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Digital is changing the way that the world’s luxury brands are being marketed. A collaboration between exclusive watch brand Hermès and Apple to create the US$1 500 online-enabled Apple Watch Hermès is just one such example. According to a study by consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), digital has not only created new luxury products, it is also changing the way that ultra-wealthy consumers expect to be treated by top-end brands. “Gone are the days when luxury revolved around traditional marketing and face-to-face interactions exclusively at the store,” says BCG. “Not only does the business of luxury now include e-commerce and social media, but it requires brands to ensure much more integration across once-separate departments.” Luxury fashion brand Burberry, for example, a decade ago shifted its entire business strategy to digital. “Burberry makes full use of technology to ensure a rich experience both online and at the store. It is a master of social media marketing and storytelling, as proven by more than 42-million followers across 20 global platforms. Recent partnerships with Snapchat, Google, DreamWorks Animation, Instagram and Apple TV have allowed the company to interact with its audience globally,” note the researchers. Burberry was also one of the first high-end brands to turn its fashion shows into digital media occasions. The company uses the buzz around the events to excite its customer base, strengthen relationships with existing customers, and entice new ones. Also using digital strategies to enhance its interaction with the marketplace is French luxury fashion label Louis Vuitton. It has been winning plaudits for its digital customer experience and for engaging with consumers through its City Guides travel app. The app provides useful information about upmarket hotels and restaurants, as well as trendy cultural districts and night life in some of the world’s top cities.
With South Africa’s water crisis attracting ongoing public attention, washing powder brand Sunlight and water tank manufacturer JoJo have joined forces to create a campaign that will see 80 portable water tanks donated to drought-hit communities around the country. As part of the promotion, which carries the hashtag ‘#SunlightSavesWater’, a 10-metre high yellow billboard made up of all 80 tanks has been erected on the N1 Highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Each week, people are invited to nominate and vote – via Facebook and radio – for the communities they feel most need water tanks. Two tanks per week will then be removed from the billboard and donated. The aim is to assist communities that lack running water in homes and must rely on fast-disappearing local dams and rivers for their water supply. ‘#SunlightSavesWater’ is also being used as a platform to promote relaunched Sunlight 2in1 washing powder with SmartFoam. The company claims the product enables households to save up to half the required rinsing water. In a press release, Sunlight says it wanted to “create a campaign that would generate interest on a large scale, resonate with ordinary South Africans, and help to amplify the water-scarcity and water-saving message. The billboard is, therefore, not just for show or to create awareness, but to assist communities in need too.” The brand is also involved in a push-tap installation programme in the city Johannesburg to help save water. A push-tap allows water to be released only when the pressure of the hand is placed on the tap.
After winning a combined total of 32 awards; including four top-level Grand Prix awards – KFC, Chicken Licken and Nando’s have emerged as the top three brands on the Loeries Official Rankings for 2016. Following its success at the Loeries Creative Week held in Durban in August, Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg was named the number one agency The Loeries is a not-for-profit organisation that recognises and rewards creative excellence in the brand communications industry. It began as a South African-focused initiative but now welcomes participation from across Africa and the Middle East. The Official Rankings aim to provide an authoritative and independent indication of who’s who in the industry for that year. Rankings are calculated on a methodology that allocates points to brands, agencies and individuals, based on results from the Creative Week judging. Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg and Cape Town took the top two positions in the large agency table, while Net#work BBDO received the highest ranking amongst medium-sized agencies, and FoxP2 took the honours as the top small agency. In line with the overall agency winners, Ogilvy & Mather’s Pete Case was named top Chief Creative Officer, with Mike Schalit from Net#work BBDO coming in second. DDB’s Liam Wielopolski took third place, followed by Joe Public’s Pepe Marais in fourth. Memac Ogilvy’s Paul Shearer rounding out the top five. Thabisa Mkhwanazi and Mike Middleton, both of KFC, emerged as the top two brand representatives, followed by George Sombonos of Chicken Licken. Hloni Mohope (KFC) and Bradley Knowles (Ster-Kinekor) make the top five. From the region excluding South Africa, TBWA\RAAD from the United Arab Emirates ranked as the top agency. J Walter Thompson KSA from Saudi Arabia took second place.
South Africa’s low-income earners are largely resigned to their current circumstances and believe they will not achieve their aspirations due to debt, lack of education, high unemployment and few job advancement opportunities. These are among the findings of the 2016 Aspiration Report released by the University of Cape Town’s Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing. The results are based on an 18-month study that included interviews with several thousand consumers across the country and from all economic groups. Many employed black consumers also believe they are being held back by so-called ‘black tax’ – the expectation that those who have good jobs will assist extended family members who are unemployed or very low earners. According to the Unilever Institute, the study reveals a crisis of aspiration versus income. When South Africans don’t achieve their aspirations, they enter a world of frustration that results in a sense of resignation and desperation. “At the end of the day it’s all about money, with a huge gap locally between the ‘have nots’ and the ‘have lots’. The most income volatility is in the middle of the spectrum, with the new ‘missing middle’ class having studied but not found a job. So while the world of the ‘have nots’ is filled with uncertainty and many ups and downs, for ‘have lots’ it’s about following a fairly predictable life path,” said the Institute’s Professor John Simpson. For many of the ‘have nots’, their aspirations were leading to increased debt – often unsecured – to fund education, start small businesses or buy furniture and other items for RDP homes. This debt spiral was often difficult to get out of, as most of the little money they earned went to paying off the debt.
