The Role Local Businesses Need to Play
“Buying Malaysian, for Malaysia” is a two-way street
Image via Ash Edmonds
It’s time for Malaysians to step our game up.
We all know the benefits of supporting local businesses — how it can boost the domestic economy and create job opportunities. It’s been proven through last year’s Buy Malaysian campaign, which saw a whopping RM430 million in sales. And in troubled times like these, our economy needs the support more than ever.
Datuk Nadzmi Johan, Malaysian Islamic Consumers Association chief activist, points out how countries like Germany, Japan and South Korea which place a heavy emphasis on their local products have developed faster, and how we should take a leaf out of their books.
The government has launched the campaign again this year to encourage Malaysians to support local businesses and buy local products instead of imported goods. However, before we start convincing our fellow countrymen to purchase local products and services, the businesses themselves have to play their part as well, don’t you think?
We’ve come up with 4 must-dos for local SMEs if we want to turn the tide and encourage our rakyat to “Buy Malaysian”:
1. Ensure quality
Image via Emile Guillemot
There persists a stereotype that local products are of inferior quality to that of imported ones, so it is vital to produce goods that are on par, if not better than imported goods in order to get people to support their products and break the stereotype.
Darshan Singh Dillon, the president of Malaysia Consumers Movement, noted that manufacturers and service providers need to understand the importance of ensuring that their goods and services are of utmost quality, with a reasonable and affordable price tag to boot.
This means thoroughly auditing, surveying, inspecting and testing your product all throughout the manufacturing process to assure quality.
2. Make buying accessible
Image via Morning Brew
Businesses have to stay up to date with the latest selling methods, especially e-commerce, if they want people to be able to buy their products. If consumers are unable to get their hands on a product easily, they will be less likely to buy it.
Malaysia’s Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) has allocated RM20 million for this year’s “Buy Malaysian” campaign, so businesses need to take this golden opportunity to increase their visibility in both hypermarkets and e-commerce platforms in the country.
In fact, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs has collaborated with Shopee to launch an in-app portal to sell products made in Malaysia, which will be available till the end of the year.
3. Attractive packaging
Image via Village Grocer
We say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when it comes to marketing, that’s exactly what people do!
It may not seem cost-friendly, especially if you’re a startup with not much budget, but it’s important to take into account how appealing your product’s packaging and aesthetic is to your consumers.
The aesthetic-usability effect is a phenomenon whereby people tend to perceive aesthetic things as easier and better to use than less aesthetic products — basically “pretty privilege” for objects.
After all, a product’s packaging is what people see first, and it’s what builds the very first impression. If it’s unable to attract people, how do you expect people to buy your products?
Image via Patrik Michalicka
Branding is more important than you think.
Establishing a trustworthy and reliable identity and image isn’t easy, but it’s essential in running a successful business and retaining customer loyalty. It’s crucial to not just build a presence and differentiate your brand from others, but to maintain it.
Through branding, businesses create value for their consumers, giving their consumers all the more reason to support them. It’s also how people recognize you: take for example Dutch Lady and Munchy’s, two local brands who have made themselves into household names. When people recognize you, they’re more likely to buy your products because of the credibility you’ve earned for yourself.
There’s no point in urging the public to support local businesses if the businesses themselves aren’t doing their part. That’s why local businesses need to work hard on multiple facets first in order to persuade and encourage people to buy Malaysian-made products.
This way, we’ll all be able to reap the benefits of a prospering economy and constantly developing nation! #barangbaikbarangkita