According to the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), competition is intense in South Africa, which has more than 25 million square metres of retail space. The MSCI South Africa Quarterly Retail Trading Density Index for the quarter that ended March 2019 concluded that while the amount spent per local shopper is currently growing at a rate just below inflation, foot count per square metre continues to decline.
Yet a segment of South African retail – township and regional shopping malls – seems to be bucking the trend. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) retail companies explain why they are backing this category for growth.
Township and rural for the win
‘I would advocate for a higher percentage of brownfield site redevelopment or retail improvements on current centres to be targeted at township and rural areas,’ said Itumeleng Mothibeli, managing director of Southern Africa at Vukile Property Fund. ‘As things stand, with one of the highest mall/GDP per capita ratio in the world, I don’t think anyone should be advocating for the need to develop more retail centres in South Africa.’
Fairvest Property Holdings is also backing this category for retail. The company owns a R3.16bn portfolio of 42 retail centres, which cater mostly for lower-income shoppers in townships and rural areas close to commuter networks. Fairvest reported a dividend that increased 7.9% in the six months to June 2019.
Vukile Property Fund holds 52% of its retail in rural and township assets. Mothibeli says this segment has shown stronger growth in the past 12 months than the portion of their retail centres located in urban locations. Trading densities for the Vukile Township portfolio are close to R10,000/sqm higher per annum on an aggregated basis than that of its urban portfolio. Township and rural areas are definitely showing more growth.
‘There are many reasons that drive this, but primarily at the supply level, the urban context has a greater number of shopping centres per catchment. Catchments in the township context are also more densified, which when combined with an asset on a commuter route, gives the assets much more critical mass,’ Mothibeli explained.
Fairvest Property Holdings CEO Darren Wilder said Fairvest’s focus on a differentiated sector of the market and its ‘unrelenting drive to excel at property fundamentals’ has allowed its investors to reap the rewards of consistency. Although consumers remain under pressure during 2019, he said that South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) data shows that trading density growth has been positive for eight consecutive months.
‘Smaller formats such as community and neighbourhood centres have recorded growth of 2.5%, after a sharp decline in 2017,’ said Wilder. ‘The vacancy rate of these centres has been lower than that of other types of centres since mid 2018. Fairvest’s vacancy rate was 4% of the total lettable area as at June 2019.’
‘Community-centric regional malls are in the community and from the community,’ said Wilder. So customer engagement occurs more regularly. ‘Landlords and tenants at these shopping centres therefore have the advantage of much greater awareness and sensitivity to consumer and community needs and preferences.’
They also have more flexibility and willingness to cater for the needs of alternative traders around their shopping centres through innovation. ‘These might include providing trading space and upgraded facilities to informal traders in proximity to the shopping mall, and/or providing the opportunity to sell vendor produce through established retailing channels such as food anchor tenants, both of which Fairvest has initiated in our shopping malls.’
Mothibeli said centres must exist as part of the community and not as an island. Operational times of malls also play a role. He suggests looking to spaza shops for direction. ‘There are about 100,000 competitive spaza shops in South Africa – some close at 10pm.’ Malls, for the most part, are only open during general business hours.
He added that shoppers from townships and rural areas mostly use public transport and get to their neighbourhoods long after malls have closed. ‘Is this customer-centric? Township malls should operate as part of their communities and understand locality nuances, just as the informal sector does.’
Zubeida Goolam, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Brandtruth//DGTL, says lite versions of mobile applications or apps have become increasingly popular across Africa and many other parts of the developing world, because these have smaller installation footprints, and use less data compared to the regular app versions.
Africa has a tremendous mobile adoption rate, with GSMA’s The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2019 report stating that the continent will have around 623 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025. That represents approximately half the population, and is an increase from the 456 million (44% of the population) in 2018.
These smart mobile devices are employed for a range of features, from mobile banking and accessing digital services, to staying in touch with family and friends through social media, or remittance payments. As such, smartphones are also the main and only connection many of these users have to the internet, with the World Bank asserting that less than one out of every three people across Africa has access to broadband connectivity.
With relatively high local data costs, app usage is dependent on data depletion, and apps that burn through gigs at lightning speed are often deleted or sit on the second page of users’ home-screens. Lite apps however, are designed for markets with still-developing infrastructure. These apps use less memory to store large data sums, are able to fully function in low connectivity settings, use less data and are less demanding on a smartphone’s battery. While some add-on features may not be available, the key app functions still work as optimally as they do on the regular app.
At Brandtruth//DGTL research shows our digital consumers crave quick, functional and highly-interactive and engaging content. It is however important to keep in mind the target audiences using the lite versions when creating content. Going lite isn’t cutting corners on extras, but accelerating on core purpose and delivering on that without breaking the data bank.
