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Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – March 2021

Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – March 2021


This issue of the Journal of Strategic Marketing went live just a couple of days after South Africa marked a year in various levels of lockdown.

A year such as 2020 demands reflection on so many levels: how society has changed and is managing this change, the wide-ranging impact on education, the need for digital transformation to speed up and the divide to be bridged as soon as possible, how business is responding to a different world and how innovation and agility has never been more important. And these are just a few issues to ponder.

The pandemic threw supply chains into sharp relief as it disrupted the flow of goods across the globe. And these vital highways for the movements of goods and services were once again in focus after Covid-19 vaccines were formulated, and it became clear that efficient supply chains were needed to move them around the world under terribly strict conditions incorporating the use of cold chains.

Nachi Mendelow, in his piece on how Africa’s supply chains are transforming and overcoming infrastructural challenges to ensure the vaccine’s safe passage, reckons these new supply chains – digital and physical – will change how Africa does business in the future, streamlining them, facilitating cross-border communications, and mostly, ensuring they are sustainable. And speaking of Africa, we’ve also taken a look at how the African consumer has changed over the past year, based on research by GeoPoll.

The digital supply chain is taking a more prominent role, as described in our story, ‘Three principles to reinforce digital trust in supply chains’. ‘Trust’ is a keyword where the Covid-19 vaccine is concerned, and the way in which it is transported and stored has to reassure every single one of us that it was kept safe and secure.

After a recent and controversial Advertising Regulatory Body (ARB) decision to ban a Windhoek beer ad starring the macho Gerard Butler, we asked the question: Is political correctness taking the creativity and humour out of advertising? The answers make for some fascinating reading.

And then we’ve looked at the resurgence of email as a powerful marketing channel. Email newsletters are no longer static communications. They’re shoppable, technologically enabled and can build on personalisation, a powerful combination all in all.

In reflecting on 2020, education too was top of mind. With the outlook on 2021 still opaque, some parents and potential students are reluctant to commit to a formal university year. Many are encouraging their offspring to volunteer, and to develop their skills by undertaking online courses in preparation for a possibly more stable 2022.

Online short courses really come into play now as matriculants, recent graduates and even those in employment test their interests and expand horizons they might not even have realised were there and upgrade their skills to deal with a world being transformed before their eyes.

The IMM Graduate School has introduced several new short courses, undergraduate and post-graduation programmes designed to help students traverse this new world with confidence.

How 2021 will roll out is still unclear. What is clear, though, is that marketing the future is an exciting space, and that the opportunity to learn new skills to traverse this new world with confidence shouldn’t be underestimated.

Glenda Nevill

1 - Creativity in advertising

Is political correctness stifling creativity and humour in advertising?

The recent banning of a Windhoek beer ad featuring movie action man Gerard Butler inspired many a conversation. Some say it was harmless, just men in a bar being men. Others believe it was darker, and a fine example of toxic masculinity at play. GLENDA NEVILL asks the Advertising Regulatory Body and advertising agencies whether political correctness is taking the creativity and humour out of advertising.

The banning of the Windhoek beer ad by the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) resulted in “unprecedented” and “vitriolic” attacks on Twitter. This is true of other ads deemed racist, sexist, ageist or any other frequently offensive ‘ist’. It is also true that many ad campaigns are guilty of gender stereotyping, and that the advertising industry has time and again promised to address this ongoing issue.

“In every single industry event that I have attended in the last three years, there has been at least one speaker talking about challenging gender stereotyping in advertising, and how we need to be pro-active and forward thinking and push the boundaries,” says Gail Schimmel, CEO of the ARB. “But actually, when a decision is made that does exactly that, the industry seems to have forgotten all those heated promises that they made.”

2 - Africa Supply Chain

Creating strategic, inclusive and sustainable supply chains in Africa will reap benefits beyond Covid-19

That there are issues around transporting the Covid-19 vaccines around Africa is in no doubt. A lack of infrastructure, remote rural locations, the need for cold chain storage and under-developed supply chains will present challenges. But, says NACHI MENDELOW, if Africa gets this right, it will set the continent upon on a new and more efficient economic path.

Benjamin Kagina, Senior Research Officer for the Vaccines For Africa Initiative housed in UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences, put it in a nutshell when he recently told The Conversation, “Most low-income countries do not have the necessary cold chain infrastructure for storing and distributing this vaccine. Vaccines that require standard refrigeration conditions, like many of those used in existing immunisation programmes in these countries, would be easiest to deliver. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is one.”

Of course, it’s now common knowledge that South Africa’s delivery of one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was declared null and void after scientists said it would be less effective on the South African variant of Covid-19. The country then offered its stash to the African Union for distribution to other countries on the continent.

3 - Digital aSupply Chain

Three principles to reinforce digital trust in supply chains

Cyber-threats are increasing with the transformation of digital life in the wake of the pandemic. A risk-based approach is needed to safeguard the software and systems that underlie digital supply chains. The procurement process, third-party agreements and source code are areas of concern, write GEORGES DE MOURA and CHRISTOPHE BLASSIAU.

