By Hamayun Khan
Afghanistan has always been a pivot-hub for business activities, as In 2018, The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index rated Afghanistan at 167 from 183 because of its remarkable economic reforms in the ease of doing business. The Afghan government; despite being beached in a political crux, has undertaken several important reforming steps to grasp the attention of both the Afghan private-sector and foreign direct investment (FDI). For example, it has streamlined the business license registration process under the Afghanistan Central Business Registry (ACBR), which has extended the validity of business licenses to three years and reduced the licensing fee. However, competition among the local brands has still remained persistent regardless of giving priority to customer value and ethics in Marketing.
Since brands across the world are struggling to avoid repercussions of the novel COVID-19 by turning the prevailing crises into profit-making opportunities, some local companies in Afghanistan have started the same by practicing unethical marketing techniques. Following the sudden inflation in the country started in the first few weeks of the spread of the pandemic that caused the ordinary people to bear the hike in prices due to the high demand for safety measures, media reports reveal the unfair competition between the manufacturing firms.
Gulbarg Pvt Ltd, a local manufacturing company based in Heart was recently accused of being reckless towards the employees during the lockdown. according to the anecdotes, later on, the allegations proved wrong and baseless, nonetheless, the companies witnessed a fall in customer size because of the public’s mistrust. It is reportedly said that The rival company had paid a certain sum of money to the social media celebrities for making false statements against Gulberg to deflect customers’ attention. The company that prompted the social media celebrities for spreading propaganda against Gulberg is still unknown and the disguised objectives folded, but the CEO of Gulberg went on to clarify the allegations without exposing the mastermind behind the action.
While the discourse on inflation; severely hitting the markets in Afghanistan, is at the peak, the general public is the sole victim of the whole saga irrespective of which company wins the competitions. to gain customers’ attention and increase profit margin most of the firms in Afghanistan follow the marketing techniques in such a way that can help them surpass each other neglecting quality and price of the products or other ethical marketing practices. Primarily, most of the successful companies across the globe tend to be in price competition, they increase their customer size by decreasing the price of their products, while several others largely invest in the streamlining of quality of the products to attract customers. On contrary, in Afghanistan, the marketing strategy generally adopted by firms is to defame the goodwill of the rival company so as to divert customers’ attention, since customers tend to avoid dealing with firms having a bad image.
Normally customers indulge price competition that is carried out by firms, because as competition in price becomes stiff, so much so customers reap the fruits, the same is the case with competition being practiced concerning the quality of products. but in the case of Afghanistan, the market climate is utterly different, some firms dominate the market by spreading false propaganda against their competitors, this way the brand image of the victim company gets spoiled, customers stop purchasing products of that company and ultimately the company bears the unexpected ramifications. therefore, to maintain a win-win competition based on fair marketing strategies, brands in Afghanistan are required considering the price of the products to be determined as per the customers’ demand and product quality that needs to be streamlined while getting into a competition and to take over the market.
Due to the hike in oil price, the socio-economic hindrances caused by weeks-long lockdown, and the clumsy security situation, the people of Afghanistan are stranded in a condition wherein they are challenged from many angles that seem arduous for the people to ride out this ailing and trying times. Therefore, the government must outline policies concerning marketing ethics and fair competition. manufacturing companies, on the other hand, are advised to avoid unfair competition, which results in an inclusive loss both for the firms and the customers, instead, they should prioritize customer value and stick to ethics in marketing.
*Hamayun Khan, Freelance writer for Business Times, contributes pieces to Eurasia Review, final year MBA student at Punjab Technical University, India.