What’s in a Name: Building Brand Competitiveness
Story of the Organic Rice Cluster, Prachinburi, Thailand
Branding can make or break a product’s performance in the market, and in the face of competition, the right branding can make a product stand out in a sea of similar competing products. With Thailand aiming to join China and India as the world’s top producers of organic rice, it is only expected for rice producers in the country to want to set themselves apart from the still few but remarkably significant competition.
The Nakham Organic Rice Community Enterprise is one of them. Established in 2007, this small and medium enterprise (SME) cluster group has been exporting organic rice to China but would like to strengthen their market brand and better compete in a country where competition in rice products is steep. Their long-term goal is to be able to export to other countries.
Being selected as one of the SME cluster groups in the MI-led project on Enhancing Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) of ASEAN Mekong Subregion had been a welcome opportunity to explore steps to achieve their business goals.
On September 12-17, 2016, the cluster group’s leader joined MI’s training on SME Cluster Development and Export Consortia Formation, a learning experience that raised interesting insights and presented important concepts on such topics as product diversification and marketing and branding plan.
Fueled with ideas from the training, the cluster group’s first move was to apply for a certification from the Thailand Food and Drug Association (FDA) as well as a certification for Milky Rice test for its nutrition facts at the Central Laboratory (Thailand). To further strengthen its niche in the organic rice market, the cluster group also applied for a certification from the Organic Agricultural Certification Thailand (ACT).
These certifications will provide that stamp of approval that will establish the enterprise as a reliable brand, and therefore enhance buyers’ trust and confidence. More importantly, with these certifications, the brand can better differentiate itself and its products from competitors.
In February 2017, the cluster group received the results of their Milky Rice test. A month later, their certification from the FDA came in. Currently, they are awaiting their ACT certification. At the same time, the cluster group continues their efforts to improve their brand. In early 2017, they have developed a new product brand and package design and even a product brochure in Thai and English versions.
Business development activities were also strengthened with members of the cluster group visiting several organic rice producers in Nakhon Ratchasima and Sa-Kaeo provinces. The cluster group’s monthly meetings also allow the members to share their knowledge on topics like product making technology and product development.
With its long-term goal of exporting overseas, the next step is to connect with buyers from exporting markets. Participation in trade promotion events and trade fairs through the support and opportunities provided by MI can help the cluster group step up its game. In fact, there is a high potential of integrating the cluster group with other organic rice growing groups in Prachinburi province. A bigger cluster group would mean the promise of boosting organic rice production and even positioning organic rice as a representative product of Prachinburi both in the domestic and global markets.