Wrenelle Stander, Wesgro CEO, was joined by Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, and the City of Cape Town Mayoral Member for Economic Growth and Tourism, Alderman James Vos, for a ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the retail showcase for the month of October.
To land the Cape’s “region of origin” brand, and born out of the request from local exporters for increased market support and visibility, the market is one of the ways that Wesgro – the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for the province – is assisting Western Cape exporters gain traction in high-visibility areas.
Showcasing premium products from 45 local exporters – all selected from the Cape Trade Portal – the market brings sustainably crafted, premium, proudly Made in the Cape products from around the five regions of the Western Cape to the popular V&A Waterfront.
With the market conveniently situated outside of H&M and Havaianas stores, it will provide maximum exposure for local exporters participating – some of which are from remote regions in the province. Historically, the V&A welcomes up to 2 million domestic and international visitors during the month of October.
Bringing to life the stories of the people, processes and place that make the Cape a unique region of origin, and a sought-after source market for goods and services, the market carefully combines audio, visual and tangible elements, brought to life through augmented reality, to provide a highly immersive retail experience.
Through hero product categories informing the market’s themes, the store layout takes shoppers on a journey through the Cape’s Wine, Design and Floral Kingdom – with unique stories and fun facts shared through immersive storytelling, to deepen the appreciation for the love of local along the way.
“The Made in the Cape brand reinforces values that underpin the Western Cape’s products and services. Through meticulously crafted miniature stage sets, shoppers are given a glimpse into what goes into the products available for purchase, who is behind the craft and why it’s geographically significant. Via prompts at each scene, they’re encouraged to take out their mobile phones and scan the stage sets, where captivating stories are brought to life through augmented reality, reinforcing that if it comes from the Cape, you can expect quality and sustainability,” explained chief marketing and innovation officer, Jean Scheltema.
The space is unique, in that it brings together both the physical and visual – with life-size products displayed directly next to the captivating scenes. Wesgro emphasises the importance of differentiating the experience from the traditional pop-up store format, showcasing destination competitiveness and trade innovation through smart technology incorporated into the traditional brick-and-mortar approach.
With the Cape Trade Portal launched over a year ago, the virtual trade manager and 24/7 matchmaking platform continues to attract local exporters, as well as new buyers from around the globe. Providing a dedicated resource centre, tools, insights and expertise to support Cape sellers on their export journey, the portal is home to more than 1 000 exporters, close to 6 000 products and services, and 277 international buyers.
Stander commented: “Trade innovation is a key focus for Wesgro. Exporters registered on the portal are reaping the rewards of a multi-year effort. Following the success of the highly targeted digital campaigns in key source markets – including the UK and the US – the market forms part of our domestic consumer awareness as well as a drive to on-board new exporters. With the international allure of the V&A Waterfront, we’re giving our products and services centre stage.
Earlier this year, Wesgro hosted the inaugural Made in the Cape 2023 dedicated hosted buyers programme, bringing 31 international buyers to Cape Town to meet with local exporters pre-selected by each buyer using the portal. The event was highly successful, with 520 B2B meetings with 269 exporters completed over the three-day programme. Significant export deals were concluded out of the programme, to be realised over the next five years. Applications for Made in the Cape 2024 are now open.
Welcoming the efforts to deepen the seeding of the region of origin brand, Alderman Vos said: “As the City government, we remain committed to building a stronger, more resilient, and inclusive economy. Increasing brand awareness of our local exporters, both internationally and domestically, is key in our quest to fulfilling this commitment. We welcome the efforts of the Made in the Cape Market, providing a catalytic opportunity to on-board more Cape Town exporters to the Cape Trade Portal, and drive further exports from the City.”
Wenger concluded by adding: “Guided by the Western Cape Government’s bold and ambitious economic action strategy, ‘Growth for Jobs’, we are on a mission to enable a R1-trillion, jobs-rich, inclusive and thriving provincial economy that is growing at between 4% and 6% in real terms. One of the key priority areas of this strategy is to drive the expansion of proudly Western Cape exports. We do this because our research shows that if we can increase exports by 10%, we can generate an estimated additional R6 billion to the Western Cape gross domestic product, creating many more jobs in the province.”