Consumer Marketing in 2024 | How to win customers and influence consumers.


Key Consumer Trends to Maximise Consumer Marketing Results in 2024.

South African’s are notoriously resilient. And 2023 proved yet another test of our resilience. Not least because of a cost-of-living crisis characterised by soaring consumer goods prices. While not uniquely South African, a persistent energy crisis added insult to injury. In 2023, the number of loadshedding days reached an all-time high, adding pressure to already constrained value chains. Shoprite’s South African Supermarkets division, for instance, incurred R1.3 billion in load shedding expenses, while Spar spent over R700 million on diesel costs in just six months of 2023. 

 

And salaries haven’t kept pace with inflation. According to PwC South Africa’s eighth South Africa Economic Outlook report for 2023, salaries and wages increased by 4.0% in 2022 compared to an average inflation rate of 6.9% – a 2.9% decline in real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) income and household buying power. In 2024, PwC predicts a nominal respite with a 5.2% increase in salaries and wages compared to an average inflation rate of 6.0%.  

 

Consumers are feeling the pinch and are increasingly discerning as they navigate choices in-aisle and online. This is evident in the rise (and rise) of private labels, with the likes of Shoprite, Pick n Pay, and Clicks all recently reporting double-digit growth in sales of their private-label or own-brand products. The value retailers assign to private labels and house brands was made clear in a recent court battle between giants, Pick n Pay and Checkers, over the former’s ‘remarkably similar’ premium range packaging. 

 

As consumers, we understand. But as marketers, we remain under pressure to convince and convert consumers to the brands we represent. Margins and sales are two sides of a double-edged sword, and marketing has the power to position value so that both are maximised. Getting this right means tapping into consumer sentiments and market trends, to ensure that how we show up in-market meets the evolving needs of constrained consumers.  

 

It’s about more than Above-, Below-, or Through-the-Line, it’s about taking a targeted, integrated, and data-enabled approach to how we reach and engage consumers. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that marketing efforts add value, rather than just position value. 

The Consumer Landscape | The more things change the more they stay the same.

“As a Below-the-Line (BTL) shopper marketing agency, we are at the coal face of consumer sales and marketing in South Africa”, says Tradeway’s CEO, Lauren Harvey. “We keep a very literal finger on the pulse of consumer behaviour through in-store and out-of-home activations that result in millions of consumer engagements each year”.  

 

“Based on those engagements, it’s clear that consumers heading into 2024 remain constrained – under pressure to maximise value. We’ve seen that while value for money is key, values remain a consideration with many consumers voting with their wallets for sustainability, health, and wellness, a trend we expect will persist”, Harvey continues.  

 

“Alongside this, we anticipate that e-commerce will continue to grow, but that many South African’s either opt or have little option but to shop in-store”.  

 

While access to the internet and smart devices has increased to 80%-90% of the population, data poverty and low digital literacy remain barriers to e-commerce for the vast majority. “Despite these barriers, shoppers across the board demand a degree of personalisation from brands and retailers and are willing to part company with personal information in exchange for value – so long as there’s an assurance of data security”. 

 

“In short, 2024 does not present significant new challenges from a market trend perspective”, Harvey concludes. 

 

What has changed, however, is how marketers tackle those challenges. The democratisation of Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI), for instance, means that ways to integrate and interpret sales and marketing data at scale for greater insight and personalisation is more accessible than ever before.  

 

The ability to integrate insights into marketing – and to more accurately attribute results – means that there is little excuse for wasteful or wonton marketing expenditure.    

An Integrated Approach | Below-the-Line is NOT Outside-the-Line.

Given the importance of physical channels in engaging South African consumers, below-the-line marketing – including in-store promotions, brand activations and experiential events – remains key to maximising reach and engagement. 

 

However, the days of activating without insight are over. Any agency or brand worth its salt should have a way to track and monitor consumer engagements and attribute efficacy to the bottom line. This demands a tech-enabled approach.  

 

“At Tradeway, we have tackled this challenge in a number of ways”, says Harvey. “The first is PromoForce, a proprietary mobile application to enable geo-tracking of in-field activations, and capture consumer interactions in real-time”. 

 

“We’ve also incorporated QR codes, WhatsApp, USSD and social media into physical activations, giving consumers a way to authentically opt-in and engage with brands well beyond in-store interactions”, adds Harvey. 

 

“By ensuring that our campaigns are data-enabled, we are able to attribute results, optimise in real time and generate actionable insights”. 

Why Marketing Attribution Matters

It’s been said that marketing is an art rather than a science. While awash with estimates, according to the Internet, you need between 8 and 10 touchpoints to convert a consumer. Each touchpoint incurs a cost. The temptation for marketers is to default to the most affordable touchpoints and hope for the best. However, this belies the fact that not all touchpoints are created equal. The beauty of BTL is in its ability to move a consumer from awareness, to interest, to desire and to action in a single sitting. But, unless you can accurately attribute sales to marketing activity, you’ve only got your agency’s word for it. 

Beyond holding marketing partners to account, attribution helps you gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour – which channels perform better, and when. This can help you maximise your marketing spend beyond BTL. It can inform when consumers will be most receptive to messaging that goes Above-, Below- and Through-the-Line.  

In short, attribution allows optimisation. It means spending time and money where it’s most likely to engage and convert, and its key to effective and efficient marketing. 

The Gold Standard | Integrated Marketing

Accurate attribution demands an integrated approach. Your agency partners need to be willing and able to partner with you and each other to deliver a consistent and cohesive message to the market that amplifies and drives engagement. 

 

Taking this integrated approach has other benefits. Allowing each agency to play to its strengths, for instance, as well as creating an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration. 

Putting it all Together -

In a market characterised by constrained consumers seeking to maximise value, your marketing spend must work harder than ever before to convert. Getting this right demands the following: 

Great consumer marketing means understanding your potential and existing customers– and ensuring that your product, positioning and price meets their needs.  

Then, it’s about communicating that value proposition to maximise awareness, engagement and action – in the channels that your target market frequents. These are many and varied.

Making sure you show up in those channels with the right messaging at the right time means partnering with experts – whether digital, above- or below-the-line, and diversifying your marketing mix for maximum return. 

Having partnered with the experts, you then need to ensure that your efforts are tech-enabled for accurate attribution so that you can measure and optimise continuous improvement. 

Easier said than done! But done right, and the results speak for themselves.  

 

At Tradeway, we go beyond BTL – we pride ourselves in strategic long-term partnerships with the world’s leading brands and agencies. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can assist with integrated, tech-enabled campaigns that deliver results and insight, and add value to your customers. 

 

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