On December 16th, 2011 an initiative has started for a “Buy Egyptian Campaign” in effort to support the ailing Egyptian Economy in 2011. There is no doubt that this initiative is derived from good values and high sense of patriotism towards Egypt. The consumer’s market in majority supported the initiative, a minority stated that return of such initiative does not help the Egyptian economy and only helps the capitalists, and another minority did not know what Egyptian products existed in the first place to buy them. Was this campaign a positive campaign for the Egyptian Economy, Egyptian product, and Egyptian organizations or did it have a negative impact? The message delivered to me as a customer was “Buy an Egyptian product as an act of charity or patriotism and not do to any value added or created through purchase of this product.” A lot of companies used an incentive of discount to attract customers, some as Azza Fahmy, and might I add smartly indicated a percentage of sales would go to charity. My point is a bit different though, even if this initiative would truly elevate the slump in the Egyptian Economy for the entire month of December, would it have any effect after that? If any effect, after one month of launching the initiative, would it be a positive or negative effect?
The point I am trying to make is the effect even if positive on the short term, has a higher negative effect on the consumer’s perspective of the Egyptian made product or service. It is not a product or service that is their first choice, fulfilling or creating a need they have. The purchasing decision is an act, by which the consumer shows their patriotism towards Egypt. Is that how you want your product or service to be perceived? The question to be asked is what kind of perception or validation does this campaign create in the eyes of the consumer? The problem here is not in the consumer as they have purchasing power and they can simply make a different decision. If your organization desires a true change they need to ask WHY does this perception exist for an Egyptian made product or service and how can it be changed?
A lot of executives, entrepreneurs, and maybe even economists could state let us be realistic we need any push to the Egyptian Economy. My response to them is you are right, but without vision people perish, and without a clear vision for your organization as a contributing agent to the Egyptian economy your product and service will perish. To eliminate the already existing negative perception of Egyptian made products or services, a lot of counter initiatives are required. Is this Buy Egyptian campaign a counter initiative? Changes the perception or bolsters an already existing negative perception? Counter initiatives require the following characteristics:
1- Value Creation and or addition to the consumer in areas of quality, innovation, and need fulfillment.
2- Differentiation of the service/product being delivered
3- Negative Perception confrontation
For an organization to have the ability to change the negative perception, this requires Egyptian organizations to have a clear vision and strategy on how to create value to their customer, deliver that value in a qualitative manner, and capture that value efficiently. Organizations need to change from within, prior to changing the consumer’s perspective.
How do you currently perceive an Egyptian product or service? Does your organization have a problem in competing with international made products? Did you or your organization support this campaign, and what type of impact did it have?
Can Innovation be the answer?