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Wednesday, 07 December 2016 08:44

Digital brings deeper understanding of SA consumers

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Marketers are in a race to better understand the customer through data and experiences on digital marketing channels. Once this deeper knowledge of consumers has been achieved, digital communication will be less noisy and more effective. This is the view of Zibusiso Mkhwanazi (33) – recently named by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and a founder of Avatar, a Johannesburg-based integrated marketing agency. In an interview published in the current issue of the ‘IMM Journal of Strategic Marketing’, the magazine of the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM), he says this is especially true when it comes to understanding young black consumers. “Speaking to them in language they understand does not mean translating English into vernacular languages or tweeting in isiZulu. It means that the strategy and big idea should be thoroughly tested so that it resonates and creates truly meaningful experiences,” Mkhwanazi observes. Looking to the future, he predicts that technology will play an even bigger role in the communication mix. “This means that there will be a big technology skills requirement, even at CMO level on the client side. I don’t foresee the title of digital manager lasting very long because every brand manager will be just that, and more,” he says. Equally important in the industry is building agencies that transcend outmoded above-the-line and below-the-line thinking. The traditional demarcation between marketing’s lines of ‘above’ and ‘below’ are not relevant anymore, Mkhwanazi states. Born in Soweto and raised in a township on the East Rand, he is entrepreneurial at heart and co-founded a Web design company at the age of 17. After several career twists and turns, he and a partner started Avatar in 2012. The company now employs more than 60 people.
In another indication of the efforts being made by South African banks to differentiate themselves using technology, Nedbank has introduced what it claims is the world’s second – and Africa’s first – interactive ATM machine. This transforms a conventional ATM into an interactive on-screen banking session with a human teller, who is situated in a remote location, at any time of the day or night. Customers can talk to the teller via a video link and do complex banking transactions at times when physical bank branches are closed for business. “It also enables branch staff, who we call service champions, to have a real-time view of client detail, and allows clients to experience a more personalised interaction when transacting at our self-service devices,” Nedbank says in a statement. “We are committed to providing clients with [innovations] that create safe, convenient and memorable client experiences. This cutting-edge device provides clients with an additional channel to engage a teller,” notes Brian Duguid, Managing Executive for Integrated Channels. The interactive ATM also has security features such as built-in ID and signature authentication. According to Duguid, in a world fuelled by constantly evolving technology it is important that the bank offer its clients a choice of channels most suited to their requirements. A recent study of social media-based customer sentiment around South Africa’s banks found that Capitec (just under 40%) carried the most positive sentiment, followed by Nedbank (also just under 40%). They are followed by Standard Bank (33%), FNB (25%) and Absa (24%). “Although positive sentiment surrounding other banks spiked in response to specific campaigns … Capitec retained a clear, consistent lead,” research company BrandsEye said.
Given the large number of young people as a percentage of the overall African population, the continent’s marketers need to be acutely aware of the attitudes and expectations of Generation Z consumers – those aged approximately 5-20. ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’, the magazine of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC), reports in its latest issue (Issue 4 2016) that this group is being heralded as ‘a game-changing generation’ because of how convincingly influenced it is by technology, most notably the Internet and mobile connectivity. Nigerian market development and business management specialist, Adebayo Alonge, says of Gen Z: “As digital natives, they live in the technology, social media and Internet ecosystem. Since they live in this ecosystem, it cannot be said that they are distracted by it; they simply do not know any other way of life.” He also believes that entrepreneurship is in their DNA. “Nigerian youths do not have ambitions to be owners of banks or to make ‘small money’ in careers as white-collar workers,” he says. “They seek to make wealth quickly by creating things like their own music labels and technology start-ups.” But circumstances obviously vary from country to country within Africa. Addis Alemayehou, a communications and PR expert from Ethiopia, points out that one of the things which distinguish Ethiopian youth from those in other places is limited online activity due to low Internet penetration. So, while members of the country’s Gen Z are eager to participate in social media, it’s not easy to do. Ranjana Foogooa, a Mauritian-based digital marketer, notes that while the island nation has a high level of Internet penetration, there are cultural and lifestyle aspects – including buying power – that limit uptake of mobile-based Internet and social media. However, those Generation Z consumers in Mauritius that do embrace smartphones are important social influencers and will rapidly embrace social media-based marketing messages and promotions.
The desire for near-instant delivery of anything from food to cosmetics and clothing shows no sign of abating. Indeed, one of the world’s biggest cosmetics brands believes that, for time-starved consumers, convenience is the new luxury. “Today’s changing consumer behaviours mean that we have to adapt to the need for instant access to our products and services,” Chris Good, President of Estee Lauder, told the ‘Daily Telegraph’ newspaper this week. “We are constantly looking at new ways to provide greater choice and flexibility.” The global cosmetics brand has launched a new service in the British capital that works via Facebook Messenger to enable shoppers to buy items that will then be delivered anywhere within London in an hour. This ‘convenience is the new luxury’ approach is mirrored by a 2015 consumer trends study by market research company Mintel, which found that consumers have come to expect convenience and immediacy in all of their brand interactions. “As consumer desire continues to deepen and the marketplace becomes more competitive almost daily, we’ve seen that a number of brands of all sizes are starting to offer near-immediate delivery of everything,” the study noted. One example is clothing company Gap, which partnered with a hotel in Chicago to allow guests to shop online at Gap and have items delivered straight to their hotel room. In London, drinkers can order cocktails on demand and a ‘cocktail taxi’ – manned by a professional cocktail maker – will deliver to your door. In the US, people in a rush to get married can hire an on-demand chapel on wheels that can be towed to your home, or any other location that you desire. “As consumer demand intensifies the swiftness with which companies must now act, brands should consider how they can utilise [their own] on-demand services, or partner with existing ones,” recommends Mintel’s Stacy Glasgow.
Thursday, 01 December 2016 07:58