The ongoing digital transformation has opened up a whole new way of living and working. As deeper performance insights and new levels of connectivity allow businesses to reap the benefits of breakthrough technologies, the world is becoming faster, more flexible and more efficient.

This shift is creating a global ecosystem where physical and digital things are increasingly connected, from critical infrastructure assets to people and data.

4 - Email Marketing

The rebirth of email as a marketing tool

Email engagement rates in 2020 were higher than they have been in six years. And new functionality and data analysis tools have strengthened email as a marketing and customer communication channel. Brands can now be far more strategic and personalised thanks to having a better understanding of what the end-user likes and wants, writes KARYN STRYBOS.

Even though many businesses might have been tempted to focus primarily on social media activities, the reality is that this, along with public relations and email, must form part of an integrated campaign to be truly effective.

While social media and PR are used to great effect for creating awareness, email can nurture the relationship to conversion and retaining customers thereafter.

5 - Africa Consumer

The impact of Covid-19 on income and consumer habits in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa has not experienced as many Covid-19 cases as other regions. But there has been a significant impact on day-to-day livelihoods, with varying degrees of restrictions across countries. Internal and external trade and tourism almost come to a standstill for vast stretches of time.

In turn, this economic downturn has had ripple effects on many businesses and individuals’ financial situations. A report by GeoPoll in July 2020 found that 76% of people across six countries in sub-Saharan Africa had lost income due to Covid-19, primarily influenced by the large percentage of the population who operate in the informal economy.

As a follow up to GeoPoll’s earlier reports on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa, we conducted the GeoPoll year-end survey evaluating the year that has been and the outlook for 2021.

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NielsenIQ identifies new consumer groups emerging from Covid-19 pandemic

A whopping 78% of South African consumers say they have changed their purchase behaviour since the Covid-19 pandemic began, with no prospect of this returning to 2019 levels anytime soon. These findings stem from a new NielsenIQ study Unlocking Consumption in 2021 that also identified a rapidly growing group of newly constrained consumers who represent 66% of South African shoppers as compared to the 46% global average. The new groups are Existing Constrained, Newly Constrained, Cautious Insulated and Unrestricted Insulated. “The four new groups we’ve identified demonstrate real constraint in consumers’ ability and/or desire to spend freely,” said NielsenIQ Global Intelligence Unit Executive Director, Ailsa Wingfield. “Within this, the newly constrained and cautious insulated consumers represent a massive 84% of consumers who are scrutinising their budgets and changing their consumption behaviour based on the impact Covid-19 has had on their personal circumstances.”

IMM launches Project Management Fundamentals short course

After assessing the needs of the industry, the IMM Graduate School has developed a Project Management Fundamentals short course, designed to teach students how to effectively and efficiently approach and execute projects. Firstly, students will become familiar with the key characteristics and features of projects and explore the role of the project manager, with students being introduced to the 10 general areas of knowledge as set out in the ‘Project Management Body of Knowledge’. Students will also learn about the phases of a corporate strategy, project management methodologies and a feasibility study, which is the initial design stage of any project. Following on from this, students will dive deeply into the project planning process, which lays out the roadmap for the project and shows how the project scope will be achieved. Additionally, the monitoring and control of a project, which involves tracking the actual project performance against the project plan, is taught. Finally, students will come to understand how to plan the time intervals for monitoring and evaluation, monitoring of team performance, monitoring the project budget and other important activities all the way up to the correct procedure to follow when closing a project. Click here for more information on our Project Management short course.

Sir Martin Sorrell on Google’s cutting of the cookies

Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital, his answer to a ‘modern marketing network’, is perfectly placed to deal with Google’s plans for a ‘privacy-first web’. In an interview with The Drum, Sorrell said Google’s move away from third party tracking meant S4 would “thrive in a more disruptive market, and what Google has done is highly disruptive”. He said he scored the Mondelez business with a data and analytics brief. S4’s model is to advise clients on hardware, software and platforms they should be using. “We’re trying to guide people,” he told The Drum.

Loyalty lends a hand to local merchants, new data shows

In an otherwise gloomy economy, data from South Africa’s insights-based QR code payment provider, Zapper, has revealed some encouraging retail trends, giving hope to those who have survived the first year of pandemic challenges. Festive season data gave the company valuable insights into consumer behaviour. “Some of the key trends over the last year have shown the devastating effects of the pandemic – especially in the hospitality space. But they have also shown us how many of the more resilient merchants have turned to tech-based solutions, like the insights provided by loyalty programmes, to drive repeat business and encourage upselling,” said Brett White, CEO of Zapper. And he shared this nugget: “What is interesting, is that while customers were still tipping restaurant servers – with just a small drop off in the average tip percentage across the country, from 8.4% to 7.8% – Gauteng residents remain the most generous tippers when eating out with an average of 9.3% over the last festive season.”