More features and less data usage bill problems
Many cult-apps have taken this approach. For example, Uber lite (which is available within markets like South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and parts of Latin America) is a simpler version of the regular Uber app that has been designed to work on most Android smartphones and is easier to use for those who are not tech-savvy.
Moreover, this lite version saves space for users with limited internal storage space on their mobile devices since it is a 9.7 MB download compared to 56 MB on the regular Uber app and uses less data for the same comparative features across the main app.
Another crucial benefit for areas of limited connectivity is the fact that this application can be used without Wi-Fi or a particularly strong 4G LTE (or even 3G connection) and also aren’t as taxing on a smartphone’s battery life as some regular apps.
Facebook also reacted to the rising popularity of lite app versions by making the Facebook lite and Messenger lite apps available within select markets, as has Google through the lite versions of its popular mobile offerings such as Google Maps Go, and Spotify lite, which is available in 37 markets across the globe (including South Africa). Like the Uber lite app, the Facebook lite app can support continuous usage by users where connectivity is highly limited, even working at 2G speeds. This, while the application still offers all of the classic features of Facebook including sharing to a timeline, liking photos, searching for people and editing a user profile and groups.
The Facebook lite Messenger app installs a lot quicker compared to the regular one and is well suited to data-sensitive users at a download of less than 10MB. It has consistently appeared in the Top 10 local app downloads list of the Google Play Store, along with more recently – the lite version of the popular TikTok app.
Ultimately, the lite version of apps is here to stay and can enable companies to significantly boost the popularity of their applications across the developed world thanks to all of the benefits: smaller download footprint, using less data and working in places with limited connectivity and download speed. Although these apps are significantly smaller than the regular apps that they are based on, they should not be light on features and functionality, if these are to guarantee a significantly higher user take-up rate.
Modern Marketing attended the launch of Wavemaker’s Teenage Research Report on 14 October, where Delia Van Staden, Head of Analytics and Insight at Wavemaker, unpacked some valuable insights about the gatekeepers of modern and future trends.
This online research study is a collaboration project between MediaCom, Mindshare and Wavemaker and was conducted using their proprietary consumer panel, LIVE Panel, to unpack the opinions of 8 000+ teenagers (aged 13 – 17 years) across 18 global markets, of which South Africa was one. The sample size was split equally between girls and boys, and all the teenagers were recruited and interviewed under parental guidance using an online questionnaire.
Benefitting from the agencies’ experience in audience planning and understanding of consumer sentiment, the authors of this report have designed this framework to inform media planning for this key target group.
As part of GroupM’s Live Panel, this report provides important insights into the behaviours of tomorrow’s trendsetters. The report shows that today’s teenagers are positive about life and have strong, personal and highly individual aspirations. They prioritise having a job they love over any need to conform to expectations. However, growing up with the consequences of a global recession means these ambitions are underpinned by a strong need for financial security and realism.
The combination of their digital prowess and focus on money/security means that teens are highly informed, self-reliant and extremely savvy decision-makers. They have a thirst for knowledge and actively spend time researching information online to stay up-to-date and maximise every penny they spend.
Brands have nowhere to hide when winning the hearts and minds of teens. They must be transparent, trusted, deliver on individual lifestyle preferences and, above all, represent, and actively demonstrate, the values that are important to teenagers. Nike, Adidas, Apple and Samsung have all achieved this and are globally loved.
Today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s trendsetters. They have grown up surrounded by digital technology, the consequences of a global recession and new-world terrorism (and now Coronavirus). Although most teenagers are still (fairly) dependent upon parents or guardians, this environment has significantly affected their opinions and attitudes in life, which in turn will guide their media consumption, purchasing behaviour and attitudes towards brands and institutions.
They have identified seven personality archetypes within their study. These archetypes are not mutually exclusive, meaning the average teenager can have multiple personas.
1. Confident aspirers
They are highly aspirational and already thinking about their career; enjoy pushing themselves and taking on new challenges and do not need approval from friends or family for decision-making. Instead, life decisions are based on what is right for them. They highly value education but are concerned about cost.
2. Self-assured rebels
They are satisfied with their life right now and confident in who they are. Culture and tradition are important to them, but they also like to push boundaries and rules. Overall, it is important that others think well of them.
3. Socially-aware butterflies
Maintaining an online social image that receives views and likes is important to them, but they are also cautious about what they post in case it offends others or negatively affects them in the future. Online bullying is also a concern.
4. Virtual virtuosos
They are very heavy and and highly savvy internet users. They are comfortable protecting their online privacy, blocking adverts and not taking everything at face value, although they can be shocked by what people share. They are happier using online spaces to share their emotions.
5. Future proofer
They are focused on financial security, both in terms of saving money for the future and ensuring it is always spent wisely through heavily researching purchases. They also value ethical brands and companies.
Like to be the first to know about new things (TV programmes, technology, gadgets, etc.) and to be the one that people come to for updates and advice. Adverts and celebrity endorsements are accepted, but only if they are relevant to them directly.
