive menus and a place lacking personality that ends up being market-less. So let's identify some key customers.


Let's start with the simple category. Many Nigerians fit into this category as we are a nation that appreciates a value meal. The value chaser doesn't necessarily ask for the best but appreciates a decent meal at an affordable price. They do not necessarily care for the extras like ambience or presentation but customer service is still very much respected. Restaurants that target this customer successfully will ensure that their meals stay consistent and that their prices remain accessible. Sometimes they strike gold and are recognised for providing the best of a dish in their category. Value-led restaurants are also the first to franchise out, with multiple locations due to perfecting consistency and accessibility at low costs.

Chicken Republic and Olaiya are in this leaders in this category, offering delicious food for all as well as more refined yet affordable restaurants like La Taverna.



This customer knows what they like at sticks to it. They are rooted with dishes they may have grown up with and don't necessarily experiment. Sometimes these can be the hardest customers to get because they rather make it how they like it at home! When you are working with less ingredients and less busy dishes, it really comes down to technique and consistency which many restaurants don't realise. Restaurants that target this customers have a very strong brand DNA and their menu is coherent and linear.

Restaurants like RSVP and Z Kitchen understand their simplistic yet signature offering and are thus in this category.


Where the real "foodies" find themselves. The adventurous foodie has a real passion for exploring restaurants with unique dishes, flavour pairings and worldly inspirations. This customer is usually a traveller and has tried dishes from different places both locally and internationally. Restaurants that successfully target this customer tend to have a niche and focus on that. They understand that they might not be for everyone but this is what exactly locks in this target market.

Ona and Nok by Alara have created a valuable niche clientele that love to explore their menu.

The Burgundy by Chef Stone


Whether it is a never seen before restaurant theme, a table-side show, or a steak presentation, experiences are becoming the latest trend in Lagos. Customers in this category want to leave their homes to experience something they cannot at home. Although food is very important to this customer, they do value a holistic experience overall. They appreciate detail oriented restaurants that provide out of the world customer service and out of the box creativity.

The Burgundy by Chef Stone sits here with seasonal menus and holistic service experiences.

Although it is hard to think of other restaurants that successfully do this well in Nigeria, there are many private chefs that provide such experiences to their clientele such as Beezus Kitchen and Atije Experience.


The few in this category are growing! These customers may come from other countries or be Nigerians who lived abroad, but they are a growing database of customers that we cannot ignore. Many customers in this region are eager to get sophisticated experiences in their home. They are tired of travelling to experience true fine dining and often depend on the likes of private chefs to satisfy them at the comfort of their homes. Although this market is small, the revenue here has much potential and with the right restauranteurs, they will satisfy this need and bring cash rich clientele back to this country. Restaurants who attract this category tend to be chef owned due to the amount of intricacy and investment needed in the kitchen. It is a painstaking option to take as not many Nigerians are ready for true fine dining but the industry leaders here are definitely going to be remembered for taking the risk.

Itan Test Kitchen is the chief in this category providing refined and Michelin level approaches to Nigerian dishes.



Nigeria is filled with glamour and many people whether coming from new or old money look to be in the spaces that embody exclusivity and luxury. Many Nigerians who enjoy the glamorous life love to eat out in restaurants that are ostentatious with price not being the focus. The more ridiculous the price, the more attractive. Restaurants attracting such customers follow a simple strategy; Stay exclusive yet attract the masses. Everybody wants to be a part of the brand due to who is associated with them, yet only the elite are able to access.

In my opinion the restaurants in Nigeria aiming to reach this customers haven't quite understood this approach.

They are still a little greedy and are trying to have it all. Yet to have it all you have to be strict in capacity, quality and professionalism.

Examples of restaurants seeking these customers are Slice and Zaza.

Is the Nigerian Customer Understood?

When it comes to setting up a business, it is simple knowledge to know that before launching, one must understand its target customer. From their preferences, to their personality, what do they appreciate and what is it about you that will attract them to you? Do our restaurants think about this before opening or do they take this advice for granted?? Successful local bukas aim to serve good food. Good food doesn't start for the privileged. It is a right for all. So it becomes infuriating when a restaurant will market itself as "fine dining" or "gourmet" without targeting and providing for customers who demand fine dining and gourmet dishes. From the above we can see that every restaurant type should have a target customer. It is simple Branding 101.

I believe that we have unfortunately come to under-estimate Nigerian customers. Is this due to customers not demanding excellence or does the responsibility lie in restauranteurs? It comes to the Chicken and the Egg theory.. who must demand change first? When you look out of Nigeria, no matter the level the restaurant sits in, be it your local corner restaurant or a fine dining restaurant, the aim is to provide the best possible at the level it offers. We must take this approach here. Far too easily, new places open with food and offering being the after-thought. They think if they have pasta or peppered chicken on the menu that is enough for the Nigerian customer. Or they think, most customers may not notice that an item is missing or that we didn't really try to execute a perfect dish.

Now no one is saying pasta or peppered chicken is wrong. But do you genuinely believe you are offering the best pasta or the best peppered chicken in the market? What is the reason for your menu selection? Did you go through menu refinement and training with the team? What is the reason for your ambience and theme? How does your staff speak with your customers? How do you want your customers to feel when they walk away? All the categories above, every customer no matter the type will still want to enjoy the dishes they are paying for. So I say this to every restaurant out there in Nigeria, if you do not put time, money and effort into your kitchen, please be a bar. If you wish to but do not know how to go about it, hire a competent consultant.

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