Ugandan brands might need to explore the use of opinion leaders to endorse a brand
By Jonathan Phillip Kyetume
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Uganda was worth 25.89 billion US dollars in
2017, and at this value only represents 0.04 percent of the world economy (tradingeconomics.com)
Globalization and regional integration offer tremendous opportunity for economic growth however it introduces a great challenge to our home made products; Competition. In order to achieve the much desired economy growth , it is only imperative that we improve and grow consumption especially of goods Made in Uganda as this will also greatly decrease on imports for some products hence a more positive GDP, this being in line with the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU) Policy. Consumer perceptions of Ugandan brands are extremely important when analysing possible growth of market share of Ugandan brands in-county.
Unfortunately Ugandan brands suffer negative brand perception, negative brand image profile and a lot of Price-Quality inconsistencies in relation to quality, packaging, technology and various parameters that result in a greater perceived risk in the mind of a Ugandan consumer hence opt for a foreign brand. The perceived risk might be in functional, physical, psychological or associated with time for a specific Ugandan brand.
Every day, the average Ugandan is presented with countless opportunities to purchase and consume, both to satisfy their physical needs and to express their identity and values. It is then important to understand our consumer's behaviour but also most importantly their perceptions on Ugandan brands, improve image profile and what can be done to improve their attitudes to influence purchase hence increase sales and profitability.
Phillip Drucker said ‘‘If you can't measure it, you can't improve it'' .A strategic Ugandan brand then needs to perform market research, image profiling and also a Price-Quality analysis on their products, then using the data can plan to improve to maintain and grow their market share.
Various factors influence buying behaviour given the different purchasing power of consumers and related dynamics like individual buying behaviour, group buying behaviour and in a family setting.
With increase in access to information, the millennial consumer has access to any required information about a specific brand, including varieties of that offer satisfaction of a given consumer need. Information about brand choice is usually sought in the finals stages of the buying decision process and this introduces an important source; Gatekeepers
Gatekeepers, also referred to as custodians of information are very key in influencing consumer perception about a given brand. Gatekeepers consist of opinion leaders and opinion formers. The latter are consumers who have large influence over the purchasing behaviour of other consumers as they usually have a huge following and also represent the desired state in the eyes of the consumers and the former are considered knowledgeable about a given industry and trusted by their peers.
Ugandan brands might need to explore the use of opinion leaders to endorse a brand, as this will not only increase brand awareness but also sales.
With the increased internet accessibility and social media usage as a communication channel, Usage of content marketing and also interactive owned platforms improve the consumer experience with the brand, resulting into brand loyalty and improved perception.
Also important is advertising as a communication element, not only does it increase brand awareness but is also associated with perceived quality in the consumers mind.
The consumer's mind perceives expensive brands to be of high quality especially if the consumer's values are reflected by other consumers in the market, It is then key for a Ugandan brand to use the appropriate Pricing Strategy Matrix; Penetration pricing and Premium Pricing.
An integrated marketing strategy focusing on Content marketing, Gatekeepers, Price-Quality matrix and advertising as key influencers of consumer perception of brands Made in Uganda must then be employed to improve brand awareness, sales, brand loyalty, which will in turn increase profitability, boost competition with foreign brands and finally achieve the much desired economy growth.
Writer is a marketing student