7. Content Addicts
Love all forms of TV/video content and being in front of a screen. They use content as a form of social currency with friendship groups.
Pragmatic, prudent, individual and aspirational
Today’s teenagers are positive about life. 63% said that they are satisfied with life right now – albeit lower than the global average of 69%. They value individual expression and being themselves, not needing to conform to the expectations of others. They have strong personal aspirations in life and are already thinking about the career they would like –having a job they love is a priority (87% agree). Education is key to unlocking employment opportunities, with 70% saying they want to go to university, but the cost is worrying. Their desire for tertiary education is much more significant in South Africa than the 48% global average and the highest across all markets.
Their sense of self and celebration of independence is further evidenced by the fact that only 27% of 16-17-year-olds in South Africa felt it was important to be in a relationship at their age, while 51% actively disagreed with this statement. Teenagers do not need other people or things to define who they are.
Implications for marketers
– Brands should talk to this audience with highly individual messaging.
– Let teenagers shape their own personal experiences that deliver against their own values.
– Messages should be aligned to teenager aspirations, but always ‘keeping things real’.
– Demonstrate that you are on the teenager’s side and communicate values that are increasingly personal.
– Always remember that if you get teen marketing right, you are both building brand image and securing a future pool of consumers. The future focus will then be on retention and loyalty as teenagers transition into adulthood.
– Teenagers want to maximise every penny, so messaging should focus on the ‘return on investment’.
– Brands should balance messaging between brand building and product efficacy, value and benefits.
– Use tactics such as rewarding mobile check-ins and improving the value of loyalty programmes to keep consumers focused on buying your products.
– Brands can develop and strengthen their relationships with teenagers by communicating with them on their own terms and by adhering to their values.
– Allocate budgets to social media and branded mobile applications to allow consumers to create and share brand content.
– Brands must actively speak out about the causes they support for teens to understand what they truly stand for.
– Teenagers spend vast amounts of time on social platforms and respond better to those they see as their peers.
– Influencer marketing targets audiences in the environments they spend time in and approaches them on their level. Therefore, a strong influencer marketing campaign is essential for this audience.
– Marketers need to understand and use the nuances of the role(s) of different celebrities/influencers for the teenager audience.
– Brands should tap into social with authentic content to influence the influencers.
– Target the appointment-to-view programmes and build brand affinity, with relevant, customised sponsorship or product-placement opportunities.
– Tap into second-screening behaviour and create real-time content for them to share with friends and family.
The study was conducted prior to the outbreak of Coronavirus, so the authors have included a view on the impact of the virus on this audience. The everyday life of teenagers has changed exponentially in a matter of weeks, with social distancing, curfews, quarantines, lockdowns and more: a huge impact today and into the future.They know that teenagers are highly aspirational, like to push themselves and take on new challenges.The Coronavirus crisis will be very painful for many. With school closures and cancelled events, many are losing some of the biggest and formative moments of their young lives, such as sporting events, school graduation, matric dances and live music. These are often ‘right-of-passage’ moments that can never be regained. Their loss is devastating.
They also know that teenagers highly value the role of education and therefore many will be concerned about missing out on academic activities and exams that will help them secure further education and employment opportunities. Understandably, many will be wondering how this will affect their futures. This, in turn, may lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety among this age group.
This is further evidenced by a recent study in the US by DoSomething.org, which stated that the top emotions felt by teenagers towards the Coronavirus are frustration (54%) and nervousness (49%).
For more information and to access the full report, contact Wavemaker.
David Jenkins, co-founder of Mickey Llew, states that a Board is typically comprised of C-suite executives from similar industries, as well as legal, accounting and corporate governance experts. However, the dramatically increased impact that online properties, social media and other digital considerations have on operations means that a new non-executive director portfolio needs to be added to the Board: a Director of Digital.
If the role of a company’s Board is to provide oversight, insight and foresight, its members need to be skilled and experienced in diverse disciplines and industry sectors to provide holistic guidance to its executive team.
The online universe is arguably bigger and substantially influential in comparison to the bricks and mortar world, and sincere and meaningful boardroom debate and decision-making can no longer continue without taking digital platforms and events, and their repercussions, into account.
Boards need someone on hand who understands the whole digital ecosystem, as it has become a major strategic pillar in planning for marketing, advertising, sales, distribution, communications and customer engagement – even more so since the global Covid-19 pandemic that has pushed even more consumers away from stores and into online retail.
Furthermore, before customer-centric strategies can even be implemented, a business should understand that there is so much more to playing in the digital playground than having a website. Every step along the digital journey – for brands and their customers – needs to be strategically considered.
