Judging by the trend and pace of the EAC integration, Rwandan companies have no choice but to embrace the ‘bigger picture’ concept in order to survive in the new trading bloc.
A good number of the local companies have strong products only that most of them lack one thing.Marketing.
It appears that marketing in Rwanda is not among the central pillars of corporate boardroom politics.
I will present casual observations. Rwandan tea is recognized as one of the best teas in Africa.
However Rwanda Tea Development Authority is yet to embark on a real aspect of value addition which policy makers talk about within the overall Rwandan tea development strategy.
Value addition is nothing other than marketing. When Rwandan Tea will be branded I think it will fetch more in the international market. I will reinforce my thinking by pointing out what one guy within the agricultural sector has done that stands out.
Arthur Karuretwa of Bourbon coffee is the only business leader to have ascribed to the dictates of value addition. He has managed to build a brand from scratch partly by utilizing the power of marketing. In the process he now has a unique and truly local brand.
Sina Gerard ought to borrow a leaf from Karuretwa’s marketing strategy. When you look at the array of fantastic products Sina has the only thing missing is marketing.
‘Akabanga’ that pepper from Sina is a perfect example. I am a fan but the product reminds me of eye drops from the pharmacies due to its poor packaging.
Sina needs a serious product labeling specialist and by extension a brand development person to take his company to the next level.
Otherwise, a company like Unilever, the Kenyan multinational, will obliterate Sina’s presence in due course.
Within telecoms, I have said earlier that MTN has not shown any form of aggressive local brand leadership. By that I mean that MTN has really underestimated the potential of Rwandan telecoms market.
That is why they have only managed 1 million subscribers within ten years of their existence.
With the kind of excitement that telecoms in East Africa create, we cannot in any way compare MTN with any of the regional operators. The ‘Fata’ Cash is one such example. It has been a low key affair much to the dismay of many.
MTN should have kept its clientele on the edge of their seats every day by throwing back to them millions and millions daily and in the process making more millions and millions during the length of the campaign.
Lastly Bralirwa. The 50 year anniversary ought to have been used to excite Primus drinkers to the high heavens. Bringing JP Mpiana or Blu-Three and stuff like will not mean much to a Primus die hard drinker in say Byumba or Bugesera or Karongi.
So the end result is that the milestone event will fizzle out without Bralirwa raking in billions of francs just because of ineffective marketing.