Let the Diaspora be your friend in Business

Jamaicans are not short on creative ideas when it comes to starting up a business. But for many of them the challenges are the same – they are often frustrated by their inability to go beyond the island’s coast.

Media Marketing Specialist, Dave Rodney, of Images LLC in New York said networking with the Diaspora is definitely good for business on several levels.

“Conducting business with the wider Diaspora significantly increases the demand for Jamaican goods and services. Additionally, average annual household incomes in core Diaspora markets like the UK, Canada and the United States tend to be higher than in Jamaica, thereby enabling a greater spend on some consumer products overseas,” he points out.

For manufacturers who specialize in items such as jerk seasonings, sauces, and Jamaican spices, he said there is a definite niche for those products.

It is not surprising that many Jamaicans miss the traditional taste of the island and they will certainly embrace the chance to satisfy their yearning taste buds.

He reminded, of course, that this demand is not limited to Jamaicans overseas. He said it “bleeds into the mainstream market segment in the Diaspora creating an accelerated demand which brings huge rewards for local manufacturers, suppliers and distributors.”

Many local entrepreneurs are already aware of the huge benefits that can be derived from Diaspora connection … but the million dollar question for them is “how to make it happen?”

Admitting that it is an ongoing challenge and one that is faced by both large and small companies, Rodney said marketing efforts accompanied with advertising are two of the primary ways that consumers learn about Jamaican products, so it is clearly important that effective links are in place to address these areas. “But there are other concerns such as distribution, positioning retail outlets and adhering to overseas regulations and guidelines that are all very important too. How to go about it effectively? Hire smart and experienced help, listen to your eyes and ears in the marketplace and do your own research to get sensible guidance for complex questions. And it never hurts to make friends and build bridges with as many entities as possible,” are sage words from the marketer.

He further advises small businesses wishing to make an impact on the Diaspora to first bring a product or service of value to the table. The company he said, must also find a way to be seen, heard and sampled.

“When these pre-requisites are in place, the company will then have the opportunity to take off like a rocket,” he said.

Relating an experience he had recently attending a reggae concert in New York, he said he saw Knutsford Express promoting its services at the Jamaica Tourist Board station.

“The presence of this Jamaican bus company was generating an unusually high volume of traffic as well as complimentary raves about the quality of service it offers in Jamaica,” points out Rodney as he mentioned that he doesn’t normally see  that  kind of enthusiastic buzz at an event.

“But, I think this real attraction was present because consumers feel Knutsford Express is offering exactly what they need, at the right price, with courtesy and efficiency. More companies should take a closer look at this example to help refine their offerings to John (or Jane) Public,” he concludes.

Are you ready to get noticed by the Diaspora? If not, what are you waiting for?!

 

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Cecelia Campbell- Livingston - Contributor
Cecelia Campbell-Livingston has over 20 years of journalism experience. Her career started as a writer for the now defunct Jamaica Record, before moving on to The Jamaica Herald/XNews. Later, she served as Coordinator for the teen publication, Teen Herald. In 2008 she joined the staff of the Jamaica Observer as an entertainment writer. Since December 2014, she has been the Clarendon correspondent for the Jamaica Gleaner.

The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of JAMPRO

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