For example, many Boards do not understand – at a strategic level – the scale of the impact that the Google context can have on a business. It is not just a search engine. It is the digital highway, and not creating a careful strategy around every point of a brand’s exposure online, and properly setting up systems to mitigate reputational risk, online security, and fake news, is a sure recipe for failure.
Other considerations include legalities surrounding online properties and imagery, and which country’s governance standards apply to those properties, as well as understanding the implications of employees’ online behaviour, and how that intersects with freedom of speech, for example.
Most Boards have sub-committees that investigate, strategise and report back to the main Board, as an effective way to examine and understand complex issues – and having a digital industry expert contributing to discussions around online reputation management will have indirect benefits too.
The Institute of Directors South Africa has highlighted the importance of innovation being a regular agenda item in Board discussions, while also highlighting that social media is a key reputational risk. At the very least, having a Board member on hand to advise colleagues about the governance issues relating to the blurring of personal and professional voices on social media could avoid embarrassment.
At the most, a business with digitally knowledgeable and experienced leadership at its most strategic level could take the lead on the digital highway, outpacing competitors and offering greater value to shareholders than ever before.
10X Investments’ new series of television ads turn the frowns upside down and shows us a way to take back our own futures (and, as the company describes it, 10X them).10X’s Chief Growth Officer, Declan Hollywood said that the company partnered with Rabinowitz and Ari Kruger and his film production company, Sketchbook Studios, to conceptualise the commercials.
Even as South Africa settles into Level 1 lockdown, life without social distancing and curbed personal liberties are difficult to imagine, and we can’t help but worry about what lies around the next corner.
The series of three commercials echoes scenarios from the 80s movie trilogy Back to the Future, with Rabinowitz’s ‘future self’ travelling back in time to deliver a few hard truths – and some softer ones – to his ‘present day self’. A carefully made-up future Nik gives the Nik we know (and the rest of us, as viewers) hope for the future. There is a catch though: you need to be investing smartly in order to have a future worth looking forward to.
Rabinowitz previously co-wrote and starred in 10X’s well-received 2018 campaign, Stop Daylight Robbery. As Hollywood explains, the 10X Your Future campaign blossomed from memories of their earlier collaboration.
‘I was looking through emails when I stumbled across a message from Nik. He was broadcasting some live standup comedy from his home during the lockdown, and that triggered the idea for me,’ said Hollywood. ‘The initial idea was around the lockdown and how we could link this experience to not having enough money saved for retirement and, of course, we wanted to work with Nik again.’
He added, ‘The Stop Daylight Robbery campaigns with Nik were very successful: five viral videos with more than a million views each.’
Hollywood believes that helping South Africans capitalise on the ‘lockdown mindset’, where many people were using the time to re-examine their priorities and values, seemed like a great opportunity.
‘People’s ability or aspirations to live well have been significantly curtailed. One day they are living the quality of life they are used to. Then out of the blue they have severe limitations on what they can do, where they can go and what they can spend their money on,’ Hollywood continued. ’This is very much the reality for people whose retirement payout falls short of their expectations, a future that no one would want to look forward to.’
After connecting with 10X, Kruger introduced the ‘Back to the Future’ concept and quickly won Rabinowitz’s buy-in.
‘It struck me that seeing a happier, more financially secure version of yourself from the future would be a thought-provoking and fun idea. 10X quickly saw the merit, and how it aligned with the messaging they wanted to convey, while Nik liked the idea of seeing two versions of himself,’ said Kruger.
‘From there, we wrote the scripts with Nik’s style of comedy in mind. While we wanted the ads to be funny and bring about some inspirational, light relief, we didn’t want them to be silly or lack credibility in any way, so we researched the prosthetics and make-up artistry for Nik’s future self in order to make each scene as authentic as possible.’
Kruger wanted to stay true to 10X’s disruptor brand status and to stay well clear of more traditional styles of retirement investment advertising.
‘10X gave Sketchbook a lot of creative freedom during the process, which is quite unusual in the commercial film-making space. So, I approached the concept and shot from the consumer’s point of view of: ‘What would I like to see?’, rather than imposing morals and metaphors on an audience that is already tired of being told what they can and can’t do in their everyday lives,’ he said.
‘The comedy element helps us to poke a little fun at our shared situation while reminding us that the future isn’t all doom and gloom. Rather, our collective futures could be quite bright if we make careful decisions now.’
Since the commercials aired on TV and through social media, 10X has seen a 50% increase in digital leads. The first two videos each received around a million views with cost per view measured at about 10 cents, making the ads extremely cost-effective over time.
Hollywood added, ‘The engagement has been very strong and the feedback overwhelmingly positive, particularly the hoverboard video. Its direct reference to Back to the Future resonated strongly with viewers with high sharing and virality figures.’
As consumers in South Africa continue to rethink their values and what’s important to them right now, 10X and Nik Rabinowitz from the future raise many laughs and give viewers a peek at a future they can take charge of.
