11 Shocking Facts & Statistics about ‘Brand Jamaica’

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While doing research for Repositioning Brand Jamaica: A Social Media Approach, the paper I will be presenting at the inaugural Brand Jamaica symposium this month, I came across some seriously depressing facts and statistics about our beloved country.

Grouped together, they paint a picture of a country headed for disaster, unless we do something about it.


Brand Jamaica

  1. ‘Brand Jamaica’ is estimated to be worth between US$33 – 35 billion, but the island loses about US$20 billion of this economic value due to increasing problems with trademarking Jamaican products overseas. (Source)
  1. In most countries across the world, any third party can register a trademark a product with the name ‘Jamaica’ with no association with the country. (Source)

Murder Rate

  1. Jamaica has the sixth highest murder rate in the world, according to the 2013 Global Study on Homicide report. (Source)


  1. The country ranks 85 out of 175 countries on the Corruption Perception Index, which ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. (Source)


  1. In 2006, TIME Magazine dubbed Jamaica ‘the most homophobic place on Earth’. This article is still referenced today. (Source)
  1. A recent documentary, “Young and Gay: Jamaica’s Gully Queens” highlights the struggles of the LGBT community in Jamaica, also gained significant attention, but representatives of the country have not acknowledged or responded to the issues raised in the film. (Source)


  1. While there was overall growth experienced by most of the countries closest to Jamaica with similar tourism offerings (Bahamas, Cuba, Dominic Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico) between 2008 – 2013, Jamaica experienced a decline in year over year growth. (Source: World Bank)

tourism receipts graph

Economic Performance

  1. Jamaica is one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world, with real per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increasing at an average of approximately one percent per year over the past 30 years. (Source)
  1. The debt to GDP ratio, which was estimated to be about 140% at the end of the 2014/15 fiscal year, is also among the highest in the developing world. (Source)

Financial Well-Being

  1. Jamaica’s financial well-being is the lowest in the Caribbean region, ranking 115 on the Financial Well-Being Index out of 145 countries, below Haiti (109) and Greece (113). (Source)


  1. Unemployment has consistently risen since 2008, with a high of 16.5% of the workforce unemployed in 2013 and youth unemployment more than twice the national rate. (Source)
kenishia mais

This Jamaican Entrepreneur Started Her Business with US$6 – Here’s Her Story

Solopreneur Advice, Working Online

kenishia maisIf you check out Accessories & Essentials online (go ahead, click here), it will seem like just another start-up online store. When you hear that this store is the brainchild of a 22 year-old Jamaican, who built this business from scratch with JMD$600 (US$6 at the time), then it starts to mean something more.

Since high school, Kenishia Mais knew that owning a business was the path she wanted to take. As a result, her subject choices were all geared in this direction. After school, she took on day jobs in several business and marketing areas to gain some work experience and stability. Her last job ended abruptly and she realized that it wasn’t stable after all. She was ready to pursue her own ventures.

So how did she start a business with US$6?

Her method is highly recommended by some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. It is also the focus of Chris Guillebeau’s popular book, The $100 Startup. She bought the first few items, sold them to friends and colleagues, then used the earnings to fuel more purchases and income.

Allowing the business to grow organically confirmed her market before she invested major resources and minimized risk. This was an intelligent move on her part, yet she had limited knowledge about ‘bootstrapping’. (Bootstrapping is the method of building a self-sustaining business.) She only knew that building a profitable business was her goal and she had limited resources. So she ploughed through and figured things out on her own along the way.

Running the Business

Many business experts recommend creating a business plans first. Kenishia believes she would have abandoned Accessories & Essentials had she done this. Instead, her ‘see it through’ attitude forced her to continue going, even when things weren’t going well. According to her, “if and when things get really tough, wine helps.” (As the host of a podcast called ‘Social Media: Under the Influence’, I’m also a big proponent of alcohol.)

Though the business has come a far way, it’s still young and primed for growth. To fund the business, Kenishia has other online ventures. She also offers consultation and project management services on a referral basis. The latter she is able to do because of her experience in setting up her own business. Her work day activities include managing inventory, processing orders and marketing, among other things. With no employees, she executes all the daily tasks, but sometimes enlists help through contractors on freelance sites like oDesk.


Of course, with all the effort that Kenishia has put in, she has had a few challenges along the way. When I asked her what her biggest challenges are in operating an online business in Jamaica, here’s what she had to say:

The most difficult part of doing business in Jamaica is that most people seem to have a limited comfort zone. Things that are pretty standard in other countries are unheard of in Jamaica. We’re constantly playing catch-up, and when you’re doing that, you’re not innovating.

When running a business online, the most difficult aspects are proper positioning and building trust in your brand. You need that if you’re going to ask people to give you their credit card and personal identity information. It requires a lot of trust, and trust and credibility takes a lot of time to build.

With all that said, she is still appreciative of all the benefits running an online store has brought:

My online store is never closed. Customers can log on and make their purchases at their own convenience, wherever in the world they are. Within a week of launching Accessories & Essentials’ website, I had visitors from countries I’ve never visited. Not a lot of brick and mortars can boast that kind of diverse and international [appeal].


