The Opportunity of Branding in South Africa
My message to Brand Marketers in South Africa : What a wonderful opportunity!
We are all aware of the successful transition our country, South Africa, has made over the last 10 years – from minority rule to democracy. We are also very aware of the attendant economic achievements and the access that many more consumers have to the brand choices we make available. In the same instant we remind ourselves of the problems in our South African society – unemployment, poverty, crime and HIV/Aids. It is often the latter consideration that preoccupies us and our consumers – either as a downward spiral of negativity or as a rejection of reality and escapism. For FMCG businesses and marketers in South Africa, I’d like to present another perspective focusing purely on the consumer landscape – South Africa and its consumer demographics and psychographics provides us with an exciting challenge. This is the opportunity and challenge of marketing to a microcosm of the world!
South African consumers, along with our developing world cousins in Brazil, Turkey, Thailand and more latterly China, uniquely cover the full spectrum of the global LSM (Living Standards Measure) continuum. LSM’s are a categorisation of consumers based on their sophistication of living standards; for example LSM 1 will have only a paraffin stove and no water-borne sewage versus LSM 22 which has a number of home personal computers and all that goes along with it. When marketing an FMCG brand like OMO, for example, we have the remarkable challenge of making the brand relevant and available to all consumers along this continuum. What a great opportunity – and one which makes marketers in South Africa highly skilled in the world of global branding!
Let me expand the example of the brand OMO to illustrate this point. The rural washer and the Sandton washer both have the same functional needs – a highly effective washing powder that will remove everyday dirt and stains in the first wash. But the type of “soil” and the wash conditions vary considerably. As such we need to formulate our product to perform in cold, handwash conditions to remove red clay, curry powder and grass stains in these conditions for the rural consumer. We also need to cater for the machine washer who wants a 40° speedy setting to remove grass, tomato and wine stains from her wash. And, we need to deliver the brand at a price point that makes the brand accessible to both consumers – what a great challenge and opportunity!
We all know however, that product performance is only one part of the marketing story. How do we bond our consumers, emotionally, to our brand? Once again, we seek the common insights that the rural mum and the Sandton mum share. One of these is their common commitment to their children’s development and success in life. And so OMO is building a brand that crosses the South African landscape, and indeed the globe, based on the “No stains, no learning” advertising idea. “If you want your kids to develop, you will know that getting dirty is part of the normal development process – encourage them to experiment, and OMO will take care of the stains!” And, once we have the common insight, functional promise and ad idea, we need to reach the consumer through the relevant media and distribution point – which is all highly possible in South Africa.
In this OMO example we illustrate how we can cross a vast continuum of consumers with differing income, living conditions and lifestyles, with one brand. We do this by focusing on the common higher order needs – both functional and emotional – and then tailoring our mix to reach our consumers at a price point, purchase point and media contact that makes us truly relevant.
I have recently returned to South Africa from a Global Brands Director role, where I was responsible for building brands across the globe. My experience of marketing brands in South Africa across our consumer landscape prepared me uniquely to consider consumers in rural India and consumers in downtown Manhattan, USA – and to deliver a brand promise that will commonly appeal. So, my message to Brand Marketers in South Africa : What a wonderful opportunity!
Unilever South Africa (Pty) Ltd
And Chairman Lever Pond’s Pty) Ltd