Are pre-cooked, high-quality ‘home-made’ meals for busy families going to be the next big thing in the South African food sector? Industry giant Famous Brands certainly thinks so and has bought a 49% stake in By Word of Mouth, a specialist Johannesburg catering business. By Word of Mouth offers event and other catering, but also has expertise in home meal replacement – a service that is growing in many parts of the world, where people want pre-prepared healthy meals that feel home-cooked. Famous Brands envisages leveraging this expertise to establish high-end stand-alone By Word of Mouth stores offering bespoke products. "This retail business model will resemble the hugely successful COOK company in the UK, which produces ready-made meals using ingredients and techniques that a good cook would use at home to ensure meals look and taste home-made,” said Famous Brands’ Kevin Hedderwick. “I am particularly excited about the growth prospects of this component of the business because there is a strong and growing demand for an offering of this kind in the economically resilient upper-end of the South African market.” UK-based COOK has 84 outlets located across England, Scotland and Wales. “In them you’ll find our full range of frozen ready meals, entertaining food, puddings and cakes,” the company says. It adds that it “uses the same ingredients and techniques that a good cook would use at home, so all our food looks and tastes home-made.” By Word of Mouth was founded in 1993 and employs more than 200 people. This is the first foray into the sector by Famous Brands, which operates a range of food-based franchises, including Steers, Wimpy, Tashas and Mythos. According to a Canadian study, demand for home meal replacement products has risen 17% in recent years, while growth in quick-service and full-service restaurants has been stagnant.
Whereas traditional customer service complaints and interactions were handled via email, call centres or face-to-face contact, the age of social media has opened up a range of new ways for businesses to deal with client queries, concerns and complaints. Millennial and Generation Z consumers, in particular, tend to feel more comfortable dealing with businesses in this manner. Facebook has been a common platform for this process, with many organisations preferring to take the client interaction ‘offline’ once the initial public contact has been made – particularly when dealing with complaints or matters of a more personal nature. Not wanting to miss out on the action, Twitter has now added a Direct Message (DM) function that businesses can place on their website and which enables private two-way interaction between customer and organisation on Twitter. “Direct Messages are the private side of Twitter, and the message button makes it easy to start a private conversation with you,” noted Senior Product Marketing Manager at Twitter, Jeff Lesser, in a recent website post that announced the new service. “It works best when your (a company’s) account settings allow you to receive Direct Messages from anyone, whether or not they follow you.” Says the technology website ‘Venturebeat’: “Where this will come in handy is in customer service, especially if you’re trying to buy something or have questions. What Twitter doesn’t want you to do is to not even consider Twitter when you have feedback.” However, Irish digital marketing expert Cathal Quinn cautions that businesses which encourage increased customer interaction via social media need to be prepared to meet the expected level of response. He points to recent research indicating that 32% of customers expect to get a response from the business within 30 minutes and 42% of people expect a response within 60 minutes.
Monday, 03 October 2016 08:17

Kia gives another boost to African car buyers

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In another boost for the emerging African car industry, South Korean auto company Kia has confirmed that it is to assemble passenger vehicles in Ethiopia and is also considering other plants elsewhere on the continent. The announcement comes just weeks after Volkswagen said it would be producing the Polo Vivo small passenger car in Kenya in an effort to achieve more market penetration for the brand in East Africa. Both moves are good news for consumers and the regional economy, as well as an affirmation of faith in Africa’s future growth by two of the world’s biggest automotive brands. Speaking in Addis Ababa recently, senior Kia executive Soon Nam Lee told Reuters news agency: “It is important to penetrate the African market. We are also looking at the prospects of opening similar plants in Algeria and other countries.” The company already has a plant in Nigeria. The Ethiopian project is a joint venture with local company Belayab Motors and 3 000 vehicles a year will be produced, with the potential to rise to 9 000 depending on demand. According to Reuters, Ethiopia produces about 8 000 commercial and other vehicles a year for the home market, about a quarter of which are cars. Among those present are Chinese brands Lifan and Geely. Speaking at the announcement of Volkswagen’s new assembly plant in Kenya in mid-September, VW executive Thomas Schafer noted: “We believe that Kenya has got the potential to develop a very big fully-fledged automotive industry. The East African Community has got the potential and today is the first step in this direction that we want to take with our passenger cars.” South Africa is the biggest producer of vehicles on the continent, with many of those being exported to other parts of Africa.