Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When Marketing Goes Wrong

What don’t we grasp about marketing? Just past Speke Resort in Munyonyo, is Mulungu or Kabaka’s Landing Site (KLS). I don’t know why they call it KLS and sought to find out. However nobody seemed to know why except, that Kabaka landed there but no one knows which Kabaka it was – Mutebi or one of his predecessors.

There is nothing to tell Granny about KLS except, that come Sunday’s, Rasta and anybody with a ‘dope’ motorbike flocks there to smoke marijuana, drink kasese, fondle and grope Fishmongers Wife.

Rasta and Dope Biker aside, what takes sane people to KLS is the fresh and cheap fish. At the entrance to KLS, Woman Marketer swamps you to buy Fishmonger’s Wife’s fish.

She is not the best marketer because in a take-it-or-leave-it attitude she barks: “Fish - boiled, fried or grilled. Which do you want?” Nor is she bothered if the table you sit at is clean as long as you order from her and not the competition.

She makes a killing for every weekend, KLS is packed to the rafters. However, one thing they don’t have, are toilets. Men have to pee on the fish entrails at the edge of the lake, while I am told women squat and pee in basins. Ouch!

A few weeks ago, along with Kayos, Doc and Stella (friends who want to see their names appear in the paper – bless them) we were hosted to a fish dinner at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel by Grace Moreno, a Filipino who knows more about fish than Fishmongers Wife.

At KLS if you asked for lobster, squid or tuna, Fishmongers Wife would give you a blank stare because she has never heard of them and all she knows is Talapia or Nile Perch – unless of course, she has done some Google-ing. Might she have heard of Google? Tight.

Obviously it would be hard to make comparison between Marketing Girl at KLS and Moreno at the Sheraton but in some ways their paths do cross.

Marketing Girl at KLS is raw and aggressive. She is devoid of class and uses fish entrails for perfume. She is adorned in a white blood splattered apron and a white net on her head. She has no time for the finesse that Moreno has – the small talk about where the fish was caught or how long it took to get the lobster from the sea and into the kitchen. I am sure if I had asked, Moreno would probably have told me the number of scales on each of the fish on display while Fishmongers Wife would bark that she’s not here to count scales but sell fish.

Marketing in Uganda is haphazard. How does Fishmongers Wife at KLS expect to attract more customers when she doesn’t have toilets? Or take orders with fingers coated in entrail slime or dipping her hand into her bra to adjust a misbehaving boob? Perhaps that is why Moreno, the South Africans’ and the Kenyans’ are making a good living in Uganda with their marketing skills.

While it was cheaper to have had the Talapia from Lake Victoria, Moreno sold us lobster all the way from Mombasa at a hefty price because she had excellent marketing skills, it was worth the cost and it was better than fighting off the blue pit latrine flies that swarm your fish no sooner has it been served and having to pee or squat on fish entrails with the odd fish eye looking up at you at KLS. The eye that looked up at me as I peed unnerved and gave me goose pimples. I think it was a mudfish eye.                    


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