Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Boycotting Israeli Brands? - by Roman Ahsan




BOYCOTTING ISRAELI BRANDS? - LET'S ANALYZE THE ISSUE & APPLY OUR MINDS AS PAKISTANIS ON HOW TO ACHIEVE OUR GOALS RATHER THAN MERE EMOTIONS:

by S Roman Ahsan - Nov. 21, 2012

Every time Gaza is attacked by Israel, Muslims around the globe start talking about boycotting those brands & companies which directly or indirectly support the economy of Israel. Let's analyze the issue. It might not be possible for people to completely boycott these brands and they can only make such an effort. Also, we should remember that our urban class is the major consumer of these brands while the business of marketing research agencies and advertising firms in Pakistan mainly thrives on international brands. The 'major' consumers of these brands i.e. the upper & middle classes in Pakistan cannot resist them due to their extensive projection by the marketing research & advertising sectors in Pakistan. So how can we deal with the situation?

Even if a few of us boycott them, their main consumers will remain loyal to them since our local industry is not producing or launching brands with the same quality. Plus, it would be easier for us to boycott luxury items or high-priced brands or restaurants but some products and brands fall in the category of daily consumption habits!

When we say we should boycott NESTLE for instance, do we know that NESTLE office in Lahore has approximately 300-400 Pakistanis (just a rough estimate) as employees? Will it be so easy for those employees to leave those jobs, and are we providing them any replacement for those jobs? The standards in such Multinational firms are also much better compared to local firms where all kinds of unethical practices prevail. The only way out is to nurture and expand the local industries with quality standards in all spheres of operations, so that local brands can find their place in the homes of consumers.

Consider the case of NESTLE yogurt - it was launched in 2001. I was working in a Marketing Research firm then which used to conduct most of research projects for NESTLE. The company conducted the methodology of Focus Group Discussions for taste-tests for NESTLE yogurt with the sample target segments. A local firm, Chaudry Dairies Ltd., makers of Haleeb Tetra Pak Milk then launched Haleeb yogurt soon afterwards which was also freely available in the market. But today, Haleeb yogurt is no more found in the market while NESTLE yogurt is capturing the market for packed yogurt. What can the consumer of packed yogurt do? Some people might speak against processed food and it is true we need to avoid all kinds of processed food. But do we also know that the local 'Dahi waala' uses water that is not pure or filtered and which can cause water-borne diseases like hepatitis and others considering the sanitation conditions in the country? Therefore, what choice does the consumer of packaged yogurt has unless he stops consuming 'yogurt' altogether? Thankfully, some other brands of yogurt launched by local companies like 'Adams' and others are appearing in the market also, and we see some hope.

Gourmet Foods and Engro Foods apart from other local companies are the ones which are striving in these times to offer reasonable good-quality food products and brands to the people of Pakistan. And they need all our support. Also, it is a fact that though we learn from the presence of these Multinational firms but they are exploiting us for their own interests and reaping big profits at the expense of our country's growth. The big fish eats the small fish, so local firms find it difficult to compete with the Multinational firms and many times their businesses are not able to flourish. Hence we need to fight the overall system in Pakistan and the world for our independent survival!

Self-reliance is the key which can rescue us and we should be ready for some sacrifice also. Hence, it is only for conscientious people from Brand-management, local industry & Advertising sectors in Pakistan in association with Pak government to take up the challenge of producing brands and products that can compete with international brands or those that are at least acceptable in the local market. They can do it, only the will & a little bit of selflessness is required!!

BOYCOTTING ISRAELI BRANDS? FURTHER UPDATE - 22 July, 2014

AoA: Revised post on boycotting Israeli brands. Some new points added in the article are given below in bullet points. Plus I have now myself switched from Nestle yogurt to local brand ADAMS (an old local firm based in Sahiwal that manufactures dairy products like cheese & others). Also, the cost of Nestle yogurt is Rs. 85 while ADAMS yogurt costs Rs. 75.


Latest update is that Nestle Yogurt now costs Rs. 90, while Gourmet Yogurt has also come in the market since an year or two, which costs Rs. 70.


IMPORTANT POINTS IN THE ARTICLE:

·         It would be easier for us to boycott luxury items or high-priced brands or restaurants but some products and brands fall in the category of daily consumption habits!


·         Some other brands of yogurt launched by local companies like 'Adams' and others are appearing in the market also, and we see some hope.

·         Gourmet Foods and Engro Foods apart from other local companies are the ones which are striving in these times to offer reasonable good-quality food products and brands to the people of Pakistan. And they need all our support.

·         It is a fact that though we learn from the presence of these Multinational firms but they are exploiting us for their own interests and reaping big profits at the expense of our country's growth.

·         The big fish eats the small fish, so local firms find it difficult to compete with the Multinational firms and many times their businesses are not able to flourish.

·        Hence we need to fight the overall system in Pakistan and the world for our independent survival.

- Written & Compiled by: S Roman Ahsan