The Woolworths and Loeries Student Portfolio showcase is an initiative that aims to reshape work experience in the creative sector to meet the needs of both young people and business.
In its second year, the initiative, which is benchmarked against the best programmes of their kind in the world, gives 75 communication and advertising students from various institutions across Africa, a chance to showcase their work and skills, in an intensive four-week boot camp. The programme also provides an opportunity for mentorship, skills development, access to information and content and the chance to be hired by some of the biggest agencies across the region.
‘Woolworths recognises the enormous potential that young people have to drive economic growth and help our communities to thrive. We passionately believe the youth of our country are among the most powerful drivers of social change and are committed to nurturing and developing our future creative thinkers,’ said Kate Fordyce, head of the in-house creative agency at Woolworths.
Through this project, one student will be awarded a 12-month internship with Woolworths’ in-house creative agency, which will provide further exposure and experience across all creative disciplines and platforms.
Woolworths has always believed skills development is a key enabler to empowerment and transformation, not only for the company, but also for the retail sector and the country. It has been actively involved in making a difference in South Africa, through a number of initiatives and partnerships, including the MySchoolMyVillageMyPlanet programme, Educare and Eduplant programmes, and contribution of educator material and support through its Educational Programmes.
‘The impact of the Woolworths Loeries Portfolio Bootcamp will resonate strongly with the creative industry as it will allow the best new talent to find opportunities in the creative industry. The bootcamp judges represent major agencies and brands, thereby ensuring that the 75 students will come out the four-week process with actual skills that will set them on a path to be the next generation of influential creatives,’ said Loeries CEO, Preetesh Sewraj.
Shortlisted candidates for the Woolworths internship:
Name of student
In recognition of important political, societal, and cultural issues that currently impact South Africans, the Loeries and the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria have partnered to uplift and up-skill youth in the brand communications space. ‘The initiative aims to inspire and foster creative excellence and innovation in the broader advertising and communications industry,’ explained Loeries CEO, Preetesh Sewraj.
The U.S. Embassy has sponsored the participation of Los Angeles-based Jess Weiner, a cultural expert who focuses on the intersection of business, social change and inclusivity. Weiner will unpack gender and race issues during a presentation at Loeries Creative Week, at a time when the #BlackLivesMatter and #NotInMyName movements dominate the public discourse in the United States and around the world.
American Corner Pretoria (ACP) will also host an ongoing series of talks by industry professionals during 2021. ACP is one of over 650 spaces established in 150 countries worldwide, nine of which are in South Africa. ACP provides a welcoming environment where visitors can connect and learn about the United States and other important topics through programmes, lectures, and various content platforms. All programmes provided at ACP are completely free of charge.
‘The American Corner Pretoria is a space designed to spark new ideas through collaboration. We have held a number of successful events at ACP and the partnership with the Loeries will further open up space to the wider creative industry,’ explained Embassy Minister Counselor for Public Affairs Frank Whitaker.
‘The American Corner Pretoria will serve as an exciting hub to help further highlight the value of creative economy jobs in amplifying positive social messages. The initiatives of ACP and the Loeries both pertain to uplifting South Africa’s youth and we appreciate the support of the U.S. Embassy in working with us on this important social cause,’ added Sewraj.
‘By partnering with the Loeries, a highly-regarded organisation in the creative industry, the U.S. Embassy will impart new knowledge, and provide resources and opportunities for young, aspiring creatives and all who visit the American Corner in Pretoria on a daily basis,’ concluded Whitaker. The American Corner in Pretoria is located at Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library, Sammy Marks Square, Corner of Madiba and Lillian Ngoyi Street. Find more information on Facebook at facebook.com/acpretoria.
The Nedbank IMC white paper states two rules: everything has changed so change with your customers and stop calling everybody Millennials. These are just the first in a succinct list of rules and highlights outlined in a white paper from the conference, which took place online in July with 1200 delegates.
Prepared by Caitlin Ferreira, Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Head of Section at the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business and Adjunct Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Cape Town, the paper outlines five main themes extracted from the 18 local and international speakers. The overall theme of the conference was ‘Marketing works. More than ever. Work it’.
‘I summarised five key themes from the conference in the white paper. These themes focus on the importance of understanding your customers, the rise of the conscious consumer, the inevitability of change – particularly in 2020, the power of creativity and a look at the future of the marketing industry. The white paper offers marketers insight into where they should be focusing their energy to weather the storm of these unprecedented times. Amidst all the uncertainty that 2020 has brought with it, it has also brought many opportunities for marketers. It has given us the opportunity to reset, to reinforce our brand purpose, to re-examine our priorities and to be more human,’ said Ferreira.
Tim Legg, CEO of Ole!Connect, who partnered with the Nedbank IMC in producing the paper, confirmed that one of his key observations from the conference was that brands need to be more agile and creative than ever before. ‘Increased personalisation of marketing and understanding individual consumer behaviour is necessary for more targeted and relevant communication.’
