In the South African main market paternalistic attitudes could damage, if not kill, a brand; brands that survive and thrive are the ones who understand that they are not in control of the consumer's destiny. The challenge for brands is to become an integral part of the consumer's life-stages and to stay centred in "the best life, now" scenario.
The once emerging black consumer has been the focal point of many marketing and brand managers in South Africa for the past two decades, a result of the growth and spending power directly proportional to this market segment. Industry continues to be dominated by individuals and brands which want to reach and engage with South Africa's main markets, but either have little or no understanding or ability to connect with them.
One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is distrust of corporate agendas at grassroots level. The great task of any organisation is to find the right people who have the ability to connect on a deeper level with consumers and then build experiences that develop brand loyalty. This includes bridging the gap between the big multinationals and consumers and understanding the layout and landscape of the country to build a brand successfully.
The Zinto Marketing Group, an established brand activation and entertainment company, has been tapping into these markets since inception using a team of talented young people many of whom hail from new suburbs (townships) and provide companies with the insights, means and platforms in which to make direct contact with these markets. They have invested time and effort to understand the nuances of these large communities to find means to close the communication gap and offer activities that these audiences can relate to.
While most brands turn to social media to market their brands, these traditional markets, who are sceptical about the messages of the mass media, crave one-on-one interaction and prefer word-of-mouth.
To win their love you have to use (create if necessary) communication channels that respect and incorporate traditional South African thinking and values.
The communal perspective that Africans have and the importance of storytelling in purchasing decisions and how this influences their buying decisions means that brand encounters are useful spaces where consumers can get involved, exchange relevant information among members and broaden their understanding about brands.
Gaining a large share of voice through local outlets in targeted communities can help create a sense that the brand is at the forefront which is valuable, because status-conscious, emerging-market consumers tend to prefer brands they perceive as leaders.
A company can use branding to create loyalty by a variety of factors, including visual consistency, reliable performances and developing trusting relationships. By tying brand values, mission or purpose into an event that is memorable which consumers can hear, see, taste, touch, or smell will build powerful connections to the brand.
Brand loyalty is built on shared values and to make customers follow through on an intended purchase, buy the product repeatedly and recommend it, brand marketers must simplify consumers' decision making and help them navigate the path to their purchase.
Whether you connect with your consumers in a more intimate setting, or build upon a shared system of beliefs at a larger venue, the scale of the event does not matter as much as defining an event where your customers get to know who you are and what you stand for in comparison to all of the other brands out there.
Brand activation is the consumer's real experience of a brand, product or service; it drives sales and increases brand image and awareness. Rather than telling people about the features of a product or service, brand activation engages the consumer in the process of experiencing the benefits for themselves. This helps individuals connect with a brand and make intelligent and informed purchasing decisions, and when done correctly brand activation is the most powerful tool in winning brand loyalty.
But shared values are about reaching customers on a more personal level and building positive relationships with customers can create word-of-mouth and referrals and those are the ultimate signs of consumer loyalty.
For more information, visit www.zinto.co.zo
or contact Aurelia Masino on 011 706 9600