Killing the goose that laid the golden egg

Joining the bandwagon became a popular practice that probably started in America. Early settlers banded themselves together for strength when attacked by the “Red skinned” Indians who were merely protecting their ancestral lands. Thus, the term became so popular that it gained the connotation of “engaging in a similar type of business.

In the early 60s up to the early 80s, manufacture, retail and export of Philippine Handicraft delivered much-needed dollars to the Philippine economy. Among the better-known retailers were Tesoro’s in Manila, Rosas Handicrafts in Angeles, and Munsayac’s in Baguio. I remember seeing busloads of tourists flocking the main outlet of Tesoro’s in Ermita.

But every Tom, Dick and Harry wanted their share of the loot. The slice of the pie became smaller and inferior quality products flooded the world market until the handicraft industry reached its peak and fell. The same thing happened to the puka shell industry that once upon a time enriched exporters from Cebu and Iloilo. The same thing happened to prawn farming. The same thing happened to children’s wear and other RTW items.

When people see that a particular business is successful, they tend to venture into the same line of business.

This seems to be happening in the Filipino Community in Sydney. I do not really know which one came in first but I heard of Sandigan News, The Philippine Voice, The Philippine Community Herald, Bayanihan News, Philippine Tribune, Philippine Sentinel, News Pinoy and Kalatas, which is the latest entrant into the growing market. There is also The Filipino Australian which is an internet-based virtual newspaper.

With the exception of a few dailies like The Sydney Morning Herald and The Telegraph, most local newspapers are distributed free. Cost of printing is derived from advertisements and that is where fierce competition now exists.

Market Intelligence has compelled some sort of rate standardization among three older monthly newspapers. No cartel has actually been established but sneaky espionage has somehow led to uniform pricing. Some favored advertisers continue to enjoy special rates but the new entrants, desperate to penetrate the market, have started offering free advertising. This is of course to the delight of some businesses who themselves are struggling to stay alive.

Offering free advertising space may not necessarily be a sound marketing strategy. Unless the person is a Bill Gates or a Rupert Murdoch, there is always a limit to one’s financial capacity. Except for credit card issuers, very few banks are willing to provide unsecured credit based on a feasibility or project study.

Is it laissez-faire or is it abhorrent practice of client piracy? Where do we draw the line between business ethics and cutthroat competition? Only time will tell. It is time to separate the real men from the boys.

In the process, we might be killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Dino Crescini

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