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Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data

Data-driven marketing has been around for quite some time now i.e. using big-data processing technology to segment markets, identify target markets and develop customised marketing communications to those markets. We collect this information in various ways including but not limited to:

  • Cookies: These store small amounts of user data and helps companies to track site visitors and personalise web pages.
  • Credit or loyalty cards: Data collected from loyalty and credit cards tell retailers how many times a certain item was sold. This information can be used by marketers to target customers based on their purchase history.
  • Social media profiles: Depending on a consumer’s privacy settings, their social media profiles can give marketers a lot of information. On Facebook for instance, if a consumer’s profile is set you ‘public’ and assuming they entered the information, you could see their employment status, relationship status, interests, photos, current city, and even their political views (USA) and in some cases, contact information can be accessed.

The general opinion has been that the more information you have the better you can target your market and that consumers would happily give up this information so as to get more personalised marketing or at the very least consider it the price of access to a site or online platform.

Consumers are increasingly concerned with data privacy

However, the message we are increasingly getting from consumers is that they are becoming more aware and concerned about their data privacy. As the average consumer is becoming more tech-savvy and aware of their data privacy rights they are becoming more engaged with controlling who has access to their data and what it is being used for. This is particularly prevalent in younger generations as shown below:

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data b

Concerns about data privacy by generation

Factual privacy survey (2019)

Specifically, the polled consumers in a survey by Factual (2019) indicated concerns in the following areas:

  • Identity theft and fraud — 72%
  • Stolen passwords — 64%
  • Not knowing what personal information is being used for — 59%
  • Information being sold for profit — 54%
  • Location tracking — 53%

Consumers want personalisation

On the flipside of the coin consumers do want a more personal and customised experience, just not as much as we thought. The same survey showed the top five places consumers wanted personalised content and the percentage who wanted it :

  • Google — 44%
  • Amazon — 42%
  • Email — 40%
  • Facebook — 39%
  • Mobile apps — 29%

It is worth noting that none of these were more than 50% 

So why the paradox?

So why is there an apparent disconnect between consumers wanting a personalised experience and not wanting to divulge the personal information that makes it possible? The answer lies in the perception of who benefits from the personal data. Roughly 63% of consumers believe that brands benefit from consumer data collection and only 44% believe that consumers do:

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data C

Factual privacy survey (2019)

What this means is that the majority of consumers don’t believe providing their personal data improves their experience or benefits them in any meaningful way. A further revelation is that consumers are more willing to give personal data depending on the type of site/app requesting it:

Types of companies that consumers comfortable sharing data with

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data D

Factual privacy survey (2019)

What does it all mean?

This survey along with others are clearly indicating that consumers are increasingly viewing their personal data as an asset that has value and must be safeguarded from those who will misuse it but can be traded for benefits. Consumers want to know who is getting the information, what it is being used for and how it will benefit them. Therefore, in order to succeed in gathering data from these weary consumers, brands and marketers are going to have to be more transparent about what they are using the data for and must give consumers more control over what information they part with.

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African consumer prosperity: Big dreams or actual spend?

When it comes to whether Sub-Saharan African consumers are feeling more prosperous and how this influences their propensity to purchase, Nielsen Africa MD Bryan Sun says markets are significantly polarised in terms of feeling ‘better off’. It is therefore imperative to dig deeper to gain a comprehensive understanding of how consumers truly feel about improvements to their lives and the impact this will have on their purchasing behaviour.

Across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) there are a considerable number of consumers who feel optimistic about improvements in their quality of life and financial wellbeing, despite their relatively lower levels of income and limited advancements in personal economic and living conditions. Forty-one percent of Nigerians and 38% of Kenyans display a positive outlook based on their quality of life sentiment, while 50% of South Africans base theirs on financial wellbeing (higher than the European average of 37%).

In SSA’s developing markets, what may seem like slight changes can have a deep impact on consumer lifestyles and outlooks, for example, upgrading their feature phone to a smartphone, improvements in connectivity, or the ability to purchase better quality, staple food products. These small advancements can make a big impression on consumers’ quality of life, day-to-day interactions and how they are able to provide for their families and translates into more upbeat perceptions about their wellbeing.

Underlying this more optimistic outlook, an even larger proportion of consumers are feeling upbeat about their immediate financial outlook. Eighty percent in Nigeria, 77% in Ghana, 65% in Kenya and 61% of consumers in South Africa consider their finances to be ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ for the upcoming 12 months.

Counter conditions

As with most things consumer related, the situation is complex given that SSA is highly fragmented when it comes to feelings of prosperity. There are substantial numbers of consumers at the opposite end of the prosperity spectrum within the same countries. In terms of those feeling ‘worse off’, Nigeria and Kenya rank in the bottom 10 global markets, together with Greece, Ukraine, Argentina and Japan.

