By Zara Maqbool
Have I been jumping on the branded bandwagon? It’s a question I ask myself many times when the shopping impulse becomes uncontrollable and I have to see whether I am shopping a brand or actually being quality conscious.
Ever since my first born came in this world fourteen years ago I have been getting her and her sibling’s clothes, shoes etc. from abroad, US primarily. Having a brother living abroad I took full advantage of getting all their things from America. Many in my family felt I was brand conscious and had my nose in the air and the typical statement, “Pakistan se sab kuch milta hai.” This statement used to drive me up the wall because so many times I have struggled with getting basic things like biker shorts for my toddler scavenging from one shop to another. I have struggled with getting nightwear or decent looking formal dresses and shoes. A decade back some western brands entered the market but they are so overpriced here that I don’t find it value for my money and I only shop there as a last resort.
Since a few years some local brands have come in the forefront and they are pretty decent too and thus I do shop from there every now and then. But when I compare the deals I get abroad and the good quality and variety that they offer, shopping in Pakistan seems like a compromise. And every time I have visited the very few westernized brands I have paid extra and felt miserable doing it.
It’s the same when it comes to the toys available here. All China imported toys are available and the very few worthwhile are at very expensive rates. Most of these toys fall apart on the way to home and are just of very poor quality.
The question that arises in my mind is that when there is so much growth in other sectors, children’s clothing, toy stores have not expanded. We have lots of international franchises operating in Pakistan especially in the food industry but there is hardly anyone interested in bringing a proper children clothing or shoe chain here.
Do we not have enough market for it? I am sure all those who happily visit Subway, Burger King would be as happy as shopping from Gap, Gymboree or Children’s Place or would love to have a Toys r us here.
Some people have started having exhibitions of branded kids’ stuff and I attended a few only to be pushed around by quality hungry or brand conscious moms, not sure which category they fall into.
Another thing that bugs me is why so many of these foreign brands have come to India and not here. Yes we are a smaller fish in the pond or whatever the popular quote is but there is a lot of potential in the Pakistani market too now.
What frustrates me as a consumer is how for good quality I have to pay exorbitant prices. A small example is the uniform I buy for my children. Two of them go to a fancier private school and they are associated with a top end clothing chain of Pakistan and I pay an arm and a leg for basic uniform. Whereas my son who goes to a less fancy or elite school the uniform shop charges less but God knows I haven’t seen a more poor quality of uniform in my life. The cotton shirt actually feels like paper.
At the end of the day as a consumer I would be more than happy to visit any local brand if I get a good combination of quality and price. I would prefer supporting my economy any time of the day as opposed to strengthening foreign countries economy.