Today’s pace of change is unprecedented. Advancements in technology and increasing adoption shake the very foundations of how we market and consume products and services. What should you do to make sure your brand isn’t left floundering in the wake of change? Learn how to maximise market share with customer-centric promotional marketing.
In over 20 years’ as below-the-line promotional marketing agency we’ve experienced first-hand the changing consumer landscape and the conundrum facing consumer-facing brands. With all the benefits of data-driven scalability and efficiency, there’s significant pressure to modernise and digitise everything – including the way we engage with consumers. Marketers are feeling the pressure, and many are tempted (and sometimes mandated) to make the shift to digital-first marketing strategies.
BUT (and it’s a big one!), in developing and hybrid markets like South Africa, limiting your marketing mix to digital-only is ill-considered at best and downright discriminatory at worst. It’s premised on a huge data gap that fails to take into account the way the majority of South Africans live and consume. And any marketing strategy that forgets about the consumer is doomed to fail.
The challenge for marketers remains the same – know thy customer.
The challenge for below-the-line promotional marketing today lies in bringing the best of digital into the value proposition, by incorporating performance reporting and data analysis for actionable market insights, for instance. And by leveraging technology, you can have the best of both worlds for maximum consumer connection and market share.
The Changing Landscape
Consumers are increasingly comfortable shopping online. This has had some surprising consequences. Progressive retailers see the value of digital consumer attention and data. Not only to better understand consumer bahaviour and market trends, but as a source of revenue.
They are adding digital ad space to their inventory on ecommerce platforms, transforming online stores into Retail Media Platforms. Manufacturers, not to be outdone, are also exploring digital routes-to-market, disrupting the traditional channel further.
Look no further than Unilever’s Ice cream electronic route to market’ (Ice cream ERTM), an ecommerce app that allows retailers to place icecream orders 24/7. What’s really interesting is how in-store consumer buyer behaviour informed the app’s development – research showed that in-store availability and visibility was a primary driver of ice-cream sales. Unilever took note. Creating a digital route to market saw fuller freezers and top line increase in sales of 25%.
The rise of ecommerce has turned every consumer’s computer or smartphone into a retail outlet.
The result of this expanding and diversified channel is empowered consumers with more choice and greater convenience than ever before. What this means for brands is that the market is also more competitive than ever. This has many of us spinning our wheels and frantically throwing marketing budgets into digital channels in keeping with international trends and mandates from European and North American multinational parent companies.
But this is not Europe or America.
Africa – and South Africa in particular – is a complex, vibrant and diverse market. Sure, it could be argued that the 4%-25% of South Africa’s population earning more than R5,000 per month aspire to developed country buyer behaviour and lifestyle but, for the vast majority, cost of and access to data and mobility mean that we still act and transact in traditional, physical channels.
Treating markets as homogenous in the pursuit of international trends can alienate the very markets you are looking to engage. To compete effectively in this shifting landscape, brands must park their assumptions and go back to the drawing board.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the basic marketing mix and the principles we should employ as we try to maximise market share and increase sales.
What makes up the promotional Marketing Mix and how can we as marketers adjust our thinking for a more customer-centric approach?
The Four Ps of Marketing - with People (Consumers) at the Centre
- Product: To state the obvious, this is the goods or services consumers buy, including the brand, packaging, and format(s). Ask yourself, does my brand and packaging resonate with my target customers’ identity, and do your formats meet their needs and aspirations?
- Price: This is not what you charge – it’s how much consumers need and or value your product. Can / should you sacrifice margin in the interests of market share? Could you introduce different formats (bulk or single servings, for instance) that enhance perceived value? Conversely, if your product is premium, does price reflect consumer associations of quality?
- Place: This is where your customer sees and buys your products. It’s your sales and marketing channel and it must meet consumers where they act and transact. Are they online, in traditional retailers or informal traders? What else are they doing there? What’s their intent to purchase in the channel you are exploring? For instance, they may be exposed to your brand online or on a billboard, but the likelihood of transacting could be higher if engaged directly in-store.
- Promotion: What are your consumer’s preferred engagement platforms? Do they respond to a personal interaction, or would they prefer to self-navigate a digital buyer journey? Are they open to peer influence? Whether digital, experiential, promotional, above-, below- or through-the-line, what, when and how much you invest in promoting your product should be guided by your target customer’s buyer identity and behaviour. Consider how and where they transact relative to your product and where you might have the greatest opportunity to influence their decisions (and therefore deliver return on investment).
In summary, ask yourself:
Is my product positioned as valuable or necessary relative to my target customers (price)? Is it available where they act and transact (place) and what influences their final purchasing decision (promotion)? From here you can design a customer-centric marketing mix for maximum efficacy.
Each element in the Marketing Mix can be levered to varying degrees to maximise share in a particular market. The key is letting your target market be your guide as you design and deploy your marketing strategies.
It’s also important to recognise the dynamics between the different elements and how you can leverage them for maximum effect (for instance, combining Promotion and Price for a limited time to drive trial and adoption in a particular channel). Remember, you may have multiple target markets for a given brand or product, and each may require a different mix of marketing tactics.
In short, your mix of promotional marketing tactics should be as targeted as any good digital campaign. And where your audience still act and transact in physical spaces, you might miss a trick if you focus exclusively on digital.
At Tradeway, we specialise in promotional marketing, sure. But our true value and expertise lies in our value-added advisory services. We’re data-driven and work with our clients to identify the channels and mechanics most likely to meet and exceed objectives.
Let’s grab a coffee and explore your target market and ideal promotional marketing mix!