I love talking about Wax fabrics, it’s a real passion. Those who meet me and have the misfortune to ask me for my opinion or questions often regret it because I am inexhaustible on the subject. I’m a truth blabbermouth, but I always aking myself a lot of questions on this subject.
I teach nothing to anybody by saying that originally, it is especially in Europe where the wax is produced, in particularly by a company of which the hegemony is almost an exception: Vlisco. For reminder, Vlisco holds the brands Vlisco (which production plant is located to Helmond in Holland), Woodin, Uniwax and GTP (factories are in Africa for these 3 last ones). In terms of brand strategy, one of the strengths of Vlisco was to set up a brand portfolio with different positionings and different strategies, to avoid any cannibalism between them.
But since a decade, this hegemony is more and more disputed by the raid of the Chinese in the wax fabrics market. Following the example of Vlisco, they manage the design, the production and the marketing of their wax fabrics in Africa (Soso Wax). The entry of the Chinese on this market is all the more aggressive as not only they produce their own models of fabrics but in more they do not hesitate to copy some key models of Vlisco and cherry on the cake all this at prices widely lower than those of Vlisco.
We thus find ourselves with a hyper competitive market where counterfeit became a queen, in the point to shake the giant Vlisco, obliged to revise its copy in terms of marketing strategy and positioning stands out. Indeed, Vlisco opts for a repositioning stand out on a segment dislocate and adopts a strategy which we can consider as "fast-fashion", by creating new collections every 3 months, to leave not much time with counterfeit.
My question is: how could it have come to this? I mean, how China did to reach so easily the African market with their fake and cheap wax fabrics? If Dutch people at that time had took advantage of an opportunity, for Chinese people at this present time, its seems to handle with :
1) Geopolitical stakes
2) Chinese investments strategies
|source : www.rfi.fr|
1) Geopolitical stakes:
How many times did not we tax such or such other country to act in a neocolonialist way towards some African countries and years after the independences? The relations with China has been developed in this context, on one hand for economic reasons and others part to take out of a shape of yoke and put in competition the various partners to obtain the best price. It turned out that China had the best arguments. It has been now decade, since more and more Chinese settle down with their family in Africa to work in construction sites, build infrastructures etc.... This strong presence allowed Chinese people, according to me, to study local markets, to understand and take especially note of the desire of the Africans for wax fabrics and enter into this market, monopoly of Vlisco.
2) Investments strategies:
But What I didn’t realize until I read “Le journal du Textile” N°2160 of March 12th, it’s far beyond the setting up in the wax fabrics market, but it is well and truly in all the African textile sector that China became established, in the point to have the control over it. It’s with astonishment and surprise that I learn in this magazine that:
- China undertakes since several years massive investments in the acquisition of cotton fields to secure its own supplies.
- China creates textile factories in Africa (in particularly in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa) to produce clothes on the spot and export it to America.
- China targets Africa for its clothing exports and this in a more intensive way in the coming years, to face the current backward drop of its world exports (In 2012 , there has been a decrease of 10 %).
By knowing that, I realize that after all that the raid of the Chinese in the wax fabric market is really a delusion, an accessory, just cosmetic, it is the tree which hides the forest. Why so many articles are dedicated to the Chinese wax invasion and counterfeit? Actually, isn’t it just a business issue for the actors playing in that market? Should not we rather pay our attention on what really takes place in the African textile industry and this Chinese control?