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TONI THORNE: Market too saturated


TONI THORNE: Market too saturated

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NINE YEARS AGO, I went to carnival in Jamaica and thoroughly enjoyed activities hosted by the famed Bacchanal Jamaica, Frenchmen and Bazodee.

One of the most vivid memories I have from that trip was a fete in Portmore I attended with now Minister of State, Floyd Green, where hundreds of people daggered (jukking) to the point where I was convinced the Lord was going to come for his world and he was going to find me amongst daggerers – neither in a church nor in my bed.

The Jamaican Jouvert and Costume day were as the Jamaicans say,“likkle but tallawah”. It wasn’t as developed as Crop Over but there was an energy to it that I find is almost always lost as carnivals develop.

I travelled three weeks ago to Jamaica for what is now being dubbed as “Carnival in Jamaica”. I was invited by the hot, new band Xaymaca to jump with them in a gorgeous frontline costume. Xaymaca’s partnership and endorsement from the gurus, Tribe Carnival, intrigued me.

I stupsed at snide remarks about Carnival in Jamaica being reserved for the “elite” and chuckled at an article I read last year, where upon leaving carnival, a young woman was told that she should leave carnival activities to the “uptown people”.

Bajans went to Jamaica in the dozens. Unlike my fellow countrymen, I didn’t have the time, energy or money to be attending three and four fetes in one day for a five-day period.

It was interesting to note, that the first fete to sell out for Carnival in Jamaica was allegedly MEDZ which was hosted by a Bajan, Kaddesh Preston. Barbadian brands like Roast and Krave penetrated the carnival with both brands having sections in Bacchanal Jamaica and Xaymaca respectively. Roast also had a foreday-like cruise, similar to what Puff of Colour originally was.

Regional brands like Scorch, Caesars Army and Private Ryan’s Soca Brainwash were key attractions and I am continually amazed by the way in which millennial Trinidadians have packaged their products and are headed for global domination. My partying at Caesars Army Jamaica made its way into a Bunji Garlin video and my mother was needless to say, unimpressed.

While in Jamaica, someone sent an unofficial Crop Over calendar and my bank account had an immediate panic attack. “How Bajans gonna afford to go to all dese fetes?” Then again, we could do like my grandmother says and “always stay home” because “nuhbody ain’t send we nuh way”.

In my childhood neighbourhood, there was a gentleman who unfortunately was incontinent. His pants was always saturated. Well, good people of Barbados, Crop Over is more saturated than that.

The more I discuss this with people, the more it becomes clear that we don’t understand the concept of diseconomies of scale. There is a point at which the more money you make, the less returns, due to exceeding one’s optimal result.

While Jamaican entrepreneur Andrew Bellamy teased that Jamaica is “coming for” Barbados, I took him seriously. I, like many other cultural practitioners, take great pride in Crop Over and the many developments over the last ten years. However, I want to warn that there are certain elements we must be aware of in the face of development.

Eight bands targeting the same demographic is an example of diseconomies of scale. Three and four events in one day targeting the same demographic is an example of diseconomies of scale. Yes, the cream will always rise to the top. However, when a market becomes saturated to the point that there are more promoters than an actual client base: “Houston, we have a problem.”

Did Jamaica have the infiltration of “outside” brands? Yes. Was there more than one event in a day? Yes. However, it was not saturated and I enjoyed that just as much as the dub music playing in intervals. At one point, I looked around and saw people casually smoking weed on the jump. One person told me that was their favourite aspect of Jamaica carnival. I, on the other hand, am not one for all the ‘collie’ blowing up in my face. Instant dizziness, but who am I to judge?

Perhaps we Bajans need to continue assessing Crop Over and our competitive advantage because the other regional carnivals are developing at a fast pace. Just as I am wrapping up this article, I receive a message with another new event for Foreday. However, that is another topic for next Sunday. Have a blessed day!  

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email: [email protected]