2013 saw the biggest brands in sub-Saharan Africa roll out initiatives that allowed their customers to participate in some truly novel projects. Expect even more brands in 2014 to attract new customers by launching exciting interactive movements, initiatives and campaigns.
As a result of African consumers no longer willing to tolerate bland mass-marketing messages, HYPERACTIVE BRANDS all over the continent will increasingly capture these consumers’ attention with delightful, engaging, altruistic and empowering interactive initiatives and campaigns.
For too long, uninventive and vanilla mass-market experiences have dominated many markets across sub-Saharan Africa. Traditionally businesses operating on the continent were concerned with maintaining tight branding budgets and supplying stripped down, no-frills products and services to low income consumers. This old-fashioned perspective of the African consumer landscape viewed any kind of excessive expenditure on pleasurable brand experiences a frivolous luxury, unnecessary for those at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’. Meanwhile, marketing channels remained immature (and focused on mass media: TV, radio, newspapers) despite the explosion of the rapidly expanding middle class.
Today however, HYPERACTIVE BRANDS are exciting new consumers, capturing their love, attention and undoubtedly long-term loyalty. As disposable incomes balloon within certain demographic groups and locations (like cities), so does the attention to attracting these niches. 2014 and beyond marks a time where brands in Africa must reach out to these previously neglected consumers in a state of brand boredom, who are craving the exchange of bland brand experiences for unique and dynamic ones.
Recent times has seen a branding overhaul, especially in the larger consumer markets such as South Africa and Nigeria. Along with the well-documented rising affluence, many Africans are also asserting their right to be regarded with respect on a global scale. In fact, Africa’s new identity on a macro scale as the economic final frontier, a place of promise and untapped opportunity has all but filtered down to the grass roots.
Which is why tomorrow’s success stories in Africa will revolve around HYPERACTIVE BRANDS that give the power back to the people, and almost completely relinquish control of how their marketing strategies are received and interpreted. Savvy companies today are leading the way by leveraging campaigns as mediums for dialogue with their customers, and welcoming participation from them in order to inform and shape their brand image.
It’s worth noting that there are now a plethora of African consumers who are very familiar with and even expect to interact with brands they love. Whether this is due to the fact that they have had first hand experience with brands abroad, or they have formed this expectation via other channels.
Considering Africa is the youngest continent on the planet, it would be negligent to not pay attention to such a key demographic – the African youth, many of whom are only equipped with mobile phones. The desire to reach young Africans on these naturally hyperactive devices has given rise to an evolution of traditional marketing strategies. Furthermore, these plugged in, highly excitable young consumers also face a dazzling array of choices and distractions.
Thus HYPERACTIVE BRANDS are finding novel ways in which to capture their short attention spans and facilitate deeper emotional connections – in the hopes of establishing brand loyalty as these young consumers grow and acquire more wealth.
There are three key methods that HYPERACTIVE BRANDS adopt in order to ensure memorable interactive experiences:
Game dynamics taps into the human desire for self-expression, competition, achievement, and status. Linking brand interaction to competitive fun, challenges and rewards, allows players to both flaunt and benchmark their skills (or those of who they’re rooting for) against others, and visualize their own progress.
In January 2014, Cape Town’s free website builder service Yola announced a contest inviting participants with no technical knowledge to submit a new professional website using their builder tool. With a February 2014 submission deadline, Yola claims their tool is comprehensive enough to enable anybody to create a website within a month or less ‘without high cost or hassle’. The prizes include free subscriptions to their services, domain registration, customized online tools and discounts on web management fees.
In January 2014, finalists were announced for the Afrinolly Short Film Competition. The organization encouraged filmmakers on the continent and in the diaspora to submit short films and documentaries in an attempt to showcase a new generation of African cinema talent and make African content readily available online. Public voting commenced on January 8th for two weeks, with winners announced at the end of the month. There was an overall cash prize of USD 25,000 for winning submissions. The award show is to be held in Lagos in February, sponsored by MTN, Cote Quest Audiovisuel, IREP and Goethe Institut.
In November 2013, the first finalists were revealed for the Jack Daniel’s Music Scouts competition. From over 1300 entries, the ‘JD Music Scouts’ jury: three South African music legends, selected 12 contestants to battle it out for a spot in the final showcase in December 2013. Meanwhile South Africans were able to follow the progress of the contestants via their mobile devices, on a Facebook app, and through a dedicated Twitter hashtag. Launched in order to showcase up-and-coming authentic South African musicians, the winning artists gained exposure throughout the campaign, as well as a music-discovery trip to the States.
December 2013 saw South African process cheese brand Clover announce the winner of the ‘Way Better Kota’ competition. The interactive campaign was aimed at driving locals to vote for the spaza shop (an informal outlet), serving their favourite kota (a South African fast food dish), using their brand of cheese. Consumers voted via SMS for their favourite kotas, whilst also banking a one-off ZAR 500 for themselves and ZAR 500 for participating spazas daily. The challenge set out to increase sales in the informal trade sector and showcase some of the best versions of the dish. The winner received a spaza makeover valued at ZAR 100,000.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that as affluence increases and an individual’s focus on basic fundamentals decreases, a deeper quest for self-actualization is inevitable. True to this theory, today consumers in Africa are seeking ways they can be a part of something greater than themselves. This may be through learning, connection with a higher cause, altruism, or membership and bonding with others in a like-minded community. Technologies are available for brands to quickly access and affect these consumers for the greater good through new ideas, schemes and empowering initiatives. Naturally, they welcome brands to help them in this, especially when the campaign is interactive, genuine* and has a human touch.
