ITC creates brand for Zanzibar cloves, chillies and cinnamon

12 June 2015
ITC News

The strategy is to provide a higher margin for farmers. This improves their standard of living, giving them better housing and ability to purchase consumer items.
                                                          Julian Raphael, Permanent Secretary
                                                         Ministry for Industry, Trade and Marketing, Zanzibar

Mzee Mussa used to sell his chilli peppers by the roadside to local passers-by and the occasional tourist in the northwestern tip of Unguja, Zanzibar’s central island. His spices will soon be available in major hotels across the province and he will earn a third more money. The difference: branding.

The Zanzibar State Trading Corporation is set to launch the island’s first-ever product line of local spices, Zanzibar Exotic Originals, with packaging and branding designed by ITC. The spices will initially be marketed to tourists on the island, then the Tanzanian mainland, and eventually exported to neighbouring countries and markets further afield.

‘By branding these products, we are realizing their real profit potential,’ said Nasor Mazrui, Zanzibar’s minister for industry, trade and marketing. ‘The people of Zanzibar will realize the full benefit of branding, to add value.’

The Zanzibar-branded spices are calculated to appeal to visitors. ‘Tourists who come to the island are interested in buying high quality local products, and the new product line meets that demand,’ said Julian Raphael, permanent secretary at the ministry.

Working with a range of stakeholders including government officials, growers and the hotel sector, ITC helped develop a positioning strategy and brand for the island and its spice products. It sourced bottles and appropriate labelling technology - a simple hand-cranked device capable of labelling a thousand bottles a day – and arranged for labels and boxes to be printed in the region.

While Zanzibar is best known for its cloves and chillies, other spices such as cinnamon and pepper will be part of the future product line, for which local producers have been sourcing quality organic spices.

‘A full kit has a lot more appeal than a single spice,’ said James Howe, who leads the ITC practice area on marketing and branding. Diversifying into other spices makes farmers less dependent on a single crop and its fluctuating price, he said.

Crucially, Mussa, a father of four young children, will get more of the upside as well. Middlemen who used to buy some of his chillies would mark it up three to four times before and sell it on to hotels or tourists.

Branding for higher margins

Growers in developing countries, most of them small businesses, typically earn less than 10% of the final price of primary goods. The largest proportion of the revenue and the highest margin are captured by importers and retailers. On the other hand, when products are differentiated through strong branding the balance shifts in favour of growers. To secure and sustain a market position in higher value-added products and services, a country’s exports must be not only competitive but clearly differentiated through recognizable branding.

‘The strategy is to provide a higher margin for farmers,’ Raphael said. ‘This improves their standard of living, giving them better housing and ability to purchase consumer items.’

A next step in distinguishing spices is to register a geographical indication for cloves, the islands’ dominant export crop, a project in which the World Intellectual Property Organization is assisting the government, Raphael explained.

‘We still have a lot to do in terms of scientific identification,’ he said. ‘Also, people need to see that these products are organic, have been prepared and packaged properly, as part of a hygienic process. All of this needs resources, so we welcome donors to assist us in adding value.’

What’s in a brand: minarets,
door carvings and spices

The brand concept of Zanzibar Exotic Originals is inspired by Zanzibar’s historic role as a major trading port between cultures and continents. Spices symbolize the mystique of the ages, the essence of village life and the islands’ trading heritage. The minaret design draws on the Arabic and Indian architectural influence on the island. Its shape is derived from the world-famous beautifully carved doors of Zanzibar. The name is flexible enough to accommodate local soaps and other non-spice products in the future.

‘The name, Zanzibar Exotic Originals, expresses the heritage of Zanzibar and the vitality of both spice farming and trade to the life of Zanzibar’s people and the future of the islands. When you buy Zanzibar Exotic Originals you are buying a taste of Zanzibar’s unique, exotic culture. You are also buying a guarantee of the authentic, organic nature of the produce. You are buying the smile of the children in the villages where the cloves and spices are grown.’

(from Zanzibar Exotic Originals booklet)

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