Two School of Business faculty members with expertise in marketing were invited to the United Nations recently to share insights with officials from 40 countries interested in attracting foreign capital to stimulate development.
There is growing interest among economic planners in developing countries in the relationship between development and what is known as “nation marketing.” French perfume, Swiss chocolate, and German luxury cars are examples of images that successfully exploit distinctive national attributes to generate economic growth.
In a bid to encourage developing nations to tap their own “branding” potential, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) hosted its first workshop in late July on promoting international trade and development through marketing.
Subhash Jain, a professor of international marketing and Robert Bird, assistant professor of legal studies in the School of Business, led the workshop. It was attended by UN delegates, members of the UN Secretariat, and representatives of UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions in New York City.
Bird, who joined the UConn faculty in 2004, had conducted seminars on intellectual property rights and foreign investment in developing countries for UNITAR in 2002 and 2004 while teaching at Seton Hall University. “I brought my UN contacts to Storrs,” he says.
Bird and Jain discussed the concept of a nation as a brand earlier this year and proposed a seminar on the topic to UNITAR officials, with specific strategies for developing countries to attract foreign direct investment.
Jain notes that in today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace, distinguishing a product, service, or place from others provides a competitive advantage. An effective branding strategy can help a nation differentiate itself by establishing a distinctive character in the minds of investors.
He says China has successfully attracted more than $80 billion in foreign investment by effectively marketing a welcoming investment climate. “Branding has become a strategic issue that determines the success of not only firms, but also nations,” he says.
Bird says that for a country to achieve successful branding it must focus on its strengths. Once a key asset is selected and a campaign to inform others is launched, branding becomes a tool for generating economic growth and development through targeted marketing to specific industries or investors for equity capital.
“Branding will not build roads, seaports or other infrastructure,” Bird notes, “but will maximize assets that a country already has and advertise them to the maximum benefit.”
UNITAR was established in 1965 to help the UN achieve its objectives in the areas of peace and security, and economic and social development. It has helped train foreign service personnel, mainly from developing countries, and has undertaken research on development issues in collaboration with academic institutions worldwide.