No name, no gain: Local specialties struggle for recognition

08:46 | 25/11/2019 Economy- Society

(VEN) - Vietnamese local specialties are the pride of many regions, but weaknesses in marketing, developing and promoting their brand names prevent them from yielding high economic values. Together with marketing solutions, each local specialty needs to identify unique features that make its products special compared with others in order to attract customers.

local specialties struggle for recognition

Limitations in developing local specialties

Quang Ninh Province is a pioneer in the “One Commune One Product” (OCOP) program, which has been effective in developing production, creating jobs, and increasing people’s income. Le Hong Giang, Deputy Director of the provincial Industry and Trade Department said that the number of localities and products joining the program increased from 40 participants and 48 products in 2013 to 164 participants and 412 products in September 2019. These specialties are often sold as tourist souvenirs and used for trade promotion in the province and also for on-site exports.

To achieve the above results, Quang Ninh has developed its transport and trade infrastructure, also focusing on trade promotion programs to introduce and promote the local typical and specific products widely in different markets.

Despite the high potential and demand for Vietnamese local specialties, the awareness on developing these products remains incomplete. Many localities have not yet built a long-term development plan based on the criteria to evaluate and develop specialty brands.

According to distribution enterprises, they often encounter difficulties due to unstable supplies by businesses and cooperatives even though distribution contracts had been signed.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Deputy General Director of VinEco Agricultural Production and Investment Development Co Ltd, said supermarkets now require certificates of origin, and trademarks issued by management agencies in order to put products on shelves. However, most regional specialties by small-scale producers have not met these requirements due to unplanned, manual production methods using backward technologies, which result in low production and business efficiency, as well as low product competitiveness.

Strengthening connections

According to economic experts, in order to boost consumption of regional specialties, apart from trade promotion activities, each regional specific product should build a brand and promote innovation of design and packaging. At the same time, production enterprises need to combine their resources to save costs and improve competitiveness in order to help local specialties obtain a firm foothold domestically and gradually expand to the world market.

To help local specialties access modern distribution channels, Director of the Dong Que chain store Vu Hoa said that producers have to display safety hygiene certificates provided by Food Hygiene and Safety Departments. In addition, product labels must clearly indicate the composition of the goods, instructions for use, and traceability codes. Especially important is for each local specialty to bear its own story that makes it unique compared to other similar products, and will stimulate customer interest.

In terms of designing packages and packing local specialties, Vu Hoa recommended that localities and enterprise associate products with the cultures of different peoples and regions to generate curiosity and provide a novel experience for customers. “The package designs should not have too many colors, it is important to highlight the information you want to convey to customers,” Mr. Hoa said.

Director of the Vietnam Institute of Industrial and Trade Policy and Strategy (Ministry of Industry and Trade) Nguyen Van Hoi said that in addition to improving designs, packages, quality, and traceability of products, enterprises should pay special attention to diverse forms of trade promotion, and sharing profits throughout the production chain.

Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade Tran Thi Phuong Lan also said that enterprises should disseminate information on local specialties by emphasizing differences among the products so that they are more recognizable.

To boost the consumption of local specialties, Tran Thi Phuong Lan recommended that enterprises map out long-term plans with specific goals, instead of setting plans for each year. They also need to connect with retail businesses in setting up distribution systems, thereby promoting product consumption in the domestic and foreign markets.

According to the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (Ministry of Science and Technology), there are

more than 800 specialized agricultural, forestry and fishery products from 720 different localities in Vietnam. However,

so far only some 60 products have been registered successfully for Geographical Indication protection, and about 160

trademarks were registered for legal rights and protections.

Nguyen Hanh