ProActive™’s Stephan Botha outlines the key elements for brand success, especially for fmcg brands, in African countries.
It’s been a number of years that ProActive™ has been implementing campaigns in African countries; and it hasn’t been without challenges. Doing business in African countries is like going to the school of hard knocks. But this said, once you’ve learnt the lessons, creating success is a matter of applying knowledge and research to create effective marketing strategies that are then implemented by exceptional operational teams. Having implemented thousands of in-store activations, mall activations, store theatres, roadshows, task teams, events and expos in various countries, there are a number of key things that we have gained knowledge on.
The first thing is to realise and accept that every country is different. Africa is a big continent and grouping 54 countries into one is not going to do your brand or your campaign any justice. Each country is richly diverse from the rest and we need to acquire a deep knowledge of how things work in each country and region before even contemplating strategy. A one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work, whereas a well-researched, strategically sound, customized campaign is more likely to result in the desired return on investment. Language, dialects, customary habits, religion as well as shopping patterns need to be considered before campaign planning even begins.
The second is to know how, when and where people shop. Consider the consumer’s spending habits and also look into their access to transport as well as shopping infrastructure. For example – do people shop at open-air markets or air-conditioned shopping malls? Do they shop on public holidays? Do they do all their shopping at month end? These factors will hugely determine the kind of marketing campaign that will best meet the brand objectives.
Thirdly, keep in mind that in most African countries, especially in the sub-Saharan countries, consumers enjoy engaging with brand activations and with brand ambassadors. The trick is to implement activations on the right days at the most effective times. It’s no use having a brand ambassador ready to hand out samples when there’s no one in the store.
The fourth element to a successful campaign is flexibility. Power outages, transport problems, general infrastructure and other issues can put a spanner in the works. Plan as much as possible but stay flexible so that you can change elements while still making them fit with both the needs of the client and the target audience.
Overall, what we’ve learnt about consumers is that most of them are interested in what brands have to say, especially if it’s an attractive offering. Consumers see value in activations, be it in-store promotions, mall stands, Shoppa Shows™ or expos. They are also willing to take the time to interact with a mall stand or be an active participant in a Shoppa Show™. In a recent campaign in Lagos, the Shoppa Show™ was drawing such large crowds that we even had a local celebrity join the promoters. You can imagine the excitement of the crowd and the positive impact this had on the brand.
Rolling out excellent, well-researched, relevant out of home campaigns can have an extremely positive impact on an fmcg brand; building brand affinity and converting this into sales.