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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sri Lanka must drive branding in the key industry sectors - former EDB Chief

Daily News: 13/08/2005" BY HIRAN A Seneviratne

THE Coconut Products Traders' Association organised a seminar on " Marketing strategies to promote Global Trade" at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce last week, where the guest speaker was former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) Rohantha Athukorala, a top marketer.

During his tenure Lankan exports grew to Rs. 194 billion at a 11.8% growth with innovative out of the box marketing strategies.

If Sri Lanka supplies 70% of the world demand and the Cinnamon grown in Sri Lanka is unique given the soil structure, we must drive a premium price with branding to make this business a Rs. 10 Billion industry before the competitor 'Cassia' makes in roads into our markets.

Branding 'Ceylon Cinnamon' under a geographical basis can be costly globally and time consuming for approval but may be from a type style would be the easiest and practical.

With the support of John Keells who is to launch their top end hotel properties under the 'Cinnamon Branding,' the country can use this as an effective medium to communicate to the world.

Each room can have a stick of Ceylon Cinnamon with its uniqueness that can be taken back by a tourist as a memento - meaning a 600,000 visitors being our ambassadors to the world.

A Cinnamon outlet in each hotel exhibiting the portfolio is another way to communicate to the world other than magazine and web advertising and brochures together with MGM (Member gets member programmes) can be done below the line with publicity in the local media.

Another area is the sapphire segment. Princess Diana's wedding ring had a sapphire from Sri Lanka. "We need to maximise this opportunity that exists globally now that the VAT has been taken off. An eminent designer called Webster has been contracted by the sapphire council and 50 designs developed.

The Sri Lanka value addition products can be a Rs. 115 billion business for Sri Lanka. The way forward is Lankaprene. The local company that comprises all the key plantation companies have been formed.

The distributor in the United States to the pharmaceutical industry has been also identified. We need get into a meaningful partnership backed by the American Chamber of Commerce so that we can drive this market with purpose with the brand name - Lankaprene.

Athukorala, will be staging a "World Marketing Forum" end of this year taking Sri Lanka's industry to branding which can further give impetus to this concept.

The Sri Lanka's spice market is worth around Rs. 7 billion in export proceeds. Out of this, 80% is cinnamon. "Ceylon Cinnamon" is unique globally due to the soil structure in our country. It is far superior to Cassia that comes from the south east Asia.

There have been many attempts to build the concept of Branding to this treasure, that comes from our land so that it will be worth in terms of a 'brand name' more than the export proceeds of Rs. 7 Billion. By accident this is coming through with a large conglomerate branding its hotels under the 'Cinnamon Branding'.

The tea market is worth Rs. 75 billion for Sri Lanka on export proceeds. We need to very clearly position Pure Ceylon teas under the "Ceylon Tea" branding and any blended versions under the "Sri Lanka Tea" brand name.

We already have one of the seven top brands of tea in the world, but we now need to focus on a national picture for the long-term benefits to the country.

The Jewellery collection developed by acclaimed jewellery designer Webster needs the strong advertising muscle of magazine advertising and in store merchandising. First we need to launch in Sri Lanka and build an identity in our own country before moving globally.

Sri Lanka is also known for quality fruits and vegetables. We need to brand these exports under a 'Ethical Banner' so that we can gain a premium price due to us using environmental friendly chemicals, without child labour and equality at work place.

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