Windhoek — Ultimately, Namibian consumers must approve locally manufactured products in order to support local manufacturing on a constant basis.
According to Team Namibia, which is tasked with promoting local products, consumers tend to prefer established brands currently on the market. "If local products are not being promoted through campaigns and/or visual/printed media, consumers tend to distrust these products and will keep on buying imported goods that have been on the shelves for years," said Lizette Foot, Team Namibia's General Manager.
"Inevitably retailers provide the link between consumers and Namibian products and services. Supermarkets, in particular, provide the platform for consumers to make Namibian products part of their daily lifestyle," says Team Namibia's Chairman, Tarah Shaanika.
Shaanika advised retailers to clearly highlight Namibian products and make them easily identifiable to consumers in their advertising materials.
He re-iterated that Team Namibia members share the common purpose of economic sustainability and should therefore enable consumers to make informed decisions about which products are Namibian. Supermarkets that are members of Team Namibia include Pick n Pay Namibia, Spar Namibia and Woermann Brock. According to Gilbert Botha, Retail Marketing Manager, at Pick n Pay Namibia: "Local goods are being received well by Pick n Pay, as we believe in supporting local," while Johan Mostert, Regional Buyer for Spar Namibia says: "In general, locally manufactured products are received very well, given the consumer approved of the products' quality and to a lesser extent, pricing, although the pricing issue is very sensitive to the lower market segments."
Konrad Schwieger, Marketing Manager at Woermann Brock says any Namibian business is welcome and he hopes that local manufacturers will step up to be in line with internationally accepted standards. "This will certainly result in success. Quite a number of Namibian products are on our shelves and sell well - if you look closely you will notice that these products are manufactured to high standards and marketed aggressively."
In total, 214 organisations are Team Namibia members. Pick n Pay's Botha however said he is concerned about the availability locally manufactured products.
Spar Namibia's Mostert concurred that some concerns about locally manufactured goods are "quality, sustainability and distribution." Meanwhile, Woermann Brock's Schwieger says his main concerns are standards and marketing issues.
Responding to New Era's questions on the quality of Namibian products, Ronnie Varkevisser, Chief Executive Officer of the Namibian Manufacturers Association, said the quality of Namibian products is very good compared to imported products. "It is time that the perception of inferior quality of Namibian products is changed. As an example, if you look at the fishing industry, the commercial specifications (ComSpec) of locally produced canned fish is the same as that applied by the South African authorities and the fishing industry in South Africa. It is actually a higher specification as simply being fit for human consumption, which is apparently the only required specification for canned fish imported from outside SADC. So from that point of view, our product actually exceeds the required quality standards," commented Varkevisser.
Team Namibia, as the custodian of locally manufactured goods, is currently in the process of developing a long-term strategy to gain a sustainable competitive advantage for Namibian products and services.
Team Namibia's General Manager, Lizette Foot said: "We need to define Team Namibia's purpose specifically in terms of creating a sustainable impact on Namibia's economy, in relation to government's Vision 2030, and taking into account the interdependencies between consumers, manufacturers, service providers and retailers."
To that end, Team Namibia is embarking on a market analysis and stakeholder perception survey to clearly identify its role in relation to government's Vision 2030, looking at barriers to convincing Namibians to buy Namibian products and services on a rational and emotional level, garnering support for listings of Namibian products in local retailers and meeting competitive standards through the manufacturing, service provider and SME sectors.
The research will be conducted by Q&A Consulting Services. Daleen Hugo-Small, Managing Director of Q&A Consulting Services commented: "As a result of rapid globalisation, the competitive landscape in Namibia is changing on a daily basis. Consumers are bombarded with a variety of choices and therefore they buy the products that appeal the most to their needs on an emotional and rational level (albeit price, product quality, package design, ingredients etc.). Therefore, we are looking to identify these factors that will help steer Team Namibia's strategy for a collaborative and sustainable national campaign that will result in more support for local purchases in Namibia."
The survey will be conducted across the full value chain, including non-members (retailers, manufacturers and producers), Team Namibia members, as well as consumers via qualitative and quantitative interviews across 11 regions, and eight in-depth focus group discussions in the main metropolitan areas.