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EXPORT MARKETING

African coffee producers embrace e-commerce to attract Chinese consumers

By our News Team | 2022

Both Rwanda and Ethiopia have been using the on-ground knowledge of their diplomatic missions in China for innovative coffee-marketing campaigns.

Coffee is a money spinner for many African countries, with the number of nations who are involved in its production and export numbering upwards of 30. Some are major players – such as Ethiopia, which is one of the ‘big five’ global producers – while others include the likes of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Congo and Madagascar.

Recently, both Ethiopia and Rwanda enrolled members of their respective diplomatic missions as temporary coffee marketers to help them tap into new customers in China and increase their exports to the Asian nation. 

The country’s booming e-commerce market – it has around a billion internet users and massive online marketplaces such as Alibaba – provided a perfect platform for Rwanda’s Ambassador to China, James Kimonyo, to engage in some innovative marketing on behalf of the east-central African nation.

Export Marketing

Rwanda’s Ambassador to China, James Kimonyo (right) on his way to deliver an order of Rwandan coffee to a Chinese online shopper. Photo credit: Embassy of Rwanda via Twitter

According to a report published in Rwanda’s New Times newspaper, Kimonyo surprised many people when he cycled to the home of a Chinese consumer who had ordered Rwandan coffee online from JD.com, a popular e-commerce site. 

Ambassador thanked customer for their purchase

Dressed in the outfit of a JD.com delivery person – and accompanied by real delivery personnel from the company, as well as local media – he thanked the client for supporting the Rwandan coffee industry and presented her with a certificate of appreciation.

“This is just one of the ways that the Rwandan Embassy in China is attempting to get the attention of the Chinese consumers, in a country that boasts a very competitive e-commerce industry and a massive digital economy,” the New Times noted in its article.

Not to be outdone in the African coffee-marketing stakes, Ethiopia has also been active in China through its diplomatic mission.

According to a report in the online publication Quartz Africa, Ethiopia’s ambassador to China, Teshome Toga Chanaka, participated in a livestream event with top Chinese influencer Li Jiaqi, also known as Lipstick King, on e-commerce retailer Alibaba’s e-shopping platform Tmall. 

“Pleasantly surprised that more than 11 000 bags (500gm) of Ethiopian Coffee in stock were sold in 5 seconds in Shanghai in a live-streaming online event where the most influencer promoter #Li Jiaqi and I promoted # Ethiopian Coffee,” Chanaka said in a post-event Tweet.

To read more of this article, go to page 20 of the latest issue (Issue 1 2022) of Strategic Marketing for Africa, the magazine of the African Marketing Confederation. You can access the Digital Edition here.

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