For persons who want to start a business, she advises, “Just get off your ass and do it!” Research is important, but it’s the implementation that counts. It’s easy to get bogged down with varying opinions and theories. At some point, you just have to make a decision and move forward.

Kenishia also believes in continuous education – which is why she makes time to read business blogs and books. These keep her updated on the latest industry-related news. Some of her favourites include Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Wall Street Journal and Kissmetrics. Her inspiration and motivation comes from speakers such as Zig Ziglar and Les Brown. She swears that The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene and The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco changed her life. (I haven’t read them yet but they’re next on my list after that recommendation!)

Future Plans

As for future plans, she doesn’t have everything all figured out yet. Her aim is to grow Accessories & Essentials into the premiere regional online ladies’ boutique. She also plans to establish a few other ventures. As for life plans, she’s just taking things one step at a time.

To get in touch with Kenishia, you can check out her Facebook page or send her a tweet. Don’t forget to check out Accessories & Essentials and like them on Facebook.


What Marketers Can Learn From ATL’s #TiguanSummer Social Media Campaign

Social Media

Have you noticed the #tiguansummer hashtag on your timeline lately? It keeps popping up on mine, so I couldn’t help but delving a bit deeper to find out what it’s all about.

Many will remember a couple years ago when they did the ATL Group Unbeatable Flash Mobs in Half Way Tree, New Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

This year, ATL Automotive has undertaken the Endless Summer of Tiguan campaign (hashtag: #TiguanSummer) to promote their 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan midsize SUV to Jamaican young professionals.

Along with the standard traditional push through newspapers, radio and television advertising, ATL is using the social media sphere to get the word out. They chose to rely less on their own social channels and spread the message through key influencers among their target audience – very smart!

Here are some of the key elements that contributed to this campaign’s success and how you can use them in your own marketing campaign:

Make your campaign innovative, yet practical

At the risk of sounding cliché, there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to promoting your brand. What ATL does, which works tremendously for them, is to use strategies that have worked outside of Jamaica and include their own unique spin. For this campaign, they took the approach of engaging bloggers and popular persons on social media and paired in with an islandwide tour, something they are known for when launching a new car or campaign.

Bring your product to your audience

If Mohammed won’t go to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed. (Yet another cliché, LOL.) ATL’s target group for the Volkswagen Tiguan is millennial Jamaicans. This generation may not be reading newspapers and watching local television everyday – but they are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram chatting up a storm, which brings me to my next point…

Use influencers to spread your message

Buyers trust people, not brands. (I’m on a roll with these clichés.) Brands have an agenda – no matter how friendly and funny they appear, their mission at the end of the day is to sell. On the other hand, bloggers and social media influencers (persons with an engaged following) have built a reputation on being a trustworthy source of information among their peers. A brand recommendation from persons with a large social media following, such as Chunchi (5800+ followers on Twitter), IrieDiva (2400+ on Twitter), Natalie Oh (8800+ followers on Instagram) and Natasha Chang (2300+ on Instagram) are likely to bring much more goodwill than a post from the ATL Automotive page itself.

Waiting on the #bae, we bout to ride out in our Tiguan 😁#tiguansummer #atljamaica @atlautomotive

A photo posted by Monique IrieDiva Solomon 🌴🍸 (@iriediva) on

Allow influencers to customize the message (loosen the reigns)

ATL’s first move was to invite the above-mentioned persons to the launch of the Endless Summer of Tiguan Campaign at their Kingston showroom. From there, they invited them to post a message to their social media audience and offered an incentive to do so. Besides the hashtag, they gave no indication of what to share – this allowed persons to customize their message according their own voice and audience. Since the #tiguansummer campaign would head to Mandeville, they invited blogger @imajumaican (Natalie Outar) to join them on their Friday Night Crawl. Since Natalie is a fashion blogger, she chose to share the outfits she wore to the launch and the Friday Night Crawl to her followers on Instagram – check out the engagement she got on those posts…

People can spot the difference between genuine posts and corporate speak or ’crafted messages’. Allow influencers, who know their audience well, to use their voice in spreading your message.

Set up a home page with all posts and a call-to-action

This is something I haven’t seen but would love to see from this campaign. While they have gotten a significant amount of exposure, it’s essential to provide their new audience with a next step for persons who want to take it further – get more information about the campaign and the vehicle they are promoting. (Car sales have a long buying process so persons are usually taken through several steps before the actual car purchase.)

One of the best ways to keep persons engaged and take them to the next phase is to offer a web page link which provides more information about the campaign and other influencer-generated content that might be able to influence a purchase decision even further. If you don’t have the budget to code a whole page, consider using a free tool like Rebel Mouse which pulls in all the content from around the web using a specific hashtag – and you can add your own message to the mix (see this one from CaribWatch as an example).

With that said, there is still time for ATL into introduce a final phase of this campaign. Rumour has it they are headed to my home city, Montego Bay, later this week to showcase the VW Tiguan and do their own Friday Night Crawl throughout the city’s hot spots. I’d love to go check it out and see what it’s about. (If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!)


Featured Image: JaTuner