Globally and domestically brands are faced with the critical question: how do we ensure brand relevance, loyalty and brand awareness among both existing and new consumers?
Specifically in a South African context with a developing market, it’s becoming imperative to develop strategies for engaging both high-end and low-end consumers. Growth is limited if brands fail to penetrate the ever expanding emerging market. Take East Coast Radio for example; our core target market is LSM 9 – 10.
This market is our bread and butter and they are very brand loyal. This market is highly satisfied with the brand offering (89% level of satisfaction) and generally don’t like any brand changes. They’re of the view – why fix something if it’s not broken?
However, this market is highly saturated, with over 80% penetration. So the room for growth is limited. In order to reach low-market consumers in the emerging market of LSM 6 – 8, we need to evolve our product offering to attract the new market but be mindful to not alienate our core market. For ECR success is determined by the growth in RAMS, maintaining the current number of LSM 9-10 and at the same time growing the emerging market in line with the population size of this market.
So how do we go about achieving this? As a brand our campaigns are aimed at using different platforms to both dominate and retain our core market (in which we are market leaders) and to acquire the emerging market, which is fast growing in KwaZulu-Natal.
For a brand like ours, consumer understanding and insights are critical. Anecdotal views can easily collapse your business; science and art have to work hand in hand. ECR is deliberate about how to target both these markets; we believe that finding platforms that speak to both of these markets in their own environment is the best approach.
This is done through using different platforms, such as on air product, digital and events. We need to be the fabric of their daily lives. It’s now more important than ever for brands to be authentic about the consumer experience that they offer, as this ensures that the target market can genuinely relate to your brand at every touch point.
Ahead of the innovation curve
Furthermore, brands have to be constantly innovative and offer something new in order to stand out. In my view, successful companies are those that are always ahead of the innovation curve and therefore ahead in terms of serving their consumers needs. However, not too far ahead that that can leave a void for the competition to creep in. For a brand such as ECR, it is important to continuously evolve and adapt in the changing business environment we operate in to keep us relatable and relevant.
Brands developing strategies based on WHY they exist and WHAT the problem is that they are addressing always win. Especially if the strategy is underpinned by human truths versus the brand targeting consumers based on demographics. This means brands need to have a heightened responsibility to connect with consumers authentically without compromising who and what the brand stands for. Ultimately the benefit is that innovative brands do not age, they remain relevant for generations.
A simultaneous retention and acquisition strategy requires a balancing act. As brand custodians, it is very important to be mindful of not alienating your existing market in the quest of acquiring the new markets. In most cases these markets are different, however as marketers, it is important to successfully find a sweet spot for both high-end and low-end consumers and common factors that binds both markets authentically.
Boni Mchunu is general manager at East Coast Radio. She joined the station in 2015 from Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN), where she served as the marketing general manager for eight years. Before joining TKZN, Boni served in a brand management capacity at Unilever for seven years, overseeing the marketing of fast-moving consumer goods.
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