Africa has faced several limitations on the availability of credible consumer data in its markets, with most data being gathered using traditional research techniques that give the continent a delayed outlook of consumer sentiments and needs.
But with the Fourth Industrial Revolution happening in a rapid pace, African brands are rethinking their future as global competition increases, and shifting consumer behaviour becomes the nucleus around which key marketing decisions are made.
Brand experts say using technology and building digital skills to connect marketers to customers and new markets is a key driver to building the stature of African brands, in the process unlocking the untapped potential of the region’s products and services.
Big Data expert and chief executive of Predictive Analytics Lab, Timothy Oriedo says the use of data to predict consumer trends is gaining momentum across the world, and Africa should not be left out.
“Data is the new oil, if you process it well, you’re likely to get the right insights and make informed decisions,” he remarks.
The use of real-time targeted marketing, he notes, has the potential to spur growth in Africa as brands reach their intended consumers.
Vikas Mehta, chief executive of Ogilvy Africa told Digital Business that brands and marketers need to be innovative to connect with the ever shifting needs of customers. Technology, he notes, holds the key to brands staying ahead of competition and keeping pace with the dynamic needs of customers, particularly millennials.
“In today’s environment when the trending topics on Twitter can change by the hour, it creates a gap in every marketer’s ability to connect with people in real-time,” says Mr Mehta.
As a key player in marketing and building profile of brands, Ogilvy has come up with an innovation dubbed Feed that it says offers social intelligence, data analytics, community management and content innovations “in a unified offering”.
Mr Mehta says the innovation seeks to connect brands to popular culture and millennials whose consumerism dynamics are changing in tandem with emerging technologies.
“With Feed, we’ve created a unique solution through a variety of data sets and tools, that can provide a reasonably credible picture of consumer sentiment, as it evolves,” Mr Mehta notes.
The platform, he says, has been built with Africa in mind, labelling it a potential game-changer for several local and multinational brands. The solution is being rolled out across Africa in phases.
The biggest value that the software brings to brands, Mr Mehta says is the ability to become a part of contemporary culture and shape the narrative with consumers.
“Advertising in its best form can only spark a social conversation. When you add Feed to a marketer’s arsenal, their brands can become a voice in people’s conversations. Backed by social intelligence, this ability can take a brand’s relevance to a whole new level,” Mr Mehta notes.
“Brands have recognised the importance of having their finger on the consumer’s pulse for decades now, and there are several offerings in the market to serve different aspects of that opportunity.”
Yash Ranga of Jaipur Rugs says technology enables industries to move up the value and access a wider market.
“Technology isn’t necessarily about changing the industries people are in, but rather about empowering them to move up the value chain by gaining access to a broader market of consumers,” says Yash Ranga of Jaipur Rugs.
Alexandra van der Ploeg, global head of SAP corporate social responsibility, says the world is looking to technology to help create sustainable solutions that help to improve people’s lives.
“While technology cannot replace brand culture ... it can definitely accelerate its impact. You don’t have to be a social entrepreneur to practice social entrepreneurship,” he says.