I was at my daughetr’s school this morning to watch a small play on the Creation (armed with torch and yellow T-shirt, she was part of Day One – when light was created). One of her classmates was wearing a black T-shirt (night), but what got me was the logo on it: “NOT MADE IN CHINA”.
Last week, there was massive media hype about the “Proudly South African” campaign and how it was failing to deliver on promises. Some big companies are seriously reconsidering their investments (which can amount to over half a million rand a year – payment is based on turnover). (See reports at Business Day or SABC News). The campaign is intended to get people to support local businesses. It doesn’t seem as if its working.

But why is this a surprise to anyone? I certainly would not put national pride above other considerations in my purchasing – and that relates to any purchase at any level!! As a consumer, my concerns include price, quality, availability, customer service and brand awareness.
But this isn’t the first time something like this has failed. If the people involved had read some advertising history, they would have learnt that consumers do not buy countries or even companies. They buy value. Buy British, a campaign in the 1930s, when cheap goods from Hong Kong flooded Britain, was a failure as well.
Instead of becoming more protectionist, we need to ensure that our industries are competitve, creative and give value. Then, people will buy their products and services. Its as simple as that.

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