The world seems to be on standby, waiting for something to happen.
In the meantime, companies are trying to survive. Those that shut down in response to government directives on the pandemic are planning what to do next, and those allowed to open are under pressure to deliver under challenging circumstances. There are not enough raw materials; blocked roads are not allowing product deliveries. Customers are on some variation of lockdown.
Marketing directors need to take a step back and rethink their whole strategy. With the postponement and cancellation of most of their action plans, marketing teams have to redesign and quickly create short-term and long-term campaigns.
No more events, parties, or fancy influencers. Consumers are no longer looking at brands as personality or image tools to help them reinforce their external perception. They are now focusing on ’surviving’ with limited essential products, threatened by potential job losses, and under the threat of an ominous virus.
Brands have stopped their traditional communication to start connecting with the urgent needs of their consumers and society, reconstructing their customer relationship and thus, building a new communication strategy.
But where do we start? Where do we focus?
The starting point should be to understand the consumer. Consumers are currently confronted with a new reality, with new obstacles and problems. If we consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, these days, we can see consumers seeking to fulfil their physiological or basic needs.
They are moving from ’esteem’ and ’self-actualisation’ levels to the base of the pyramid, where ’physiological’ and ’safety’ needs become critical due to the current crisis. Therefore, many brands are adapting their communication messages from the image and personality objectives to more sensitive issues. For example, some brands are producing sanitizer gel instead of beer or soft drinks, ventilators instead of cars, medical uniforms instead of fashion items.
During the Crisis, communication is vital in two ways:
•From the company to the client, using major media channels (digital, social media, television, radio), but also through more traditional and personalised channels such as the telephone, emails or text messages. This communication strategy is particularly right for B2B (Business-to-Business) companies with a database of loyal clients, who can be contacted regularly through a phone call or a personalised email.
•From the client to the company, listening to customers and answering their questions, being proactive, and flexible. Companies have to listen because they want to offer their best customer service, even when they are not able to sell or serve products. Moreover, because customers are looking for support, they need to feel understood even if their needs cannot be met immediately. Despite the distance, our employees must show empathy and listen.
Active listening can also be achieved through interviews, customer surveys, blogs, and digital analytical tools. Marketing teams should focus on Understanding the Consumer to provide better service and develop innovative products. Set up a blog and ask your consumers to share their experiences during the lockdown (ethnographic research). From your CRM database, launch short surveys to identify your current customer needs. Monitor and analyze your consumer behaviour on your website. Today, all these research tools are available, affordable, and easy to use.
What is next?
Do not wait till the end of the partial lockdown. Prepare different scenarios and be ready to redefine your marketing strategy and your traditional marketing mix.
You will probably have to re-segment your market. Traditioznal segmentation will not be enough to help you target the right consumers and develop innovative products or services. Your customers will be risk-averse, health-conscious, and extremely price-sensitive. A recession, combined with a potential naira devaluation, plus countless job losses, will adversely affect numerous categories.
The consumption patterns, especially among middle and upper classes, will change. The average consumer will stay at home, increase his digital usage, and look for health-conscious, safe and reliable brands. On the other hand, low-income segments (bottom of the pyramid), consumers living on one or two dollars per day, will continue in a survival mode. Companies offering products for this segment must learn to adapt their products to low-cost concepts, packs, or services.
When looking at your Marketing Mix (4Ps), consider the Price as the most critical factor, but do not forget the other Ps. The new price-sensitivity will require companies to focus on their value brands and their premium brands. Consumers will expect to get value for money. The mainstream brands will suffer if you do not increase their value perceived. Companies can try to develop smaller packs like the beverage industry is doing with the sachets for milk, water or spirits. Another option is to add ingredients or supplements to the current recipe (vitamins, minerals, flavours). You can also restructure your yearly services, selling them through modules or reduced proposals (short-term subscriptions, modular studies). In other words, be creative and innovate.
From a promotional perspective, do not stop supporting your brand. After the 2008 crisis, the companies that did not stop investing were the ones who recovered faster. Thus, even if you are focusing on reducing expenditures and managing cash, invest strategically in your core brand. Your brand equity is more important than ever.
