Where Are You From?

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Where are you from? It’s a question we all ask when we meet someone new. Increasingly consumers are asking this question of brands and products too. In the West people not only want to buy British or American, they want to buy from Yorkshire or Texas.

For some products where they come from has always been important, if you want to buy leathered goods it has to come from Italy, if you want to buy a cricket bat the willow has to be English, if you want a reliable car it has to be Japanese, if you want something cheap and affordable it will have “Made in China” stamped on it.

However sometimes consumers don’t have a choice as some products have a protected designation of origin, for example Champagne can only come from Champagne in France, Feta cheese can only be made in Greece, Jersey Royal potatoes can only be grown in… you guessed it Jersey.

Consumers, ever more conscious of the environment, also want this information to try and work out the carbon footprint of a certain item so they can make an informed choice.

Marketers even play on sentiments, stereotypes and associations of where their product or company is from or try to create one like this Fox’s biscuits ad:

As a generalisation in Pakistan however the trend seems to be almost opposite. People don’t want to know about Pakistani products and prefer to spend their income on foreign goods. This is down to a number of factors firstly quality. The start to every successful business is meeting customer needs, if the consumer needs a high quality product that’s what you make if there’s a niche to produce low quality products for a low price that’s what you give them. You can’t expect to charge higher prices for an inferior product.

The second major factor is trust. The only way to build trust in any product or company is through communicating with the customer and building a brand identity.

However this doesn’t mean to say that some Pakistani businesses aren’t doing this already. When I’m in Jhelum I don’t want to go to the over priced KFC for mediocre food I want to go to Food Palace (Railway Road), where I get friendly service, food that really is finger lickin’ good and I don’t have to shell out as much.

Asif is a Marketing Manager in the UK. His expertise and interests lie in Strategic Marketing, Marketing Communications, PR, Private and Public Sector Marketing, Online and Social Media Marketing. You can visit his website at www.asifafzal.com

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/babarjaved Babar Javed

    Another fantastic reason not to eat at “International” fast food chains located in Pakistan, is the persistent failure to deliver on the quality experienced abroad. I know for a fact that the smallest Domino’s branch in Bangladesh has a landslide more new and repeat customers than the largest Pizza hut in Karachi could ever dream of.

    I’ve heard my fair share of complaints from foreigners at product launches and conferences to know we don’t live up to a certain quality.

    The reluctance to create what matters aside from glam and sparkle has been the downfall of this economy and the country’s brand name.

  • Ben Lawrence

    dOnt be such a buZZkill, slopppy dining has all the timing

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/babarjaved Babar Javed

    the heavy concentration of intellect in your message has given me a seizure

  • Moazzam Kamran

    Dear Asif

    Well I read your article and I loved it. It made me realise something that I had observed so much on my trips abroad but didnt notice that well.
    I have also observed this pattern a lot on BBC lifestyles; there the chefs go to their villages to by fresh organic veg and cheese.
    an observation I would like to make is that this is due extensively to Positive word of mouth and excellent quality and service.
    I think we have some of ther elements here but we lack a proper mix of it we may have Good quality but sometimes we miss out on servce, we may have excellent service but we miss out on capturing our target audience. I think what is needed here is marketeers really focus on building a proper Pakistani brand one which has the right marketing mix

  • Moazzam Kamran

    another thing I seem to miss out is first we have to look internally. Build consumer confidence on our product here and then focus on the big jump of becoming and international brand we have some excellent brands here and I hope we will make the leap soon 🙂

  • http://www.asifafzal.com Asif

    Moazzam I agree whole heartedly with you. One of the major concerns I have is the Governments over encouragement of foreign investment and not enough focus on local enterprise and growth. Or even encouragement of partnership working between Pakistani and foreign firms.

    Yes inward investment creates jobs, gives the consumer choice but at the end of the day where are the financial rewards going? Back to the firms home country.

    So Pakistani firms need to up their games and look to enter new markets. As you said firstly the need to look internally and be able to compete in Pakistan.

  • Moazzam Kamran

    well we have a lot of strong brands here in Pakistan Good local brands one brand I work for is Dawlance which has been doing its part. dont get me wrong im not pushing my company here im pretty sure no one from Dawlance even reads articles here but since i do brand tracking exercises and lots of other consumer based activites for them I know that there is a lot of trust on the brand here. I just wish that the management sees that and plans to make it mark abroad 🙂