Monday, June 29, 2009

The Park Inn Hotel Joins Origin Oman

The Park Inn Hotel has joined the Origin Oman portal ( and is striving to lead by example.

Launched in September 2008, the Origin Oman campaign urges consumers as well as corporates and government agencies to buy local.

Francois Galoisy, General Manager (pictured) at the Park Inn Hotel, said: “We definitely support the Origin Oman campaign. Why buy from the other side of the world when you have quality on your doorstep? In fact, more and more people want to know where their food is coming from.”

The newly-launched hotel is sticking to the company’s responsible business principles by purchasing as much of its fresh meat and produce from local suppliers, and describes the arrangement as a win-win for everyone involved.

“If I spend my money in Oman it’s helping the local economy. From my point of view, that’s vital. It’s so important to buy local if you want to be part of the local community,” suggests Galoisy.

“It doesn’t matter how good your chef is, at the end of the day you need good produce to start off with, and locally we can get the very best. Indeed, we’re keen to work with local suppliers and they’re keen to work with us; it’s a good deal for everyone,” says Sandeep Kamal, The Park Inn’s Executive Chef.

“We’ve a wealth of good, local produce - from meat, vegetables, fish, milk, crisps, yogurt, bread, tea - the list is endless, all produced by people who care about the quality and taste of the food we eat,” remarked the Park Inn General Manager adding: “Not only does local taste better but the food is produced in an environmentally friendly way with less use of chemicals, less distance to transport the products and more emphasis on animal welfare. We need to 'think local' whenever we buy food and encourage schools, colleges, businesses and government departments to do the same.”

“The Origin Oman campaign is an excellent way of promoting what we’ve got here in the sultanate and the more we can do to support local producers the better. In my experience, hotel guests would much rather eat something with a local flavour than something they know they can eat anywhere,” smiles Galoisy.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Origin Oman's Consumer Survey Results

The National Products Campaign was re-launched in September 2008 under a new name and brand mark - Origin Oman.

Origin Oman is a think local business initiative driven by PEIE. The campaign aims to preserve and enhance the economic, human and natural vitality of Oman’s communities by promoting the importance of purchasing locally made products and services.

The Origin Oman campaign recently carried out an online and face-to-face survey with 500 Muscat-based consumers. This is what they had to say:

1. Have you heard about the Origin Oman campaign?
Yes 79.45%
No 20.55%

2. If so, where did you first hear about it?
Magazine 30.70%
Newspaper 9.77%
Radio 0.00%
Word-of-Mouth 22.33%
TV 4.65%
Other 32.56%

3. Have you seen the Origin Oman logo? (without visual prompt)
Yes 69.96%
No 30.04%

4. Do you recognize the logo? (with visual prompt)
Yes 71.65%
No 28.35%

5. Where did you first see the Origin Oman logo?
Newspaper 29.22%
Magazine 11.42%
Supermarket 10.05%
Packaging 1.83%
Other 47.49%

6. In general, do you know where the products you buy are produced/grown?
Yes 47.62%
No 7.54%
Sometimes 44.84%

7. When buying a product, do you consider the importance of whether it's locally made/grown?
Yes 52.55%
No 14.90%
Sometimes 32.50%

8. When buying a product, would a label saying Origin Oman have
A positive impact 76.82%
A negative impact 3.16%
No impact 20.55%

9. On average, how often do you buy locally made/grown products?
Weekly 60.32%
Monthly 30.54%
Yearly 3.17%
Never 3.9%

10. What stops you from buying locally made/grown products?
Lack of availability 17.37%
Don’t know what’s locally made/grown 5.67%
Too expensive8.04%
Poor packaging 14.99%
Quality is low or inconsistent 20.48%
Would rather buy a brand I trust 14.99%
Don’t see why it’s important 2.74%
Lack of information 15.72%

11. Do you think shops in Oman do enough to promote locally made/grown products?
Yes 15.42%
No 84.58%

12. Are you interested in learning more about locally made/grown products?
Very interested 43.65%
Interested 39.29%
Not interested 17.06%

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Product Design Q&A

Following on from Origin Oman's recent Product Design & Packaging Workshop - here's a 5 minute Q&A with Peter Ford of De Montfort University one of the Workshop presenters.

How has packaging evolved?

Approaches to packaging are as varied as the products they contain. The nature of packaging has to relate closely to what is being packaged, in many cases there is little need to think beyond basic protection; the packaging of potatoes for example; however this is not always the case. New materials, new processes and new analysis techniques have revolutionized the industry, for example quadroseal foil packs can be much more effective for the packaging of many products (sweets for example) than cardboard packaging. For success stories look at Quadraseal packs and of course Tetrapak.

Does packaging push up prices?

'Clever, innovative' packaging should not necessarily push up the price. Poor packaging could however lower the perceived value of the product or conversely complement or enhance the perceived value of the product; you wouldn't expect to buy Chanel No5 in a paper bag.

How packaging conscious are consumers?

The level of the packaging should always complement the product; and iPod is a clever smart piece of product design, the consumer will expect an appropriate level of packaging. There may be some occasions when the consumer is more attracted to the packaging than the product contained (a sweet dispenser for example (PEZ)), but generally speaking, if the consumer is unhappy with the product both product and packaging are wasted. However, if the packaging is poor but the consumer still purchases the product and the product is good then the packaging will simply be forgotten. The shame would be if a consumer is deterred from purchasing a good product because the packaging is poor.

