Marketing plays a significant role in familiarising particular product/service in domestic and international markets. Japan has attained enormous economic success by following some business models which an emerging economy like Bangladesh can do by promoting a sector and thus creating brand image.
One concept is 'Product-out' which is launching of product in the market without considering customers' need and demand. It focuses on needs of a company to put their products and services onto the market. Market-in concept, on the other hand, defines that the producers launch product in the market considering the customers' need and demand. This concept includes a flexibility to respond to frequently changeable market needs, and innovative management of company.
It is important to understand the two approaches. One might hear about 'One Village One Product' (OVOP) concept of Japan. It is related to 'Product-Out' concept. So this concept did not get popularity in many countries due to its product-oriented approaches. Though Japan tried its best to familiarise this concept in the developing world it did not work properly there. It did not work well in Bangladesh as well.
Generally, marketing research for identifying customers' need and demand is essential component of marketing. STP (Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning) , SWOT Analysis [Strength and Weakness (Internal Analysis ) Opportunity and Threat (External analysis)] and PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social and Technical Environment) are also crucial to promoting any product in the market.
Japan is now successfully implementing Market-in approach to promote product and services in the world market. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is in the centre to introduce this Market-in concept to promote local product of the developing countries through human resource development (HRD) programme.
Business Development Services (BDS) from government and private sectors help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to develop their business. With a view to promoting local products in the world market, the role of Central and Local Government, Export Trade Supporting Agency, same sector association (chambers and trade association), producers and the company is indispensible. Timely policy formulation, financial and other non-financial support from central government and its due supervision to implement those are key to success for business. Support and cooperation from export supporting agency are as well important from the perspective of the government. To implement the government policy and support programme (financial and non-financial), the same sector association has to play a crucial role by offering necessary support such as dissemination of information to their members, developing human resource through training and workshop, setting up quality standard and support and cooperation to comply with standard. The main players of the business arena, the producers (i.e. SMEs), need to respond accordingly to compete with the competitors.
In Japan, the prefectural government plays an extraordinary role in promoting the local industry. Beef and furniture from HIDA City of Gifu Prefecture are well known in the world due to unique role of promoting these sectors with the help of same sector associations. The Gifu prefectural government set up the standard of rearing the cattle and procedure of collecting beef from slaughtering house for creating unique brand image in order to position HIDA Beef in premier market segment. Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) offers members input for production, facilities for packaging, transportation, and marketing of agricultural products, and provides financial services. It works under the umbrella of the government and protects interest of the farmers.
In order to create unique brand image, JA helps beef producing enterprise to comply with the standard set up by the government. The prefectural government with the help of JA undertakes initiatives such as catering training to farmers, participation in international trade fair, holding event with famous chefs by demonstrating cooking before premier segment customers and holding event in upscale restaurant in developed countries like France and the UK. Branding initiative of the prefectural government created the premier brand image of HIDA Beef to beef lovers around the world. This is why one kilogram of premier category of HIDA beef costs Tk 5,000.00 (Taka five thousand only).
Hida Woodworking Federation with the help of local government as well created the brand image of HIDA Furniture and positioned their brand in the premier segments. To create a unique brand image of the products various ways were followed by the government, export supporting agency and same sector association. They include setting up standard by the same sector association in line with guidelines set by government; creation of collective trade mark for banding; selection of qualified members for using collective trademarks; monitoring of selected companies' performance (on whether they comply with the standard); and participation in the international trade fair/trade conference/business matchmaking/single country trade fair and local fair to create the brand image.
Accordingly, the government formulates policy and guidelines. In addition, it provides financial and non-financial support to the export supporting agency and same sector associations to implement brand building initiative effectively.
Bangladesh has not been yet able to create any brand image for any of its sector to promote the country as premier brand. But world-renowned brands use Bangladesh's apparel sector as their supply source. Bangladesh is the world's 2nd largest exporter of apparel products occupying 6.40 per cent of the global apparel pie. We export our apparel items on original equipment manufacturer (OEM) basis. This is why we cannot claim good price for our apparels from buyers.
It has been obvious that our unit price of apparel products is decreasing even though our volume of export is increasing. Bangladesh will graduate from least developed country (LDC) status to middle income country by 2024. The preferential market access will expire in most of the developed countries by 2024 except the European Union (EU). Everything but Arms (EBA) scheme of the EU will expire in 2027. To keep momentum of growth of apparel products, we have to concentrate on creation of Brand Bangladesh.
This is high time for the country to take initiative to create 'Brand Bangladesh' for the apparel sector following Japan's footsteps. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), with the help of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and under the guidance from the Ministry of Commerce, can take the initiative to create the brand image. The two associations have adequate number of compliant enterprises which can produce premier high value apparel items to penetrate into the niche market. We have huge talents to materialise the initiative but the most important thing we need to do is to take an initiative to implement Brand Bangladesh. Hopefully with dynamic leadership of the two sector associations -- BGMEA and BKMEA -- the Brand Bangladesh Initiative will come into reality soon.
Other prime export sectors such as leather and leather goods, jute and jute goods, fish and agro-processes sector can be brought in to implement the Brand Bangladesh Initiative. The Ministry of Commerce and Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) can play the lead role in formulating a roadmap of Brand Bangladesh. To ensure sustainable export growth in line with the Perspective Plan of Bangladesh (2010-2021), there is no other alternative to brand Bangladesh.
Abu Mukhles Alamgir Hossain is Deputy Director at Export promotion Bureau.