The ethnic doll going from Nigeria to the world

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Entrepreneur Taofick Okoya made headlines when his African dolls outsold the legendary Barbie in his native Nigeria. Now he is focused on the rest of the world, not least the huge North American toy market. ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’, the magazine of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC), reports in its latest issue that Okoya began the Queens of Africa doll collection in 2007 after he could not find a black doll for his niece. Today his company, FICO Solutions Nigeria, has two ranges: Queens of Africa is targeted at both the African and global markets; and the more competitively priced Naija Princesses, which is focused on the local Nigerian market. Apart from the dolls themselves, there are brand extensions such as books, comics, music and an animated series. In 2014, he began exporting to various countries with children of African heritage, and has also created an international online portal. Customers can buy the dolls from the Queens of Africa website, or through global online retailer Amazon in the US and in five other countries. He is also in talks with other e-commerce sites and the brand now has representatives in Senegal and Benin, as well as Europe and Australia. Okoya believes that, so far, Queens of Africa has only scratched the surface. “As people get to know more about our products through word of mouth, sales have grown. But significant future growth is dependent on securing new customers in other parts of the world.” He recently completed a roadshow in the US to meet with potential buyers in an effort to expand the brand footprint. It was, he says, largely driven by a desire to have a meet-and-greet with the dolls’ growing fan base. ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’ is published quarterly and distributed through AMC member organisations. It is also available in selected airline lounges.
In yet another strategy to make the payment process easier for South African retail customers, McDonald’s and social communications app WeChat have joined forces to trial mobile payments at selected restaurant outlets in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Payment is being facilitated by a mobile option called Quick Pay which is claimed to be safe, quick and easy. The system allows customers to generate a WeChat QR code that can then be scanned at point of sale to register a payment. Quick Pay is part of the Mobile Wallet technology unveiled by WeChat in 2015. Like a physical wallet, customers can store their bank cards and make instant cash payments within WeChat. They can also make cash payments to certain merchants. “We are continuously searching for innovative ways to enhance our customer’s experience,” says McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer, Daniel Padiachy. “We believe the partnership enables [us] to provide a modern solution to our customers.” Notes WeChat Africa CEO, Brett Loubser: “Although Quick Pay is innovative, it also offers customers a much faster and easier payment option to traditional payment.” According to research by the National Restaurant Association in the US, quick-service restaurants are more likely to implement high-technology payment solutions than formal sit-down outlets because the latter are driven by speed. This is why online ordering, smartphone apps and mobile payment are more of a focus for them in day-to-day business operations. The association says that technology can clearly help to boost productivity and efficiency in restaurant operations. But it also has to simplify, not complicate, the customer experience.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 07:38

Pick n Pay speeds up service at its tills

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Retailer Pick n Pay has confirmed that it is launching a tap-and-go system at its stores in an effort to speed up the processing of customers and reduce queues at till points. The chain is apparently the first major South African retailer to introduce the system, although it is already popular in many other parts of the world. According to ‘Business Day’ newspaper, last year there were three-billion such transactions in Europe alone. Tap-and-go enables a customer to touch their credit card against a card reader and the transaction is then competed around 30% faster than a typical credit card transaction. Customers do not need to swipe the card, enter a pin or provide a signature. The system can be used for payments under R200. Pick n Pay Deputy CEO, Richard van Rensburg, says the system is easy to use. “You just tap or hover your credit card above the terminal, confirm the amount and the transaction is processed immediately,” he explains. “After a number of years of significant investment, our systems have reached a level of maturity where we are able to introduce an increasing array of innovations that make shopping at Pick n Pay cheaper and more convenient.” The retailer is in the midst of a turnaround strategy and has previously said that innovation and modernisation is critical to its success.