The Slovenia Times

Slovenian Brands Need Innovation, Specific Niches, Panel Hears


Opportunities for Slovenian brands lay in innovation and specific market niches, while the state must improve the business environment.

Mercator CEO Toni Balažič said that the Slovenian economy was in a very interesting phase, as it has become less susceptible to the crisis. Restructuring has been relatively successfully, exports are growing, the economy is based on SMEs, innovation and is an important part of the global chain, he added.

The boss of Slovenia's largest retailer believes that further success is not in the hands of companies, but the state. "If we do not change the tax policy, these companies will start intensively moving its know-how and capital abroad."

According to Balažič, some signs of optimism can be seen, but the state needs to do its homework in order to encourage businesses to truly start making major investments in further development of brands and products.

There is no room left for brands on the market of consumer goods, the market is closing, he said, noting that the share of Slovenian brands in an average shop in Slovenia is 25%. The manoeuvring space is very limited, and only large and profitable brands will survive, according to him.

Balažič sees prospects in the promotion of local brands at the regional level. "Local origin is getting increasingly important," he said, adding that this was the next phase of brand management on which Mercator was already working.

Janez Damjan, the founder of the Slovenian Marketing Conference, which will be held in Portorož on 26 and 27 May for the 20th time, pointed to changes in the structure of markets, both in Europe and globally. The change in balance of power made the once glorious Slovenian brands lose its power, he added.

The head of conference's programming council Primož Hvala said that the large basis that Slovenian brands had had at the time of former Yugoslavia, was gone. The domestic market has become too small, which is why brands need to focus on innovation and specific niches, he added.

Maja Makovec Brenčič of the Ljubljana faculty of Economics agreed that Slovenian brands have lost the competitive edge on markets where they had been locally recognised, but on the other hand this encouraged the development of corporate brands that generate more added value.

Slovenia has potential in developing solutions for quality of life, energy and health care, but consumer brands should not be neglected and should be developed further, she concluded.


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