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‘Major Part of Georgian Businessmen Seek Short-term Effects, not Long-term Perspectives’

To briefly explain the concept of a brand, this is a perception that is formed in the consumer’s brain in relation to this or that product or service, while the branding is the art of managing the consumer’s perception.

What is the bran? How is a product transformed into a brand? Have managers in Georgia gained due experience? – Levan Koberidze, director of the Branding.ge branding and marketing research company, overviews these and several other issues.

When did the branding concept appear in Georgia and how efficiently do companies employ this direction?

We have set up Branding.ge company as a brand consulting company in 2006. We are glad this term is widely established by both customers and the field professionals. This term acquires relevance stage by stage. The branding is a technology of competition in its essence.

The branding is relevant in the competitive environment. Regretfully, the branding cannot take roots in the monopolistic or limited markets, because the branding means a place in the consumer’s consciousness.

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We need this perception so as the consumer give preference to this or that product, service, company contrary to others. The branding does not work in uncompetitive environment. The fullness and healthiness of our economy is also greatly determined by extension of this aspect in our business environment. If the branding becomes relevant, this signifies the economic environment is competitive.

How flexible and adaptable is our society to innovations?

 The branding is a technology that first of all influences the financial efficiency. In a year or six months they see positive results of our work from both perceptional and financial points of view. Then they seek cooperation with us, but the first steps are always very difficult.

You have mentioned customers lack for information in this field. Whose prerogative is it to educate them and to develop this field?

The vision of people who act in the business environment play a decisive role. The people who own capital should be conceptual leaders and they should do business for the long-term perspective. Georgia suffers from deficiency of similar visions and approaches and a major part of our businessmen seek short-term effects.

Today the capital is concentrated in the hands of the people, who have accumulated certain capital in the Soviet Times.

Today there are a few people in this country, who have made a fortune and gained business experience from their communication with the consumers.

Have we got rid of the Post-Soviet impact? There are a great number of samples of the countries, which have escaped these impacts, while Georgia, as you have mentioned, has only slightly declined from these influences?

The real mechanism to unstuck the Post-Soviet influences consists in competition. Competitive environment drives everything. The consumer benefits from competitive market. To ensure competitive environment, the country should possess cheap money. We have not developed the capital market.

We have developed only the crediting market. If you decide to launch business, you have to apply to a commercial bank and take a high interest rate loan.

Have the Authorities corrected attitude to the business sector if we compare the current and previous ruling parties?

The current government shows more efficient approaches. They follow more right-wing policy in relation to the business sector.

Why do they make accents on the major business compared to the small business, while the very small business drives the whole business sector?

This is the field of vision. I believe the small and medium business is the foundation of any developed country, where small and medium business sectors produce about 70% of GDP. Small and medium business sector employ citizens more reasonably.

You have stressed a proper vision is required to launch new business. Who can define whether the new business follows proper and correct visions?

They are conceptual leaders. They may be founders of a company, top figures in the management and marketing chains. There should be somebody with business vision. Then decisions should be taken in team. The team should develop these visions. The technology that we offer in the working process calls for working in team jointly with the company staff.

The branding also embraces the HR direction and this signifies all employees realize and understand the direction and strategy that the company follows.

As to companies operating in the gastronomy field, how the branding has been developed in the segment?

The gastronomy field is of crucial importance for the whole economy. This is the interconnection of the domestic population with tourists. The situation in this field largely determines very many significant parameters. Currently we have only several cases when facility valuably treats this issue from the position of consumers and cares for the branding, but even the smallest facility should have determined answer to several important questions. First, who is its consumer, for whom has it opened? Second, what does it offer to the consumer?

Something different and interesting should be offered so as the consumer prefer a specific product. Third, how content are the consumers with the services? And the fourth, what is their vision, what are their plans in the future, which way they will follow?

Foreign companies that enter Georgia represent already developed brands. Would you name any Georgia-incorporated company that could be called a brand? If so, what way have they passed?

There is one management company that manages facilities. There are several other companies that have valuably realized the branding principles. They have attained this goal through answering the questions that we have mentioned above. In Georgia businessmen start thinking after they have undertaken business activities, even when the quantity of their consumers decline. The brand companies realize very well that the focus should be made on the consumer. We are not accustomed to consider the consumer as the God.

There are several companies in Georgia that have valuably realized this factor and they have reaped very good results. I do not agree with the assertions that Georgians do not know service. Everything depends on conditions and environment. I do not believe that the service quality of McDonald’s that is a foreign brand differ from the service quality of New York based McDonald’s. When people operate in a proper system, they work respectively.

 The restaurant business and gastronomy field is one of the competitive directions in Georgia. If some companies have managed and created a brand, why do not other companies make the same?

Are there any organizations that would care for upgrading knowledge and educational level of managers so as they develop own business companies?

– The competition genuinely exists, but this direction should be more boosted and several factors should be taken into account. The rotation indicator is very high, because many cafes open in Georgia and then they are closed in a short period. Cafes are very important for the branding of a country and a city in general.

Tbilisi cafes, for example, in the 18th -19th centuries were creating the Tbilisi brand and certain emotions.

As to education, there are certain organizations, where similar knowledge may be received, starting from the Tbilisi Etiquette School ending with Service Plus.

How can Georgian enterpriser transform own product into a brand?

– When trying to make a product into a brand we should realize that it is easy to replace the product.

If you have decided not to follow the branding policy, finally, a product will remain an ordinary product. One café will be replaced by another nearby. This is a simple process, if your café does not offer something interesting and different, characteristic themes. The brand is a way to protect the business from competition in the future.

What is sold – Brand or Product?

– It is important that we know difference between these two concepts. Both of them pay, but there are a great number of products that do not represent a brand, but they pay anyway. In the course of time they face problems amid mounting competition. You should have a perception what additional values make this product sellable. For example, a café offers a yummy dish and attracts many clients. And the café mangers ask us why they need rebranding? But problems arise when competitors appear.

How developed is the wine branding in Georgia?

There are a few companies in Georgia that try to become brand companies. The branding is very important in the winemaking field too.

What makes one wine variety different from another?

Why should I buy Saperavi of this company and not Saperavi of another company?  A major part of companies and the consumer have no answer to these questions.

A major part of the companies is hung on the Georgian wine category. The Georgian wine is a sellable category and I am one of the players – similar companies cannot do favor to the Georgian winemaking. They just exploit the sector to receive profits. The more companies add value to this field, the stronger the Georgian wine category will be.