South Africa – Brand it! Own it!

Krispy Kreme is coming to South Africa”, “Starbucks is coming to South Africa”, “Hamleys, Baskin Robbins…”

OMG we are so excited, like totally, cannot wait for these brands, we cannot look at any other products, we just need to go out and support these companies, create such a hype around it, and just buy anything they sell us, like there is nothing else to buy.


Krispy Kreme Doughnuts - Photo Courtesy Krispy Kreme

 If you managed to read the above statement with the voice intended – well done! I would insert ‘eyes rolling’ or ‘sarcasm intended’ but I have a feeling that not many people will take kindly to my humour. My intention is not to poke fun at anyone, nor belittle these foreign brands that everyone is getting excited about, but it is merely to open the eyes of the consumer that our local South African market has a lot to offer. Instead of praising and looking with awe at these multinationals, we should try to use that same energy in creating more interest in our brands and companies.

Why do we need to be excited about a foreign brand coming to our shores? Just because society tells us to be excited? The questions that we should be asking are, Are these companies creating sustainable employment? How will it affect our local market?

- Maybe there will be a few thousand tourists thrown in for free with every store that is opened that’s why there is such a big fuss?!

We were also on the bandwagon of bringing international brands to South Africa, in fact almost 10 years ago we approached Krispy Kreme (a gourmet donut store that will be making an appearance soon in our country) to bring them here to South Africa. But then we thought, ‘why invest in bringing international brands here, why not invest in promoting our local brands and taking them overseas?’ Did you know that there are expats and even just foreigners who long for our delicious baked goods?

The Honey Connoisseur and S.A. Softies (Available on our online store) - Photos Courtesy The Honey Connoisseur and S.A. Softies

The amount of talent that we have come across is unreal! And that is just places that we have been to and people whom we have met. In Gauteng alone, more specifically Johannesburg, the Rosebank Mall hosts a market every Sunday. At The Rosebank Sunday Market we have been exposed to such creatively gifted people in every area: clothing, toys, books, art, jewellery, food, drink. People speak about Starbucks having the best coffee – I honestly would not know but I can tell you without a doubt that Sbu and Emmanuel – the coffee guys at Rosebank Sunday Market are pretty awesome java brewers, and I bet they charge half the price of Starbucks. They even add a personal touch and create designs in the cream to your specification while you wait.

 Sbu & Emmanuel's Coffee (Johannesburg) - Photo Courtesy of Rosebank Sunday Market

While we are on the subject of coffee, how many people know Truth Coffee Roastery in Cape Town? If you have never heard of them nor been there, that is a real shame, because just last month they were voted The Best Coffee Shop in the World by the Telegraph. Yes, the world, we have the best coffee here in Cape Town, South Africa. The Telegraph is a longstanding UK publication and I’m sure they know what they are talking about. (The link to the article by the creator of Truth is at the bottom of this article – read what he has to say about Starbucks). Traveller 24 also had an article where they listed their top 10 coffee places in South Africa (link to their article is at the bottom as well). Why don’t you give those a try? Visit those places, give them a review, and send it to us to publish. Try and go to each one of them, if possible. Im pretty sure it will be well worth it, with their prices not nearly as high as the international brands that you would like to praise.

Truth Coffee (Cape Town) - Photo Courtesy David Smith, Ilanga Travel

I could go on to mention each and every local brand/ business that are definitely more deserving of your praise and time but I will not bore you. I would just like to ask you to create the same hype and brand awareness that our local products need.

Brand awareness for our local products falls short due to lack of investment or finance. This in turn makes the brand not appealing in the eyes of a consumer, (who delights in the coming of an international brand), and so the cycle of the local brand trying to survive begins.

I know good quality when I see it, I am quite confident of that. It actually amazes me sometimes when people make a big hype around something and when I test/try the product it falls short. I am not here to knock any brands so I won’t mention some of the recent big food chains that have come to South Africa that I have not been impressed by. Yes, we all do have different tastes, I understand, but surely there is a South African taste that you may enjoy? A few good eating places that come to mind are: Knead, Vovo Telo, Nando's, Doppio Zero and Fishmonger. Good quality food, great service, all South African born brands.

 Photos Courtesy of Fishmonger Rosebank, Doppio Zero, Knead, Nando's, and Vovo Telo

Our entire business is structured around assisting and promoting local businesses and entrepreneurs in South Africa. When we started the business, it was just to assist a few businesses as a favour, but the response has been so good and the interest has grown more and more every day. The response overseas to get South African products to their shores has also been phenomenal and we are proud of all our South African products.

The problem we face in South Africa is that the local business does not have the finances to advertise or market their business, to get the brand awareness that they need, to get exposure here or in the international market, and when the big international brands come to town it makes it that more difficult for these businesses. Some barely even able to survive and close down as a result.

Through our initiative we hope that we can accomplish the same hype in other countries when a South African brand lands in their country as our South Africans create when an international brand opens it’s doors here.

How will our local brands ever grow to the stature of these multinationals when our local consumer is not confident enough to buy these products and support these local businesses?! At the end of the day we are just paying for a label. Sometimes, let's be honest the product is not even a good quality product. Keep buying a label, but this time make it a quality product, A LOCAL ONE.

The Traveller24 article: 

David Donde's article: