Home-grown Qatari produce has proven a popular addition to our supermarket shelves. But how can local producers compete long-term in a global economy? Ramzan Rashid Al Naimi has the answer.
Many of us have noticed an increasing choice of Qatar-made and Qatar-grown products in our shops over the past few years. It’s a development that surely makes us happy – our own produce, characterised by quality and abundance, is now sitting side by side with imported goods from around the world.
Various promotional campaigns, including those led by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, have, without a doubt, been a success for Qatar’s national products. They’ve created interest in buying local and have opened up new opportunities for regional and international expansion.
So how can Qatari products outshine their international rivals for the long haul? From my perspective there are two main aspects: innovative manufacturing, and state involvement.
‘Innovate or face demise’
To compete in a global market, Qatari manufacturers must focus on innovation. They must look for clever new ways to develop their products, their procedures and mechanisms, their marketing, and their production and distribution.
Today’s consumers know how to research, find, and choose exactly what they want when they want it – old-fashioned retailing principles will no longer meet their needs.
Qatari companies must also cease to rely on the sense of national loyalty that prevailed under the blockade, when many of our products were alone in the market. This cannot and will not continue and for retailers to think otherwise indicates short-sightedness.
Indeed, in a world of rapid growth and development, changes in consumer shopping habits, open economy, and strong competition, companies must innovate or lead themselves to slow death.
Instead, Qatari companies must enhance their brands’ values and reputations. When we talk about Qatar’s national products, we are talking about the identity, shape and reputation associated with them.
Local companies must develop their brands, focusing on the quality of design, packaging and marketing compared to international standards. Then only can they begin to grow locally, regionally and internationally in the long term.
Local companies must also focus on consistent quality and competitive pricing; factors that are closely linked to a fledgling brand’s identity. The modern consumer has such an abundance of different options, they can easily compare Qatari products to global competitors in terms of actual and perceived quality, and value for money.
State backing for local producers
The other part of our discussion on the foundations of success is the state: undoubtedly Qatar must enact legislations that enhance the place of its national products.
In my opinion, it is necessary to have a law setting the minimum prices for products. This will avoid inflation and actions that could harm commercial competitiveness. One such example is Law No. 2 of 2019, which supports the competitiveness of national products and protects them from detrimental international trade factors.
There must be a quick implementation of such legislations, laws and measures, whose remit should also focus on continuing financial help for producers. I say ‘continue’ because such measures already exist. For example, Qatar Development Bank helps by providing space for factories, and aids those who want to export goods.
The role of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is also worth noting. Recently, the authority launched a campaign to promote national products by bringing the local community onboard.
The logo itself could have been better designed and more bold, especially considering the popularity of the campaign among local creatives – all of whom expressed severe dissatisfaction with the winning emblem.
In order to compete on a global level and to ensure Qatari products appear on shelves across the region and world, it is vital to pay close attention to such details. Qatar has a vibrant creative community and this must be reflected in its products to ensure it is distinguished globally.
However, even if I disagree with the design of the logo that emerged from the competition, the ministry’s efforts must be commended.
Even with this kind of state assistance, I believe the main responsibility for the long term success of Qatar’s national products falls on business owners. On top of the core principles of innovation, brand development, quality, and pricing, manufacturers must work together to ensure regional and international competition.
National manufacturers must also think of establishing a union that brings them together to enhance the development of their businesses, and their economic and commercial integration.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Doha News, its editorial board or staff.
Ramzan Rashid Al Naimi is branding and innovation specialist and owner of Be Creative Brand Agency.