The business landscape in Rwanda is changing each day and the customers are developing ear to ear smiles as the days go by. 10 years back, the business setup in this country was nothing short of dull and boring.
This was occasioned by the relatively small number of business establishments many of which were essentially monopolies.
They cared less about what the customers thought or felt since they really had no option but to be customers. Things like customer care were more or less luxuries. It was a take-it-or-leave-it situation that customers painfully and silently bore.
The big names like MTN, BRALIRWA, SONARWA, Banque Populaire among others faced no real threats. This situation also left a dark cloud on the advertising sector as monopolies saw no reason they should ‘waste’ money in things like brand promotion and marketing of new products or services.
In those days it was common to find a billboard for a company like BRALIRWA staying put for more than a year. Such billboards were often paintings and not canvas so as to ensure longevity. Some stayed for ages and became names of places. I guess you have all heard of the place in Remera aptly named “Ku kya Mutzig” in reference to the Mutzig bottle imitation by the roadside.
Promotional advertising campaigns happened once a year or not at all, during the monopoly days. Those that bothered to promote anything often released formal statements devoid of an excitement. Radio adverts often carried a boring monotone that made them sound more like announcements than adverts.
It is now 2011 and MTN has a worthy rival in Tigo while BRALIRWA is feeling the heat from Skol beer and East African Breweries. The insurance sector has also seen competition on the rise. The same has happened to the banking sector with the entry of KCB, FINA Bank and Ecobank among others. The business landscape is now a vibrant one and dull companies are bound to lose out.
This has consequently ignited a few things with customer care service departments becoming necessities. It is now common to see companies responding to client complaints in the media especially the letters page in newspapers.
Advertising budgets are now a must have if one is to survive in the cut-throat competition. The lifespan of billboards has shortened with colourful ones coming up every now and then.
For banks, telecoms and the beverage companies, promotions are now so many with a new one launched as soon as the current one expires. Each new product introduced on the market is followed by a grand promotional campaign.
Creative media companies and advertising firms are laughing all the way to the banks as marketing managers worry about brand identity and dominance. Tigo won the hearts of many through its colourful adverts and thoughtful campaigns. Now MTN has also pulled one back with its recent adverts that have been praised by many.
It pays to talk to a few experts on how to go about this advertising phenomenon. Slowly by slowly, the competition is compelling companies to attend to the customers more and more.