OPINION : The value of an everyday Rwandan consumer culture

It’s easy for me to get overly obsessed with what makes for either good or bad advertising. The best advertising campaigns use nuances of everyday life, society, and culture. Every marketing giant makes sure they connect their product stories to societal attitudes and behaviors to purposely tap into our emotions.

It’s easy for me to get overly obsessed with what makes for either good or bad advertising. The best advertising campaigns use nuances of everyday life, society, and culture.

Every marketing giant makes sure they connect their product stories to societal attitudes and behaviors to purposely tap into our emotions.

It’s that very connection that creates what the advertising industry refers to as consumer culture. A culture that is permeated by consumerism can be referred to as a consumer culture or market culture.

In Rwanda, we have not clearly defined what our consumer culture is. Or, is it that we don’t want to admit that one even exists? Or, is it that we don’t know how to make sense of it?

Do most of us even recognize how the potential profitability of more consumerism in Rwanda can lead to an even more valuable popular mainstream culture that could ultimately be marketed beyond our national borders?

Dare we even imagine that a handful of leading Rwandan brands can turn into a universal expression of the country?

When we think of the United States – we think McDonalds, Nike, IBM, CocaCola. We think big brands.

Now think about Rwanda…What comes to mind? Why is that we always associate Gorillas with everything Rwanda? I’m sure there are many other things that remind you of Rwanda. How come we don’t associate our everyday experiences with marketing Rwanda?

One thing is for sure, that Rwanda’s every day beauty should be marketed to ourselves and to the rest of the world. Have you checked out the craftsmanship of the furniture being built in the large timber shed in Gisozi?

And sure we know that brochette and chips are not stereotypical African cuisine – but I’m sure that we each have our own favorite spots to find them. African Tea served right at Serena Hotel can make your day.

Hands down – it’s the best in town! The excitement of hoping onto a motto for less than one thousand Rwandese francs to cruise around town is priceless.

Seeing seven bridal parties race across the street to take a life changing photo in front of the statue on the MTN roundabout never ceases to catch my attention.

Say what you will, but this list of everyday cultural beauty could go on forever just as those ‘Roundabout Brides’ are forever to be a part of our popular culture.

Who knows? They might just be the perfect part of Rwanda’s mainstream culture to market a highly driven consumer culture for flowers, perfumes, lotions, cameras, and even cars.

Imagine if people came from all around the world to Rwanda just to see the brides at the MTN roundabout because of some amazingly well done advertising campaign that touched consumers on a universal level?

What if we figured out a way to then make the world pay attention to and appreciate the Gusaba ceremony as much as visitors look forward to attending the national gorilla naming ceremony? Now that would be classic consumer culture – Rwandan style.

Contact:kezaabu@gmail.com

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