‘This is an easy, must-read for anyone in marketing’ said Dale Hefer, IMC CEO. Click here to download the white paper.
Business Alchemist Andreas Smit says brands that are not engaging directly with their customers beyond the realm of traditional media are guaranteed to lose traction and market share.
There is more than enough evidence to confirm that consumers are not brand loyal and nothing about lockdown changed that. In fact, up to 36% of consumers have tried a new brand since the pandemic started and 73% of those consumers plan to incorporate the brands into their new routines. There are no rules about brand loyalty during or after a pandemic.
Activations industry open
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, our lives, how we do business and how we engage with brands, has been redefined on a continuous basis. It has been a time of uncertainty and frustration with enormous challenges for brands to orbit. Our industry had no choice but to pivot quickly and efficiently to circumnavigate the inherent challenges presented by the lockdown and the loss of opportunities to directly engage with customers. But an upside to uncertain times is that fortune favours the bold and after months of strategising and preparing for the day, the activations industry is again up and running.
With experiential marketing and activations back in business, the industry is again hard at work helping brands create memorable interactions that effectively spread brand awareness, encourage trial and facilitate dialogue with current and prospective customers.
Human contact deepens connections
The significance of being able to operate again extends beyond keeping people employed and agencies functional because real-life connection does not happen online. It is human contact that helps deepen connections in ways that other media platforms never will. Leading brands recognise this and have welcomed the opportunity to hit the streets and get back to work.
The power of activations is rooted in the fact that each engagement is immersive, practical and personalised and it is widely held opinion that for South Africans, experiencing is believing.
Customers are hungry for connection, particularly after lockdown, and the in-trade environment allows you to do that. This exposure makes them feel a much stronger affinity and affection for a brand. Brand leaders recognise that to remain relevant they need to meet their customers where they are – on the streets at the coalface – sampling, connecting and making sales. Vision Activate responsibly rolled out several successful campaigns during Level 2. Social distancing protocols were observed and the fully sanitised, PPE-compliant activation effectively immersed consumers in the brand.
Low touch not no touch
As we move out of the dark days of Covid-19, it is important to remember that a low-touch economy is not a no-touch economy. So provided all safety precautions are taken and PPE regulations are met, there is no reason why brands should not be on the ground where their customers are, doing sampling, forging relationships and making sales.
Experts have pointed to the lower risk of virus transmission in outdoor settings, prompting more brands to tap into the outdoor sampling opportunities that allow for social distancing. As our temperatures rise and our weather improves, outdoor engagement is expected to become increasingly more attractive and a workable means of interacting in unique and interesting ways that surprise and delight.
Follow protocols to avoid industry shut down
For all activations in both the short and long-term, onsite safety and staff training is paramount. Agencies will need to keep their fingers on the pulse of health and safety updates from global experts and government to ensure the proper processes and protocols are implemented onsite. Yes, activations will have to adjust to satisfy new expectations from health officials and consumers alike – but the core principles of experiential and the importance of face to face interactions remain intact.
Fear of the effects of lockdown and the unknown caused plenty of panic and rumblings about the future of the experiential marketing industry. Our industry had to pivot quickly and efficiently to circumnavigate the inherent challenges presented by the lockdown but in the end I believe we will be stronger than ever before. Those who used this time to strategise and explore ways for experiential to thrive in the months and years to come will see that within a crisis there is always opportunity.
While some brands adopted a wait and see approach, other brands have been seizing the opportunities that the uncluttered activation’s channels are offering right now. It is time to shift gears and embrace our President’s call to take back and rebuild the economy. For activations, that means being at the coal face where customers are and getting out from behind our laptops and into the public eye where we can reinvigorate customer connections. Failure to do so will guarantee failure to launch.
Todd Szahun, Senior Vice President of the Consulting Division at Kantar, states that this year in retail will be remembered for many things, from empty store shelves and the challenges that physical retail faced to the record growth of e-commerce and the rise of last-mile delivery partners.
Consumer behaviour and state government guidelines in response to Covid-19 have fundamentally shifted the way consumers live and shop. While some retailers have posted record quarterly revenue and profits, others have shut their doors for good.
This year’s Breakthrough Insights brings together some of our best thinking of 2020 about the complex ways that all of these changes have and continue to impact manufacturers and retailers. Beyond a point-in-time analysis, these pieces are a guided journey through many of the questions that we heard from respondents through our Covid-19 and Commerce Now series that we grouped into five key themes:
This dynamic collection of work takes the reader from near-term, highly tactical and execution scenarios to more forward-looking, strategic scenario-planning frameworks aimed at maximising organisational agility and preparing companies to excel in a post-pandemic retail environment.
