In association with the Club of Business Journalists of Serbia, business portal eKapija has conducted a poll to find out the extent to which our consumers are willing to buy domestic products. The results of the poll that was conducted on www.ekapija.com in late April show that 92% of the polled people are of the opinion that it is important to buy domestic products, while the same percentage of those who took the poll would back the campaigns that promote procurement of the products made in Serbia.
What is also interesting is that every second polled person is willing to pay higher price for the same quality of a product if it is made in Serbia, while smaller percentage of the polled people (40%) would agree to buy a domestic product of lower quality than foreign product of the same price.
As high as 69% of participants in the poll say they take care of whether the goods they buy are made in Serbia, while 67% of them try hard to find an alternative to their favorite foreign product among domestic products.
Only 19% of the polled people are of the opinion that domestic products are easily noticeable, while 72% say that our products should be better displayed in markets.
Question "Are you familiar with term 'economic patriotism'?" was answered affirmatively by 63% of the polled people, while the share of those who are not familiar with the term amounts to 20%. Only 17% answered "maybe".
Total of 2,000 people took part in the poll, 72% of whom are members of middle and high senior management.
Businessmen and economists on the poll's results
Comments on the results of the poll have been given by Slobodan Petrović, CEO of investment fund Salford in Serbia, Bojan Radun, a member of the Administrative Board and the Executive Director of Nectar, Zdravko Lončar, CEO of web portal eKapija, Professor Dr. Mlađan Kovačević and Professor Dr. Slobodan Komazec.
Slobodan Petrović, CEO of Salford, says that the campaigns that promote procurement of domestic products are very important for Serbian economy and that they must not be occasional. Instead, constant education of consumers is necessary.
- The Government's measures that should help our companies are of crucial importance for the promotion of domestic production. We are currently competing with the products from the European Union whose companies have more factories and cutting-edge technology, produce larger series and, thus, offer more competitive prices.
Petrović points out that we lack a developed feeling of economic patriotism because Serbian consumers thought for a long time that the products from the West were of better quality.
Bojan Radun, a member of the Administrative Board and the Executive Director of Nectar, says that our consumers back domestic products in theory, but that they are not ready for compromise in practice.
- Domestic products are dominant only in those categories where they obviously offer better "value for money" than the foreign competition, so that consumers behave rationally, and not as "economic patriots". It is a prejudice to say that foreign products are of better quality than domestic ones, especially in the food sector. The only thing that domestic products lack is better marketing.
- What is necessary is education of consumers and development of an image of domestic manufacturers. Our consumers should realize that sometimes the procurement of a domestic product that is a bit more expensive than an imported product is in the interest of both them and our country. Concretely, in the industry of fruit juices, over 95% of products bought by our consumers are made in Serbia. That is the result of high competitiveness of this industry and continuous investments, and I dare to claim that the quality of juices and nectars in Serbia is higher than in the majority of European countries, as well as the offer in Serbia are much bigger than in some much more developed markets.
Zdravko Lončar, CEO of web portal eKapija, says that the poll's results send three important messages.
- The message for manufacturers is that they should mark domestic products in a better and more visible way and try to insist on quality in order to be able to compete with foreign products because our consumers are willing to pay higher price for a domestic product of the same quality as the foreign one. The message for market chains is to make the shelves with the products made in Serbia more visible. The message for the Government is that the awareness of the need for procurement of domestic goods exists and that the campaigns that refresh that awareness and promote the quality of domestic products should be launched from time to time.
Professor Dr. Mlađan Kovačević is of the opinion that, by conducting the customs and overestimated Dinar exchange rate policies, Serbia introduced the concept of so-called "fried country" because foreign goods were cheaper. In that way, it "killed" primarily Serbian agrarian and building sectors, as well as some other industries.
- Serbia has very small share of export in GNP. It amounted to 22.3% in 2009, which is much less than in neighboring countries. In order to change those figures, Serbia must resolve three problems - it must prevent the outflow of "brains" and capital, increase trust in the system and develop new technologies and equipment - Kovačević estimated.
Professor Dr. Slobodan Komazec reminds that the procurement of foreign goods means outflow of national savings to foreign countries and constant deficit of foreign trade and balance of payments.
- Strategic orientation towards procurement of domestic products requires certain assumptions. By that I primarily mean sufficient offer and quality of domestic products that can compete with the foreign ones, acceptable prices of domestic products, sufficiently high level of patriotic awareness, as well as official reorientation of macroeconomic policy towards stimulating and supporting such policies of demand and consumption - Komazec explained.
Komazec also says that some of the options for stimulating domestic production are more favorable credit and customs policies, lower VAT on domestic products, more favorable consumer loans, stimuli for production of goods with dominant share of domestic components and mergers between domestic manufacturers of such products.
Take a look at the graphs of the poll's results by clicking the link to PDF file: