PETALING JAYA: The various campaigns encouraging people to support local products under Budget 2022 are crucial in helping to revive struggling businesses, experts said.
Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM) deputy president Beninder Johl said it was important to continuously help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sustain businesses and stimulate domestic economic recovery.
“It can be disastrous to neglect domestically produced products because whenever there is a global economic slowdown, countries relying heavily on imports bear the brunt. More money should be poured into this effort, and apart from public relations campaigns, money must be channelled directly into price promotions,” he told FMT.
He was commenting on finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz’s announcement that RM33 million would be allocated for several campaigns, including the Buy Malaysian Products, Mega Sales and the Khazanah Alam Industry programmes.
The RM33 million is to boost the production and purchase of local handicrafts and natural products.
“While public relations campaigns are helpful, price promotions can be very effective. Other activities that can help include product sampling activities.
“Multinational brands have huge budgets for this purpose, thus ensuring that their products are continuously picked by consumers. Without winning consumer preference and support, everything ends,” Johl said.
He added that as consumers, Malaysians must prioritise local products over imported ones because consumers could determine the level of success of SMEs.
“It’s an ecosystem which cannot be sustained without one another. Domestic economic growth depends on the choice consumers make, which is our collective responsibility towards national socio-economic growth,” he said.
Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) CEO Saravanan Thambirajah said such campaigns could help entrepreneurs expand marketing networks.
“Locally made products play a huge role in the nation’s economy. They contribute towards increasing gross domestic product.”
He noted that local SMEs played an important role in providing jobs and supporting economic growth.
Saying the RM33 million would help initiate support for the uptake of Malaysian products, Saravanan called for proper monitoring of how the funds were spent.
“A study should be conducted to evaluate the preferences of Malaysians and their expectations for locally-made products. This campaign is not new and has been implemented since the early 1980s. The RM33 million should be well spent,” he said.
Saravanan suggested that the funds should go towards the marketing of products online and improving the quality and safety of local products.
“Money should not be wasted on big billboards near highways, instead it should be focused more on putting the products in the people’s hands.
“The campaign should also have a council to look into how concrete action can be implemented, getting input from various industry players like Bank Negara Malaysia, the Economic Planning Unit, statistics department, and non-governmental organisations,” Saravanan said.