• QA 059
    What marketing strategy for good quality arabica?
    Rwanda produces very good quality arabica coffee. What marketing strategy would you recommend for us?
    Asked by:
    Government official - Rwanda

    We agree with you that Rwanda is capable of producing excellent quality and assume your question is motivated by the growing production of washed arabica. Nevertheless, availability remains modest.

    We cannot offer a tailor made strategy for Rwanda as such. However, based on our general knowledge of your industry we would offer three general comments.

    1. Any producer of quality coffee seeking to create or exploit a particular market segment, a niche market, needs to direct the right coffee to the right people. To start with your industry should therefore know which of the quality characteristics of Rwanda coffee are appreciated where. For example, the green bean quality requirements for conventional roasted coffee are different from those for coffee to be used for espresso - see 12.09.04/05. Not all markets like acidic coffees. And so on. Then establish whether those markets or buyers generally pay decent prices, and what motivation they require before they will take the product seriously.

    2. However, marketing strategies must not only take into account positives such as good quality, but also limitations. In this case limited availability means to us that your marketing strategy should focus on markets or individual buyers that can be serviced adequately in terms of quality and availability. But try to avoid becoming overly dependent on one or two outlets only…

    3. Government institutions can play an important supporting role. Immediately obvious pointers are of course ensuring that coffee industry regulations are practical and flexible, that export procedures are not unnecessarily cumbersome, and that the industry can access resources such as inputs, credit, extension services and research for example.  But also, help the industry to present a positive image, for example by facilitating the establishment and supporting the promotion of a collective mark, "an appellation" for top quality, exemplary Rwanda coffee that also guarantees traceability and transparency. A mark that can be advertised and promoted by the industry as a whole, without losing individual product (washing station) identities. Back this up, for example by facilitating (subsidizing?) attendance at overseas trade shows and travel cum training opportunities for industry professionals, including coffee tasters and quality controllers! Assist producers and exporters to access good and up to date market intelligence. The list of direct and indirect supporting measures a government can help facilitate, as part of an industry marketing strategy, is almost endless…

    Of course even the best strategy will fail if contract execution is not exemplary as well. The buyer gets exactly what he bought, time and again. Shipments are homogeneous and are perfectly executed. Shipping documentation is up to standard and available on time, etc…

    Related references on this website include: 02.12 Coffee promotion, 03.01 Introduction to the specialty market, and 03.03 Mapping technology in coffee marketing. We would also recommend you to refer to chapter 11, sections 11.01 through 11.08, where both exemplary coffee and mainstream coffee are discussed. We suggest thisbecause marketing strategy must be inclusive as not all coffee is necessarily of exemplary quality. This means mainstream or industrial type coffees have to be marketed as well.  At best possible prices…

    Our Question and Answer Archive contains a number of answers that have a direct or indirect link with the foregoing:

    QA 036 - Promoting a new specialty coffee…
    QA 048 - Does it pay to exhibit at tradeshows?

    QA 009 - Can a geographical name be trademarked?
    QA 011 - Registering a collective mark in the USA
    QA 015 - Registering trademarks in the European Union
    QA 044 - Registering trademarks in Japan

    QA 032 - How to approach new buyers
    QA 027 - The pros and cons of exclusive marketing arrangements
    QA 018 - Credit risk and direct sales
    QA 035 - Is credit risk in Europe different from that in the US?

    QA 057 - Finding information on import markets worldwide
    QA 007 - Finding European market data

    Posted 19 November 2005

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    Related Q & A:
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