1. Retailers prepare for a downturn
Retailers quickly evolved to address the state of uncertainty, a difficulty in forecasting, and the unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though sales increased, many retailers severely cutting back inventory and increased their cash on hand. In this Commerce Now webinar, David Marcotte and Tory Gundelach shared five key metrics to help quantify this pivot and outlined behavioural adjustments that will help you partner with retailers over the next 3-6 months.
— Shift mindsets and demonstrate empathy: work with retailers as a business, not just a merchandising location. — Enhance financial acumen: In 2020, financial knowledge is critical to working in an industry and in countries under great stress. — Update systems and processes: Review existing systems for potential disconnects between expected and real demand. — Be proactive to possible portfolio changes: Internally review where you might be exposed to risk if retailers change payment terms and conditions.
Hidden gems of the grocery channel: Covid-19 edition
Hidden Gems series highlights ideas and themes from smaller retailers that Kantar does not track regularly. While these retailers may not be the largest customers, they still provide a deeper view of how the grocery channel is evolving. In this edition, we focused on developments stemming from grocers’ Covid-19 responses.
— The line between grocers and restaurants will continue to blur: look for more grocers to experiment with curbside meal pickup as well as virtual efforts, like online cooking classes/ demonstrations or even happy hours and tastings, that cater to shoppers’ immediate needs for safety and security but also foster the community spirit found in great restaurant experiences.
— Nontraditional competitors will seek opportunities in grocery’s gains: Discounters and convenience store operators will put more emphasis on food sales to help offset declining sales in more discretionary and fuel-related categories as well. — More grocers will give seniors special treatment: As boomers mature and the senior population grows, there’s an opportunity beyond COVID-19 for grocers to cater specifically to the ageing population, particularly given that older shoppers will have more spending power as a group than they’ve had historically.
Race, social justice and retail
The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter campaign has put the retail industry in a unique position to respond to social justice issues. We asked shoppers how they want to see retailers react to issues of racial inequality and social justice. This isn’t about how to win the social justice game at retail — listening, understanding and developing a sustainable, custom approach for your business will help you connect with shoppers in ways that go beyond traditional loyalty.
— There is no one-size-fits-all solution: shoppers care and expect retailers to act, although the strength of those expectations varies by race, generation and location. — Retailers need to take the time to listen to their shoppers: across the four types of retailer responses, shoppers want to see more actions to support people.
2. Covid-19 purchase behaviour shifts: assortment and portfolio implications
People are shopping differently in the pandemic. Volume and frequency are shifting as shoppers make fewer trips but purchase more in each of those trips. Shopper loyalty is being challenged as shoppers prioritize immediacy and availability over their brand, category, and product preferences. Where shoppers shop is also shifting, with online and omnichannel platforms seeing explosive growth. These new behaviours are driven by a variety of factors: Covid related safety measures that make getting out of the home more difficult, rampant out-of-stocks across categories, and shifting needs as the country spends more time at home.
— Don’t over-weight pandemic-related trends and behaviours in forecasting and assortment planning. — Reprioritise niche segments and product variants as shoppers’ preferences re-emerge and their decision-making process becomes less flexible. — Evaluate lasting shopper preference shifts and seek to understand what behaviours will be sustained post-pandemic. — Re-evaluate brand loyalty and the competitive set. Understand which brands have gained (and lost) share as shoppers’ consideration sets have expanded. — Ensure you have the right assortment, content, and strategy for lasting online grocery behaviours.
Crisis inspires new thinking around brand accessibility
With consumers now shopping online and offline for essential items, the biggest concern is not about the channel used, but the ability to get what they need. Collaborations and partnerships that enable rapid access to essentials are providing significant new routes to the consumer. They are alleviating pressure on traditional distribution channels, and also giving new purpose to underutilised stores.
— Use high levels of online traffic to better understand the e-commerce customer experience. — Demonstrate the need for investment to double down on e-commerce and omnichannel capabilities. — Explore on-demand platforms, taking learnings to finesse distinct solutions post-pandemic. — Streamline access to products via platforms with high consumer engagement.
3. The state of e-commerce 2021
The great acceleration of e-commerce, fuelled by Americans’ response to Covid-19, has stretched our infrastructure and compressed growth timelines. Evolving shopper behaviour illuminates new priorities for online shopping touchpoints, resets our expectations of shopper convenience over price, and sheds new light on the growing value of social commerce.
The State of Ecommerce 2021 is a landmark study intended to inform new standards of excellence and provide clear calls to action for winning in e-commerce. In order to achieve this, we surveyed 500 online purchasers and 200 industry professionals across brand, shopper marketing, eocommerce, and advertising specialities. Our research unveils powerful insights that will help you execute unique e-commerce strategies across retailers and channels.
