The automotive industry, not just in South Africa but globally, is being disrupted. It is experiencing a new normal, with rapid changes in consumer behaviour, marketing, vehicle financing and manufacturing. In South Africa this is being amplified by socio-political turmoil, depressed economic growth and expected revisions to industrial policy. Advertising agencies, working on automotive company accounts, have to shift their strategies to accommodate these changes. Brett Morris, CEO of FCB, shared his thoughts.
Speaking at a Toyota South Africa Motors event Morris, whose agency manages the Toyota account, detailed a new type of automotive consumer. We all know Millennials and how they consume media and relate to brands (probably the most researched and talked about Generation), but what about African Millennials, ‘Afrilennials’?
“There are certain universal traits that Millennials share, but Afrilennials have their own unique identity. Even though they see themselves as global citizens, they are proud of their African heritage and want to express that, rather than borrow from other cultures. Having been born and grown up in the digital era, they are very comfortable in a sharing economy,” Morris explains.
Having said that, the truth is that there is a duality at play. “Research shows that Afrilennials have a very interesting mix of the typical Millennial’s preference for sharing and co-ownership and a strong desire to catch up on owning assets that they, as a first generation of middle class citizens, can now afford. Very importantly, Afrilennials consume information in bite sizes and at very high speed. They do not crave depth of information or sometimes even truth!” adds Morris.
A definite impact on agency business
Morris agrees that with all these changes and shifts, and the fact that in some places the automotive industry is struggling financially, the business of advertising agencies has been affected. But he believes a clear simple strategy can be used to combat times of recession.
“You will find the more established brands perform best in a recession as they know from previous experience to maintain their marketing spend. These brands are often more trusted than smaller or lesser known brands and they tend to grow their share in recessionary periods – as is the case with Toyota.”
Morris adds that research done by FCB shows that “a recession is actually the most advantageous time for a brand to be bold and claim market share, before the marketing arena becomes more crowded again, share of voice becomes more expensive and customers become more comfortable with risky experimentation away from trusted brands”.
Adapting strategy to this new consumer
So while brands should continue their marketing spend during tough times, agencies need to be aware of how they are positioning advertising for their clients.
“A vehicle is obviously a significant purchase in someone’s life, both financially and also from an emotional point of view. So advertising needs to consider all aspects of the consumer decision journey, much of which happens online,” says Morris. “The relationship with a customer also extends beyond the purchase into the service and maintenance of the vehicle so again it’s important for agencies to work across all these platforms and make sure that the messaging supports these needs individually and as a whole.”
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