EDITORIAL: Better marketing for local products should be the next frontier

Kigali has been on its feet for some time now trying to cope with the continued traffic of people from all corners of the world who have adopted the city as their meetings destination of choice. And the traffic has been very heavy.

Kigali has been on its feet for some time now trying to cope with the continued traffic of people from all corners of the world who have adopted the city as their meetings destination of choice. And the traffic has been very heavy.

Kigali has taken the African Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions (MICE) fraternity by storm; it is the new poster child for international conferences. Its rise has been so meteoric that it has eclipsed more established destinations and is now the third on the continent, coming close on the heels of Cape Town (South Africa) and Marrakech in Morocco.

The journey has not been an easy one and sustaining the gains will need even more efforts. The beginning point is making sure that business owners not just put on their best customer care display as possible, but should also take the opportunity to promote Rwandan products.

The Made-in-Rwanda Expo, currently taking place in Kigali, is the window of opportunity. Business owners know best what their never-ending stream of foreign customers want and should therefore partner with manufacturers and exhibitors at the expo to bring out the best of their products.

There is the widespread myth that foreign manufactured goods – even foodstuff – are better than domestic products, which in many cases the opposite is true. The differences most of the time is name recognition, branding and heavy marketing which local producers lack.

That is where established business owners come in with their expertise in knowing the needs of their foreign customers and how best to package it. It is very embarrassing when someone who has just arrived in the county inquires of particular local products only to find a clueless Rwandan who should have known better.

Those are situations that can be avoided if Rwandans were encouraged to visit local expos and learn more about what is on offer to better help market the country and what it has to offer.

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