BY MARY KIMONYE
In the last 30 years, world merchandise and commercial services trade have increased by about 7 percent per year on average, reaching a peak of US$18 trillion and US$ 4 trillion respectively in 2011, as stated in the 2013 World Economic report.
In addition, the World Trade Organization reports that world trade is expected to grow by 4.7pc in 2014 and at a slightly faster rate of 5.3pc in 2015. The growth in international trade has resulted in multinational companies and nations as well, competing for consumers.
Furthermore, globalization gives the chance to nations to distribute their products all over the world, and presents the opportunity for consumers to choose between different types of products.
Factors that have had impact on this growth include brand name, the perception of a country and Country of Origin. The Country Of Origin (COO) is a key factor in the globalized competitive market. Consumers care about which country products come from and where they are made and consider these factors when evaluating the quality of products.
Country Of Origin is also labeled as “country of manufacture”; “country of assembly” and “country of design”. Country Of Origin plays a very important role in competitive markets and consumer behaviour.
Consumers have always made strong associations between brands and particular countries, especially by category – for example, Italy for design, France for fashion or the USA for entertainment. World over, Kenya has won international acclaim for consistent high quality products and services.
Kenya is the world’s largest producer and leading exporter of black tea. It is also ranked among the largest coffee producers in the world. Kenya is one of the largest suppliers of cut flowers to the European Union with a 31 percent market share. According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the country’s cut flowers, fruits and vegetables annual exports stood at 924 million US dollars in 2014.
However, there is no distinct differentiator of the Kenyan products either locally or internationally. To enhance the competitiveness of the country’s products and services, Brand Kenya Board has developed a Mark of Identity with the buy line “A Touch of Kenya”. This mark will distinguish Kenyan goods and services locally and internationally.
The Mark tells Kenya’s story; it brings alive the role of the Kenya brand in the production of goods and in the delivery of quality services. It also emphasizes, that Kenyan goods and services are specially, crafted and made with a generous dose of warmth, love and care. It’s an invitation to experience more of Kenya and is drawn from the Brand Proposition “Kenya, bursting with generosity, rewarding beyond imagination”.
The mark gives Kenyan goods and services a unique identity that distinguishes them from the rest. It seeks to position Kenyan products as premium products in the local and international markets. This will lead to increased competitiveness of Kenyan products and services and stimulate demand for Kenyan products locally and internationally. The mark is a symbol of exporters who have reached high standards of excellence.
Australia is reaping benefits from the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo (AMAG) which was introduced in 1986 by the Australian Government. Australian manufacturers and growers use the power of the logo to leverage consumers’ preference for Australian products and to connect with consumers who are actively looking for, and willing to pay a premium for, these products.
Country of origin is therefore a powerful brand ingredient that can be used to gain competitive advantage in international marketing. To remain competitive many nations have branded their products with a COO mark. By joining other nations Kenya will be claiming a place in the global market.
The more a brand is associated with a Country Of Origin that has unique products, a differentiated message, genuine expertise in the category and the high quality standards, the more likely it is that a consumer will consider it. When local manufacturers’ and exporters adopt the Mark, the Kenya brand can expect to enjoy better awareness and reputation, command a higher price premium and outdo competitors with a less complete Country of Origin story.
(Mary Kimonye, MBS is the Chief Executive Officer of Brand Kenya Board)