Workshop focuses on strengthening Pacific product marketing

CAPTION: Representatives of The Crab Company of Fiji ? an enterprise supported by IACT ? attend the clinic on branding conducted by Helen Milner, a marketing consultant. PHOTO: SPC.

Six Pacific enterprises under the Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) Project were provided with product branding and marketing assistance during a marketing clinic conducted from 29 April to 4 May in Nadi, Fiji.

The training was part of ongoing efforts of IACT to strengthen the export capacity of Pacific countries in the primary industries of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and livestock. The European Union-funded project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of SPC.

The enterprises assisted were: Amruqa, Papua New Guinea; Nishi Trading Ltd, Tonga; Solomon Tropical Products Ltd, Solomon Islands; Marine and Environment Research Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP), Federated States of Micronesia; The Crab Company of Fiji; and Nature?s Way Co-operative (Fiji) Ltd.

The interactive clinic sessions provided hands-on practical support to the participants in the key areas of branding, marketing plan development, and making use of websites and the social media for online marketing.

IACT Team Leader, Samu Turagacati, said this was in line with the aim of the training, which was to get exporters to understand the dynamics of their defined marketing systems.

?The workshop was designed to educate exporters on the importance of having a dynamic marketing plan that will result in products having a strong presence in the market. In- built in the marketing plan is a unique brand that gives the product its right positioning and image,? he explained.

Turagacati said that participants were told that consumers do not necessarily buy the product but the brand, adding that the development of individual enterprise websites was a critical development to promote Pacific products beyond the usual category of consumers.

The week-long training was well received by the participants.

One of them, Wilco Liebregts from The Crab Company of Fiji, explained that the new marketing and product positioning techniques will assist him in developing comprehensive strategies and activities to further promote the company and its products.

?New ideas of promoting our product in Fiji among key clients were discussed, as we want to focus on developing our local markets, and at the same time prepare for export markets,? he added.

Liebregts described the support provided by IACT to enterprises like The Crab Company of Fiji, as exceptional, and highly useful in moving the company forward.

IACT has been assisting The Crab Company of Fiji through direct advice on marketing and planning; producing promotional materials; providing financial support for equipment; streamlining production operations; and ensuring processing, handling and food safety standards such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) qualifications.

For another participant, Simon Ellis from MERIP, the training helped him learn new marketing insights using the social media and websites.

MERIP is a not-for-profit corporation that works with rural coastal communities to develop small aquaculture businesses. One of its product areas is the farming of natural species of sea sponges for the bath and beauty trade.

Ellis said that MERIP is interested in finding the optimum way to sell sea sponges.

?We want to boost our production level, which currently is at 10,000 sponges per year, to about 25,000 per year. Through IACT?s support we want to establish high value markets for our products,? he stated.

According to Ellis, MERIP has plans to establish a new brand concept and a packaging design for the sea sponges.

A similar workshop was conducted for the IACT enterprises in November, last year.

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