In our local grocery shop you can buy a couple of different varieties of yoghurt drink. Two popular kinds sit right next to each other on the shelf. I’m not a big breakfast eater; as I did when I lived in Europe, I like to take a drinkable yoghurt to work in the morning. I prefer the Drinki – the Oshikandela looks a bit foreign to me; for whatever reason, I imagine it will be a bit sour, or somehow not what I am used to. Once, when they were out of Drinki, I picked up a few of the Oshis, and my suspicions were confirmed – the taste was a bit “off” from what I was used to.
Except here’s the thing. They are exactly the same product. For marketing reasons, Namibia Dairies has chosen to market exactly the same product to two different groups (Namibians of African extraction, versus those of European extraction) using different packaging. Presumably they have highly paid, crack marketing teams who have been paid to figure this out. Even stranger, the products sell for different prices in the same store. Oshikandela goes for N$6.99 at our local Spar; Drinki sells for N$7.49. At this point, I remind you that they sit right next to each other, on the same shelf in the dairy section. Is this a case of the store charging “what the market will bear.” Can we assume that white Namibians will shell out an additional 50 (Namibian) cents for the exact same product, just packaged differently? Has someone done a study to figure out that they are willing to spend the extra cash for the product that doesn’t have an African-sounding name and cartoon drawings of traditional huts?
I personally found it strange that either the packaging, or perhaps some unknown cultural baggage, affected my sense of taste. Could it have been the more realistic looking strawberry that made the Drinki “taste better”? or the odd combination of yellow and pink that made the Oshi “taste worse”?
Oshikandela gets its own Facebook page – with over 5,000 “likes” – huge, by Namibian standards. On that page, Oshikandela is linked to “childhood memories:” A quality drinking yoghurt produced by Namibia Dairies, every sip of Oshikandela brings back the happiest of childhood memories, while creating some new ones for a fresh generation of Oshikandela lovers. It’s made from the best Namibian rBST free milk. A search for “drinki” returns nothing other than a list of articles on drinking. So I suspect the marketers at Namibia Dairies asked themselves one day, “How can we get white Namibians to buy more Oshikandela?” and not “how can we get more black Namibians to buy Drinki?” Unless they just made up the whole Oshikandela childhood memories thing. And if I stay in Windhoek long enough, I may eventually run into someone who got a promotion for coming up with the Drinki design. And maybe, over a beer, he or she will explain they decided not to include the “easy drink cup” graphic on the Drinki, but instead just show a picture of a straw and lipstick. Meanwhile, I know where I can get “Drinki” for 50 cents less.