* A word of caution: Be prepared to be in it for the long haul. When it comes to initiatives such as these, African consumers distrust promises of a quick fix. Social movements take time to achieve their goals. Likewise, ‘good’ campaigns should not be short-lived.
In November 2013, First National Bank selected a winner for its 'Ideas Can Help' initiative, an open competition for South Africans to submit inventions that are both innovative and helpful to their community. After 28 business ideas aimed at making a difference were uploaded onto FNB’s website, almost 4 million votes were logged. The winner received funding to the value of ZAR 500,000, business development services, and a place on an incubation program in order to develop their invention in 2014, whilst the two runner ups also received ZAR 175,000 each.
In October 2013 and in conjunction with the ‘Champion Coach’ campaign, Carling Black Label urged drinkers to earn loyalty points for instant redemption on every beer purchased. Running over a 17-week period, the interactive beer rewards promotion replaced their usual ‘buy and win’ campaigns by offering guaranteed rewards to loyal customers such as cash - collectable from popular outlets, and airtime - directly loaded onto participants’ phones.
During September 2013, Tiger Wheel & Tyre collaborated with South Africa’s National Blood Service and The Western Province Blood Transfusion Service to challenge South Africans to donate blood. By sending through an SMS with an associated blood unit number, each donor stood a chance of winning a variety of branded cash-loaded gift cards, as well as a voucher for free wheel rebalancing - redeemable at any of their centers.
As consumers seek out novel and exciting products and experiences, there are many tools, channels and platforms available, which brands can use to inject a sense of fun. Implementing events, prize draws, countdowns and playing on luck will always prove popular with consumers, and with added twists, can exemplify why brand hyperactivity works so well. When executed successfully, if not instilling enduring brand loyalty, contestants are bound to have lasting positive memories of your brand – marketing at its finest. It’s time for brands to come out and play.
November 2013 saw Magnum host South Africa’s first ‘live’ Twitter Auction using over 1000 participants’ tweets as currency in the launch of Magnum ice cream’s new Pink Pomegranate and Black Espresso flavors. Each of the 10 luxury prizes chosen by the brand’s Facebook fans were offered up on Twitter, and each prize would go to the highest bidder who made the most #MagnumAuction tweets within a 15 minute time-frame. After gaining over 10,000 new followers during the campaign, MagnumSA is now the largest FMCG Twitter brand in South Africa.
In 2013, Nigerian Breweries company, Legend Extra Stout ran the second edition of ‘Legend Real Deal National Consumer Promotion’ where lucky participants with specific codes underneath the bottle tops could claim prizes via SMS ranging from refrigerators to mobile phone handsets. However June 2013 saw also Legend announce a prize draw where winners received an all-expenses paid trip to Dubai, UAE. There, they were challenged to race through selected outlets and pick up as many items as possible up to the value of NGN 1,000,000 in under one minute. The contestants were promoted via various media channels.
In May 2013, MTV Base launched the MTV Africa All Stars, a youth focused live and digital campaign highlighting the cross-continent appeal of contemporary African musicians. With the campaign being a salute to African youth, MTV also produced a series of innovative music workshops for young enthusiasts, televised and interactive online behind-the-scenes coverage of African artists, and launched star-studded concerts in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa for anyone to attend.
November 2013 saw Nigerian telecoms giant, Glo produce the ‘Glo Slide & Bounce’ concert tour in three Ghanaian cities: Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. In celebration of 18 months of operations in Ghana, the company implemented the concerts as a sign of appreciation to loyal subscribers. Customers that recharged their phones and sent a coded SMS to Glo were awarded tickets to the event. With the intention of promoting indigenous African culture, the highly anticipated billing included entertainers of Nigerian and Ghanaian descent only. Competitions were held during the occasion where winners received Glo branded gifts and free airtime credit.
Sorry to say this but bland billboards just won’t cut it anymore. Think about how these mediums can become places where consumers can learn about, play with, and have a positive experience with your brand.
It goes without saying that certain markets in sub-Saharan Africa are going to be more familiar with HYPERACTIVE BRANDS than others. Beyond Nigeria and South Africa however, now is the time for less obvious regions, countries, cities and brands to consider becoming HYPERACTIVE.
Like Clover’s ‘Way Better Kota’ competition, consider creating campaigns that all participants can actually benefit from, even if in a little way. Marketing as a service will be the next phase for HYPERACTIVE BRANDS targeting attention-lite consumers.
When rolling out new campaigns, consider how it will fit into the daily lives of consumers, when they are most receptive, and make their routine more interesting or engaging.
Chew over how you can turn consumers’ contributions into a brand community. After all, like-minded people tend to enjoy meeting each other. If contributors are uploading photos, why not collate them into a photo album for all to see and comment on? If they’re submitting content, why not publish it?
Interaction doesn’t have to stop at campaigns, why not invite fans, users or followers to participate in the actual production of your product? The benefits are bound to be mutual: they get a chance to be even more engaged in the brand, and if the process is successfully managed, you will get a better product.
Take a leaf out of First National Bank’s book who urged entrants of their competition to generate support from their personal networks. Help consumers extend their interactive experiences by providing the tools to help them broadcast and display their achievements across social networks: whether through videos, photos, high scores or similar. In this way, your brand too becomes visible to new audiences.
Why not try using our free Consumer Trend Canvas to structure your next trend brainstorming session, and make it a HYPERACTIVE one (!), flowing with compelling new innovation ideas.
Next for HYPERACTIVE BRANDS? Let’s save the answer for another Trend Bulletin ;)
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