The Human side of marketing

The IMM Graduate School | The Human side of marketingMarket Business News explains that marketing is “the activities of a business related to buying and selling a product or service. It involves finding out what consumers want and determining whether it is possible to produce it at the right price.” Additionally, marketing allows for the introduction and promotion of a service or a product to any potential customers. Considering a business revolves around its customers, without (successful) marketing, the business will fail.

Modern marketing focuses on engaging with customers on an emotional level by building trust, telling meaningful stories and showcasing the human side of a brand.

Human vs. non-human interactions

In the realm of chatbots, instant messaging, social media and artificial intelligence, most interactions can be done without ever talking to a human.

Interactions between the brand and its customers can be human or non-human. Non-human interaction refers to when customers search for information on the web or visit a website as opposed to human interaction, where the customer meets with a sales rep. Alternatively, online forums and webinars are also considered human interactions.

For brands to be successful, they must put their customers and employees and the core of their marketing strategy. For a business to show its human side, they can apply the following strategies:

  • One of the best ways to show the human side of a brand is to focus on the people who work there. An important part of telling a brand’s story is showcasing the personalities of those who help to make the business successful. This not only gives the business a face, it also builds employee morale by making them feel valued. To do this, publicly acknowledge an employee’s work on social media and be sure to tag them in the post.
  • Provide customers with an opportunity to engage with the brand on a personal level, share their opinions and provide feedback. Create polls on social media and ask customers to weigh in.
  • Give customers a “behind the scenes” look at the business. This allows customers to feel like they are part of the team. They will also get a better idea of the brand’s culture and whether or not its values are in line with their own. Post videos and photos of company events on social media and go live during special business events.
  • Ensure that your online interactions with customers are of the same quality as the face-to-face conversations. This means consistent messaging, staying true to the brand’s values and keeping promises. If a brand takes pride in its speed and efficiency, be sure to respond to phone calls, emails and social media messages in a timely manner.
  • Lastly, nothing says “human” like making a mistake. As a brand, by admitting to any mistakes you might make, your customers will have more respect for the business. You can either make a sincere apology on social media or if your mistake has a humorous tone to it, find the humour and laugh off your mistakes alongside your customers.

Why human interaction trumps digital ones

According to Retail Dive, “70% consumers surveyed about their customer service preferences said they would rather speak to a human customer service representative than engage with a digital customer service rep or chatbot”.

Read the article here: https://www.retaildive.com/news/70-of-consumers-still-want-human-interaction-versus-bots/543324/

Every interaction a customer has with a brand is a form of customer experience that, if handled correctly, can boost brand awareness and engagement. Automated responses are often limited so, especially when trying to report a specific problem, customers prefer speaking to a person from the start to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

Delving into the African truth

To truly get to grips with marketing to the modern African consumer it is essential to realise that you are appealing to a “peculiar” audience. Throw away the theories and rules that you thought you knew and spend more time studying the behaviour of these consumers.

“It is no longer about building a product or marketing it, it is about building solutions to answer the real African problem and productising these solutions,” says Allen Kambuni of Kenyan-based Bean Interactive.

Speaking at a recent Pan African Media Organisation (PAMRO) conference held in Lagos, Nigeria, Kambuni challenged the audience — comprising media, advertising and marketing delegates — to delve into “the African truth” and apply design thinking aimed at solving problems instead of trying to apply a formal sector or class approach to a broader African audience.

Demographics are no longer relevant

According to Kambuni, targeting an audience based on demographics is no longer relevant. “It’s easy to say ‘sports is a man’s game; gaming is for kids; women are homemakers; and men buy cars’, but when we look at the facts, 60% of sporting goods shoppers who engaged with relevant You Tube content are female; 45% of video game searchers are older than 35; 40% of home goods searchers are men; and 60% of auto searchers on mobile are female. Targeting based on demographics is no longer effective. Today it is all about signals. What is your audience telling you about their preference?”

By way of example, Kambuni spoke about a Kenyan nappy manufacturer who wanted to know how his company could increase sales. He spent time in a slum area in Nairobi simply observing. What he noticed was that during the day parents let their children run around “free” without a nappy; only at night did they put a nappy on them, to go to bed. To cater for the practical and economic needs of this sector, the manufacturer began selling the nappies in singles instead of just bulk packs.

“In Kenya, this is what we call the Kadago economy,” Kambuni says. “Matching modern trade to proximity trade, to match the growth of the spaza.”

Finding African solutions

“When it comes to finding solutions most people in Africa have cut their teeth in an environment of scarcity. No one is waiting around for the government to offer solutions. Ask anyone from Nairobi: it’s about taking what you’ve got and making the most of it. [As marketers and advertisers] we must stop trying to take a solution that fits in the western world and forcing it to fit. It won’t. An example is in the DRC Congo, the robots there actually wave. It’s an African solution that may seem mercurial elsewhere, but it’s sustainable here.”

Typical customer experience journeys are built on what people can do, but the African customer experience journey is built on what people can’t do.  “We need to reach audiences based on their need in the moment to provide simple solutions that change the way they live,” says Kambuni.

This can be seen in a recent shift noticed by researchers at Nielsen, where people are moving away from hypermarkets and reverting to shopping at local spazas and shops. It’s hardly surprising, given the excessive rise in fuel and transport costs recently; as a result, people don’t want to travel, instead preferring shops close to where they live or commute.

Even within more structured shopping outlets like malls, shoppers are demanding “proximity, efficiency, in-the-moment rewards and additional services.”

Digital and e-commerce can play a critical role

Digital and e-commerce can play an important role in this by providing on-demand two-way interactions through easy to use apps and addressable advertising.

Internet banking is huge in Africa. According to a study by the World Bank in 2014, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cote de Ivoire and Zimbabwe were ranked in the top six in the world for percentage of account holders who made a transaction on mobile in the previous 12 months — coming in ahead of South Korea, the United States, Sweden and Australia respectively. Digital has opened up banking in areas it wasn’t previously easily accessible.

E-commerce is also thriving. In Nigeria, 65% of internet users shop online and 24 % say they intend to in the future, which means that 89% of online users are potential online shoppers. In South Africa, this number is 70% and in Kenya, 60%.

An example of where digital is catering directly to its consumers’ needs is OTM, a Kenyan retail disruptor that gives instant access to branded household goods and offers credit and discounts, packaged in easy-to-use apps. “With access to over 300 000 traditional trade outlets, OTM will be able to offer valuable data and insights into untapped consumer opportunities and behavioural trends,” Kambuni says.

“In Africa digital is neither explorative or exploitative. It’s what we eat, live and need to survive. The companies that will survive in the next couple of decades of Africa need to delve deep into the data that defines this new population.”