Your point-of-sale and supply chains will undoubtedly be affected. In the short-term, customers will go back to work, and in less than one year, we will be adjusting to the ’new’ normal, with higher online consumption and with customers focusing on the solid, safe and reliable brands.
Take a step back and be ready for the future.
•Vanessa Burgal teaches Marketing at Lagos Business School.
APCON out with new syllabus for professional examinations
The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has announced the introduction of a new syllabus for the Professional Diploma in Advertising (PDA). The syllabus which takes effect in December 2020, replaces the one that has been in use since 2010.
Accordingly to a statement issued by APCON last week, part 1 of the PDA examinations for the November/December 2020 diet will be based on the new syllabus. Candidates previously enrolled in the PDA who will be proceeding to parts 2 and 3 of the examinations will continue to be examined on the former syllabus until May/June 2021 when they are expected to have exited the programme.
“The new syllabus provides for five courses in each of the three parts of the programme as hitherto with adjustments in the course titles and contents to reflect contemporary knowledge and skills requirements of the Advertising Profession”, stated Mrs. Ijedi Iyoha, Acting Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the APCON.
The new syllabus is a product of a painstaking review of the curriculum for the Professional Diploma in Advertising involving inputs and technical reviews by distinguished Advertising practitioners and scholars chaired by Dr. Josef Bel-Molokwu, former Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of APCON and spanning a period of two years.
Ijedi urged prospective candidates for the Professional Diploma in Advertising (PDA) to acquaint themselves with the new syllabus which is available at APCON offices across Nigeria and provided to the candidates upon their enrolment for the examinations.
The Professional Diploma in Advertising (PDA) is the statutory academic qualification for registration as Advertising Practitioner in Nigeria apart from a Bachelors Degree or Higher National Diploma in Mass Communications, Marketing or Graphic Arts obtained from an APCON accredited department /Institution.
International Breweries holds 43rd AGM, announces strategies to boost market success
International Breweries Plc (IB Plc), a proud part of the AB InBev family, the world’s largest brewer, recently announced its unaudited results for its half-year period ended June 30, 2020.
The result, which was just released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) reflected the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria.
As part of the company’s proactive measures, cost of sales maintained a downward trend within the quarter. This was coupled with the stringent cost controls implemented at the beginning of the year and strengthening its credit modalities to better position the company for a return to competitive growth.
While the quarter may not have ended robust enough, the results show that the company made significant progress in some other critical areas as enumerated above which further demonstrates its commitment to build a company that will last by consolidating on the strategies being implemented to get it back on the path to profitability with better returns on investment for its shareholders. In addition, International Breweries continue to gain market share which has propelled it to No. 2 position in Nigeria’s beer sub-sector.
Meanwhile, the company held its 43rd AGM on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at the Legend Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. The meeting was held by proxy, in strict compliance with social distancing rules and directives of both the Federal and Lagos state governments.
The AGM by proxy as approved by the Corporate Affairs Commission was held virtually and shareholders had the opportunity to vote on all the resolutions presented before the meeting, under the chairmanship of Mr. Michael Ajukwu, a non-executive director. The meeting was live-streamed on YouTube, giving access to stakeholders to be part of the meeting, indicative of the company’s transparency.
Dufil Group brands clinch prizes at Pitcher Awards 2020
CHINI Africa, Cannes Lions official festival representative in Nigeria and organisers of the Pitcher Awards have announced Nigeria’s number one noodles brand, Indomie Instant noodles and Power Oil from Dufil Prima Foods Plc, as the 2020 winners of the prestigious Pitcher Awards Advertiser of the Year and the Public Relations and Reputation Management categories respectively.
The 2020 edition of the festival received entries from countries across Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Cape Verde, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The Pitcher Awards was presented to the brand during an online ceremony held on the 4th of July, 2020. The Awards ceremony was part of a series of events called “Pitcher Festival of Creativity,” including seminars, exhibitions and academy programmes designed to celebrate and promote creativity in Africa.
Since its introduction to the Nigerian market Dufil Prima Foods products have become household names in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Over the years, the company has created several stories that have strongly resonated with all categories of audience, including children and mothers. Some of their most successful campaigns went beyond promoting the product to arousing self-discovery, self-expression, and personal development among consumers.