Is there a 'packaging matrix' that simplifies the packaging process?

Interesting; I don't know of one other than that gained through experience, although there are a growing number of eco-tools becoming available for designers, tools that provide a checklist to a designer to map the eco/carbon footprint of their creations.

Today’s consumer is more eco-conscious and price-sensitive. How is the packaging industry adapting to this change in thinking?

It is generally seen as an opportunity rather than a threat and is giving rise to quite a growth in eco-orientated packaging. It can be seen as a marketing tool.

Packaging adds to the waste stream. How major a contributor is it?

Again I don't know to be honest but it will be a significant proportion. Further to what I said earlier, 'eco' also relates to recycling, re use and sustainability. A healthy, global approach to environmental issues will reduce waste.

Toxic materials used in packaging, despite laws restricting the use of heavy metals, add to environmental pollution. How serious is the problem?

This also relates to one of the earlier questions on environmental issues, there has to be a responsible attitude to waste management, manufacturers must be made responsible for the disposal of their goods after their usable life.

Under-packaging isn’t good but over-packaging is worse. What’s the right balance?

The right balance is the most appropriate balance of the design criteria. This will largely depend on experience and measured approach to prototyping testing and evaluation prior to a product launch.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Top 10 Local Business Ideas

An attendee at a recent Big Business Idea Competition Workshop asked us for our top 10 local business ideas for the future. This is what we came up with.

1. Mobile lifestyle centres – these can be night-spot venues or gaming centres created out of old shipping containers that can be constructed at any location across Oman complete with electricity, audio-visual and hospitality equipment. It's all about surprising and entertaining consumers with fresh, engaging experiences in what many would consider to be ‘alternative’ locations.

2. Asset sharing - With more and more opportunities for leasing and other forms of partial or temporary ownership on the rise, how about a local website that offered Oman-based consumers an extensive asset sharing scheme ranging from handbags, watches, racehorses to classic cars to helicopters, all of which would be available in shares or time-slots.

3. New life-style magazine - Even as people spend more and more time online, they still crave the comfort of the printed page. However, given time pressure, most folk need help with keeping up-to-date with the ever-increasing number of print titles. A local bi-monthly magazine that brought together the best content from lesser-known fashion and lifestyle publications from around the world, enhanced by commentary from renowned creative figures would be an excellent initiative.

4. Hour-long MP3 audio guides to Omani cities - for example, Muscat, Salalah, Sohar and Nizwa - designed to give tourists a vibrant portrayal of Oman. The hour-long tours would blend walking instructions with historic story-telling, accompanied by the signature sounds of each city. They should be made available in Arabic, English, French, German, Russian and Japanese.

5. Finding the right teacher or course - A local portal that would help people find classes taught by Oman-based teachers, trainers, tutors, instructors and coaches.

6. Kids, the web and local issues - There are government-run websites aimed at collecting feedback and generating involvement among local residents, but we don’t have any aimed directly at Oman’s youth - nationals and expatriate. Operated by ITA or KOM perhaps, the site would be geared towards kids aged between 9 and 18 living across Oman, offering them local information and getting them involved in local community issues.

7. Green pedal-power – eco-friendly taxis have been around for generations, but what about introducing free eco-taxi rides throughout the streets of Muscat? The eco-taxi would be pedal-powered - but battery-assisted, when necessary - tricycles that could accommodate three people for emissions-free transit through Muscat. They would offer short-distance travel within Muscat from 10 am to 7 pm, seven days a week. Rides on the vehicles would be free, of course, through the power of sponsorship. Vehicles would be wrapped with brand-specific colours and imagery, and drivers could also hand out leaflets, wear branded clothing or target particular areas of the capital.

8. Locally funded Cultural Cafe - Get 12,500 people to pledge a donation of RO20. The pooled amount of RO250,000 will be used to launch a platform for local creative talent – from graphic designers, to musicians and artists. A coffee shop by day and a bistro by night, the Omani Cultural Cafe would be staffed by 12 trainees from low opportunity backgrounds, who would be trained by local businesses. Oman’s Cultural Cafe's RO250,000 investors will be able to influence the venture's development through an online community developed for the project.

If the initiative doesn't work out, not much is lost, since investors don't hand over their twenty Rials until 12,499 others have agreed to do the same. If it does work, this could be a model for other civic groups to follow to get ventures off the ground without relying on government subsidies.

9. Buy local - we’ve all seen the new Origin Oman, buy local campaign. Indeed, consumers right across the globe are demanding items that are produced locally, ethically and authentically. What about a locally manufactured range of logo-free clothing items and accessories for men, women and children with the goal of creating Oman-based jobs and promoting local creative fashion talent. Everything from design, fabric manufacture to dyeing, cutting and sewing would be performed in Oman, and through a wholesale service, retailers could customize items with the colours, fabrics and formats of their choice.

10. The Green Workout Room - a gym that generates a significant portion of its own electricity through the sweat-producing efforts of its members. Fully equipped with name-brand cardio equipment, a full weight room and a room for yoga/stretching, movement and core training, The Green Workout Room would uses a combination of solar and pedal electricity for a large portion of its energy needs. The Green Workout Room would aim to use less resources than the average health club. For example, floors would be made from recycled rubber, marmoleum and eco-friendly cork flooring; billing would be paperless; and the gym’s bathrooms would use non-toxic soaps and cleaning supplies.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE