Region: bring on the branding
A few months ago, strollers on Tverskaya Boulvard - Moscow’s Fifth Avenue - could see a shop window in the city’s biggest bookstore, offering an elegant wood box containing a bottle of Flor de Caña , Nicaragua’s signature rum, for readers who bought a Russian-language set of the pirate novels of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Subconsciously linking Johnny Depp, the pirate-move series, the romance of the Caribbean Sea, and the rum made in a nation washed by Caribbean waters, is a stroke of marketing genius by Flor de Caña, whose plan to expand its exports was the subject last week of a report by Public Radio International.
For its part, Café Britt of Costa Rica has succeeded in promoting its brand internationally, through a combination of high-quality packaging, highly visible locations in Latin American airports, and extensive Internet marketing.
Many Central American products could likewise expand their markets significantly, if they stopped being commodities and started becoming brands, with specific distinguishing characteristics. The region’s advantages include low prices for many basic agricultural products - including cocoa, fruits, and even cotton - which with moderate investments (and a healthy dose of imagination) could become value-added brands.