Team Namibia (TM) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Roberta Da Costa, believes that the success of convincing consumers to purchase local products rather than imported products, which will contribute to the economy of Namibia by keeping the money in the country, will not be a walk in the park.
Da Costa, who has been with Team Namibia for only three months now, believes that the national retail merchandising campaign which was launched recently aimed at gaining a sustainable competitive advantage for Namibian products and services by addressing poor local product visibility in shops, is a start-up point to win the trust of Namibian consumers.
“We had asked for funding from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, so we are hoping it will pull through, but this does not mean we are poor, all companies ask for sponsorship for a specific function, not to pay salaries,” she explains.
“Although Namibian products are expensive because of the low demand, I believe that in order for the price to be low on local products, consumers should have confidence in buying the local products,” Da Costa adds.
As much as she aims to improve the brand loyalty of the local consumers, she is more concerned about the production of the products.
“Many people have good ideas, but are unable to sustain the demand of products once it gets out of stock, we don’t want to get products in shops and when the first bulk of goods are finished, the producer is unable to supply,” she stresses.
Da Costa also reveals that they are currently planning on having commercials on NBC and other radio stations as well as join hands with other companies to create awareness about local products. She says, “We have so many initiatives planned, but I don’t want to reveal much because ideas always get stolen.”
Da Costa also mentions that, “We did well at the Windhoek Showground’s this year, which was one of the achievements so far, and we realized that most people don’t really know all of our local products.
People came to the stand and tasted a few products and went like ‘Is that also Namibian?’ We are also working towards a national brand and are seeing key stakeholders in the private sector to help steer this goal.”
Besides aiming to promote local products, Da Costa also raises her concern on the packaging.
“The producers are struggling in terms of packaging. Because we do not have the expertise of packaging in Namibia, we cannot secure everything in Namibia. Foreign countries support our packaging. Even though Plastic Packaging is doing all it can to help with branding in Namibia, it is not enough,” she continues.
Furthermore, in order to boost local products in the retail market, TM have weekly meetings with retailers. “I have a good relationship with the Pick ‘n Pay Managing Director (MD) as well as the Checkers MD which means we have a good communication in terms of Namibian products.”
I am mostly dealing with the Checkers Group and Pick ‘n Pay because they are also members of Team Namibia. Not that we cannot make it to OK shops, but it is just our principle to do business with our members”, she states.
Team Namibia, which recently signed a co-operation agreement in the context of the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), the Growth-at-Home strategy and Vision 2030 with the Namibian Trade Forum (NTF), is looking forward to building a good relationship with the NTF because she believes they share the same vision.
“The relationship engagement with the NTF was a good idea because, we have the same vision. Team Namibia speaks to consumers, and tell consumers to buy Namibian products, while the NTF creates the framework and say to the retailer to open up shelf space for local producers,” she says.
Team Namibia is a member-based, non-profit movement aimed at mobilising Namibian consumers to buy local, as well as driving the promotion of the production of quality local products and services.
Its vision is to make Namibian products and services part of everyday life, and the mission is to facilitate the increased consumption of Namibian products and services locally and abroad by inspiring competitive standards, stimulating consumer confidence and impacting economic sustainability.
Team Namibia’s approach is to gain a sustainable competitive advantage for Namibian products and services to inspire consumers to support locally-based producers on emotional and rational basis at the point of purchase.
Team Namibia’s formation was spearheaded by the Namibian Manufacturers’ Association (NMA) and the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in 2003.
Initial funding was provided by the founder sponsors Bank Windhoek, FNB Namibia Holdings, Mobile Telecommunications (MTC), NAMDEB, the Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies (O&L) and Telecom Namibia.