FRANCHISORS of local brands in Malaysia should look at creating branding for their franchises rather than concentrate on marketing strategies to create brands on par with well-known international companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken or McDonald's, said Brand Mercatus (M) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Peter Pek.
Pek said most franchise owners in Malaysia were unaware of the fine line between marketing strategies and branding, an important criterion in a country like Malaysia where there was a perception that local brands were not as good as the foreign ones.
With proper systems in place and a high level of consistency in quality, there is no reason why local franchises cannot have the same level of success as foreign franchises, Pek told StarBiz in an interview after a hi-tea talk in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The event was jointly organised by the Malaysian Franchise Association and Brand Mercatus.
Entitled Raising the Profile of Franchised Brands, the talk, in the form of a forum and workshop, was an informal session featuring speakers involved in the franchise industry in Malaysia.
They included Pek; Mohamed Shah Abdul Kadir, managing director and joint venture partner of Golden Arches Restaurant (M) Sdn Bhd, the franchise holder of McDonald's restaurants; Datuk Chin See Kiat, managing director of England Optical Group (M) Sdn Bhd; and Harris Kor, director of Shoe Connection Sdn Bhd, which holds the franchise for Hush Puppies Apparel.
Pek pointed out that consumers in Malaysia often were not able to differentiate between genuine foreign franchises and the local because they believed local ones did not have the same kind of quality as foreign franchises like KFC or Hush Puppies.
Thus, he said, some local franchises operated behind foreign sounding names or what he described as a mask, which was often misleading although such a move had been attributed to the success enjoyed by some local franchise.
Pek said a key criterion in local franchisees enjoying success was maintaining a consistent level of quality in all their outlets and a system where all employees were able to consistently produce high quality food products.
Another major stumbling block, he added, was that many Malaysian brands seemed apologetic about being Malaysian.
He said they often overlooked the fact that they had the ability to produce top quality products or services which were on par with international brands.
Thus the government's emphasis on supporting local brands to find their feet and identity in the run-up to the knowledge-based economy can be considered a step in the right direction.
It would also help local brands gain the confidence they need and the trust of consumers, Pek said.
According to Pek, gaining the trust of consumers regarding the quality of local brands is an all-important factor for local brands to succeed in their businesses.
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