The effects of this are reflected in the fact that 45% of African and Middle Eastern consumers say they have enough for the basics and 43% say they live comfortably, and only 12% feel that they are able to spend freely.

Reality check

With divergent consumer sentiment, it’s clear that despite some of the highest global levels of GDP growth in many SSA markets, this hasn’t yet translated into broader feelings of prosperity and spending ability. The reasons become more apparent when digging further into some of the macro-economic indicators.

Average per capita GDP in SSA has not kept pace with global gains, growing on average at 2.3% versus the global average of 3.1% (per 25 years). Real wages have also declined in Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya over a 10-year period.

Positivity is also swayed by consumers’ perceptions of inflation, reflected in the day-to-day price changes of goods they are especially familiar with. The reality is that medium to short term inflation has improved in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, but the lingering perception of rising prices remains strong. For example, in Nigeria, despite inflation recovering substantially from a high of 20% in 2016 to currently below 14%, 91% of Nigerians still perceive food prices as increasing and 60% said they buy only essentials and are cutting back on luxuries.

The ‘recency’ phenomenon also has a profound effect on emergent market sentiment, where consumers often live hand to mouth and therefore don’t have a transparent and impartial longer term view of whether their circumstances have improved. For them, every day may be a struggle, so often their point of reference is whether today was better than yesterday or last week. This precludes a viable, longer term assessment of overall improvement in their lives.

While many consumers’ circumstances are improving, it’s not at the rate that macro indicators would suggest. Therefore, even though many are feeling more prosperous, that doesn’t yet mean they have the ability to spend significantly more as the positive effects of this will take time to truly touch their everyday lives.

Progressive spending

Despite polarised prosperity sentiment and slow reaching economic elements, the outlook for consumer spending is positive. More than four in 10 consumers in Nigeria (44%) and Ghana (43%), and over a quarter of consumers in South Africa (30%) and Kenya (27%) consider the present a good time to buy what they need or want. In addition, a quarter (23%) of SSA retailers say this is reflected in increasing in-store spend, and 42% believe it is about the same as five years ago.

Though current economic times are tough in many SSA countries, consumer spending shows an upward trend. In Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya Q4’2018 Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) volume and value growth is positive and outstripped annual growth levels, pointing to ongoing opportunities.

All realities considered, Africa’s consumers are still seeking new and better products; for example, 66% of SSA consumers are more willing to try new products today, up from 63% five years ago. Even though a massive portion of the continent’s consumers don’t have a huge amount of money, there are plenty of highly aspirational consumers across the income scale that are able to spend in different ways.

Diverse influencing factors

This has created unique sets of Sub-Saharan consumers with a diverse range of influencing factors when it comes to their propensity and ability to purchase. Upper or lower income consumers who feel worse off are looking for value for money products, while those who are feeling more prosperous look for better quality products, and often those associated with premium characteristics.

This makes for a highly challenging environment for manufacturers and retailers trying to develop and sell products that appeal to these disparate mind-sets, within highly fragmented markets. This emphasises the fact that for businesses to realise the range of opportunities that do exist, it will be dependent on bringing the right products and services at the right prices, across the value and premium product innovation spectrum.

Five reasons to prioritise sustainability in your brand’s playbook

Five reasons to prioritise sustainability in your brand’s playbook

By Julia Wilson 

Increasingly consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to discern between true commitment to sustainability and action taken just for show. And they’re not afraid to call out that lack of authenticity on social media, in conversations with friends, or in any other channel.

This has made some brands hesitant – afraid of the brutal consumer backlash against well-intentioned efforts. Others are still sustainability sceptics. In our work with clients, I often hear, “Yes, consumers say they want sustainability, but will this actually boost my bottom line?”

There is a wealth of evidence that proves sustainability can boost the bottom line. In fact, when sustainability initiatives are integrated thoughtfully into the strategic plan, it can do everything from streamlining the supply chain to unlocking a new level of consumer love and loyalty. In our recent report, What’s Sustainability Got To Do With It?, we took a look at three categories: chocolate, coffee, and bath products, and found that sustainability boosted sales and units sold across the board.

Whether you’re well on your way or just starting to incorporate sustainability into your strategy, our latest global sustainability report, Consumers Buy the Change they Wish to See in the World, underscores these five reasons for doubling down:

Sustainability encourages a culture of innovation, pushing you to embrace new methods, technologies and ideas. Sustainability is a way to build authenticity, creating more transparency in your supply chain. Sustainability is a consumer-centric strategy. It requires you to understand and empathise with the concerns your consumers have, and how your brand can be a solution to help make their lives better.