— Unlock custom opportunities with retailers through mutual value: Nearly all of the industry professionals that we spoke with want more cooperation, flexibility, and data from retailers. — Embrace online grocery and last-mile delivery, even if you aren’t a traditional grocery brand: The unprecedented growth of online grocery and last-mile delivery is an opportunity now that will only get better in the near term. — Prioritise convenience and ease for shoppers: with new platforms, tools, and data available almost daily, it can be easy to lose sight of the single most important element of a successful e-commerce strategy: the consumer.
4. Post-Covid commerce
The world is experiencing a dynamic and profound shift in the shopping journey. Even without the added layer of the current Covid-19 pandemic, digital commerce has been gaining traction as a preferred method of consumerism. Now, because of the pandemic, we have digitally jumped ahead by three to four years in the span of two months. Pre-pandemic, e-commerce was expected to account for 15% of US sales this year, but by the end of April 2020, 25% of all sales came through e-commerce channels — a 65% jump.
As we consider what the great retail reawakening might look like, we must think about the new shopping habits and how they will impact retailers and branded manufacturers. This post-Covid commerce report examines trends, habits, and implications through four phases of a post-Covid world. We also outline new retailer dynamics, the shopper HOPES strategy and brands’ shopper-centric approach.
— The new retailer dynamics: capitalise on driving volume through the winners. Retailer profits are facing significant pressure in the assortment and overall investment space. As a supplier, you will need to help and partner with retailers to ensure you are building the right digital assortment and shelf. — The shopper HOPES strategy: understand that shoppers are scared, hesitant, anxious, worn out and financially challenged. Post-COVID fears will take years to dissipate, especially if the second wave of infections emerges. — Brands’ omnichannel and shopper-centric approach: E-superiors and e-adaptable will continue to grow and accelerate. If you and your company fall into the e-inferior category as it relates to digital capabilities, now is the time to invest in building competencies.
Gen Z and the Covid-19 implications
Gen Z is changing the cultural conversation on everything from politics to pop music. Despite their young age, members of Gen Z (also known as centennials) are fundamentally health-focused and the most health-minded of any generation today. In this webinar, we discuss the fundamentals of Gen Z and how they differ from previous generations while diving into the near and long-term implications on spending behaviour in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
— Sponsor positive mental health initiatives: consider ways your brand could help younger shoppers improve their mental health states by supporting mental health/stress care and possibly sponsoring associations or in-store seminars/classes. — Consider how price incentives can reward desired behaviours, such as engagement, health, and sustainability: be transparent with centennials about certain pricing premiums and provide discounts for shipping options that reduce the environmental impact. Expect pricing to be increasingly personalised based on lifestyle data. — Embrace virtual communication: with centennials’ social life so limited, brands and retailers need to sponsor online platforms that foster social interaction and provide engagement and entertainment for younger consumers. — Develop a telehealth strategy: align your product with telehealth services that can help meet centennials’ health needs.
Boomtown’s breast cancer awareness campaign for South African poultry producer, Sovereign, was rolled out on digital platforms and in-store using tactically placed wobblers in food aisles, eye-catching on-pack stickers, and T-shirt stickers for customers to show their support for breast cancer awareness.
An illustrated breast check tutorial, fun Facebook frame and competition were rolled out on Sovereign’s social media platforms.The campaign successfully reminds women that checking their breasts is a top priority. The annual Sovereign breast cancer awareness campaign not only raises general awareness but also funds for the non-profit, public benefit organisation PinkDrive. Now in its third year, Sovereign donates R1 for every 1kg of Country Range chicken breasts purchased by consumers at Spars throughout the Eastern Cape and Food Lover’s Markets in Gauteng to the PinkDrive.
Boomtown graphic designer, Danelle Claassen said, ’With this campaign, we wanted to create thought-provoking ideas and visuals to raise awareness. We aimed to make the consumer stop, look and think. We addressed this very serious topic with fun and quirky messaging and visuals, that would make people ask, ‘What is a Worry Boob?’
Boomtown first approached Sovereign with the idea of creating educational awareness during breast cancer awareness month, while driving sales in-store over the years. The ‘Don’t be chicken, check them’ campaign was based on the insight that women are often too scared to check their breasts because they are worried about what they might find. Overall, the campaigns were a huge success resulting in Sovereign donating R55,000 in the first year and R187,000 in the second, a 300% growth in donations to PinkDrive.
‘With Covid-19 being the main health concern and point of focus this year, women are not visiting their GPs or clinics, and are not going for their regular health check-ups, leaving their health at the wayside. ‘Be a Worry Boob’ brings women’s health back into focus, reminding women what is still important: checking their breasts for signs of breast cancer,’ said Boomtown’s digital copywriter, Liesl Silverman.
‘By asking people if they are worried about the right things, we are urging them to get their priorities straight, and make sure checking their breasts is top of their list. The ‘Be a worry boob’ messaging is a call to action for all women, be they mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, cousins, aunties and colleagues,’ added Claassen.