Sustainability drives greater efficiency. For example, many companies set commitments to move towards manufacturing processes that reduce waste, requiring investment in research and development and sometimes the overhaul of supply chains. That upfront investment can pay off as your business benefits from a more efficient process and enhanced reputation.

The positive effects of sustainability are good for us, and they make us feel good too. That goodwill can cut across your employees, consumers, and other stakeholder groups.

Incorporating sustainability

One of the major challenges we hear companies express is knowing that sustainability is important, but not having a strategic plan for incorporating it into their brand or across the full product portfolio. The word ‘sustainability’ has increasingly become a catch-all term that, depending on the context, can encompass everything from environmental conservation to employee relations, and much more. Thus, for any company, it can seem daunting to incorporate all of these factors into their overall business strategy, and figure out

how it fits into their consumer marketing approach.

Create a sustainability strategy that’s authentic for you and your consumer

To do it right, companies need to invest in truly understanding their consumers and embed sustainability into their brand’s foundation. Authenticity comes through the end-to-end integration of sustainability into your processes and complete transparency with consumers along the way. That means pushing beyond feel-good marketing and labels on packaging to a fully integrated, interdepartmental execution. It requires collaboration across many teams, from sourcing and sustainability, to category managers and marketing leaders. Winning requires that sustainability be part of your short- and long-term strategic planning from start to finish.

Investing in sustainability is undoubtedly an individual journey for brands that can be impacted by industry, geography, product portfolio, community commitments and other factors. We’ve seen success when companies take a tailored approach consisting of multi-stakeholder engagement, cross-functional accountability and transparency along the way. For many brands, this approach will enable consumers to take note at the shelf, and in turn reward the brand along their path to purchase.

Marketing gold at the tips of mobile fingers

The IMM Graduate School | Marketing gold at the tips of mobile fingers webOpinions offer brands an opportunity to tap into the minds of consumers who now, more than ever before, demand authentic communication and transparency from the makers of the products and services they use, writes Tanya van Tonder.

Access to social media has elevated consumers over corporate marketing. Armed with their smartphones, they have a powerful voice, which they’re only too happy to use.

Consumers are unforgiving and vocal when companies let them down or run campaigns perceived as disrespectful, and often turn to social media to vent their disapproval. All of which makes brands more vulnerable to consumer sentiment.

But mobile can be a brand’s best friend – if marketers harness the power of those platforms and voices to gauge the opinions of consumers BEFORE they go ahead with campaigns that might offend people. Technology, used properly, can do that. Mobile offers real-time access to thousands of connected consumers.

Traditional media research is an important tool for marketers and brand managers, despite the time it takes to conduct, and the costs involved. With budgets stretched as tightly as they are, marketers need to know whether an idea is going to fly or flop – fast.

But because most consumers these days live frenetically busy digital and real lives, marketers need to be able to proactively access them in an instant.

Opinions in an instant

Mobile technology research company, Opinion Solutions, was created for this very reason. The company makes it easy to engage consumers who want to feel part of the decision-making process, who want to engage with brands and who appreciate transparency by maximising the power of social media to engage in real-time conversations with consumers.

With misinformation and fake news so much a part of daily life, the issue of trust is top of mind for consumers, who need to feel safe in giving their opinions, and trust that the platform used to survey them is secure.

Thousands of survey recipients are registered on the Opinion Solutions platforms. These are consumers who are comfortable enough to have a conversation, be it for ad hoc qualitative and exploratory research, or within branded private panels specific to a target market that would be involved in ongoing product development or concept testing. It’s not a hit or miss affair, but a deeply refined process, honed and developed as technology evolves.

Agility is a key strength

With exclusive rights to the Upinion mobile research app in Africa, Opinion Solutions is playing a whole new ballgame as it is global and accesses literally billions of consumers for in-the-moment mobile conversations and surveys. It can be customised for research groups and allows users to find respondents via Facebook Messenger or their Facebook pages. Results are published on a real-time dashboard. Respondents can be incentivised, too, via free products, vouchers and coupons.

Another aspect to consider is that speed to market is essential. The rapid pace of innovation has resulted in shorter product lifecycles, so the risk of delay can scupper the best laid marketing plans. Having the relevant consumer insights at the ready speeds up the process from conversation to implementation, giving brands a competitive edge through an affordable, flexible, effective research tool. In this fast-moving world, agility is a key strength. Being able to react to new market conditions, to quickly gain insights into what consumers think, and then act on it is vital for businesses wanting to stay ahead of their competitors.