Consumers have been empowered by the internet. According to Internet World Stats as at June 2019, 58.8% of the world had access to internet, which is about 4.5 billion people. Greater access to information has given people more choices. This has made the market place more competitive.
Businesses can no longer depend on one means of communication. There is need to use a wide array of communications tools and variety creates complexity. How to effectively target and reach your target market is now an everyday challenge.
Consumer understanding can no longer be treated as a tick box exercise, but must be a data driven scientific process. Communications strategies must be informed by data. All consumer touch points are potential data sources and it is imperative that organizations adopt the right tools to harvest, sort and analyse data.
The emergence of social media has led many organizations to focus their big data investments on mining social media. There are now more than 50 million small businesses using Facebook Pages to connect with their customers (Source: Facebook). 4 million of those businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook. (Source: Forbes) However, brands interact with consumers in many other ways. To fully benefit from communications efforts companies must integrate all their communications in a well-coordinated manner. The data must be mined and analysed to get actionable consumer insights.
Research has shown that the path to purchase is not linear and consumers interact with the brand through various touch points before making a purchase decision. Thus, by adopting an integrated marketing approach brands are able to ensure their message is consistent across all touch points. The risk is, if the messages are created using wrong insights, brand messaging will consistently be wrong. In a study carried out, 80% of companies online are under the impression that they deliver exceptional social media customer service, while only 8% of their customers say that they agree. (Source: Smart Insights). Hence, marketing communications has to be approached from a scientific stand point to minimize the risk of failure.
The Cambridge analytical case shows that art has been over taken by science. The effectiveness of a message is no longer solely dependent on its creativity, but rather how it is packaged and delivered to the consumer. The emergence of behavioural science further points to the fact that marketing communications is now a science.
What does this mean for the Zimbabwean marketer? Agency briefs should no longer be predominately word documents based on a brand manager’s wish list and unsubstantiated insights. They must be data driven insights that can be scientifically proven. The client agency relationship must evolve to a point were the agency has greater visibility of sales and market data. Agencies must invest in data mining and analytics to guide the creative process. As these changes are adopted Zimbabwean brands will be better placed to compete globally. As it stands, they are just small fish in a very small pond that is getting smaller by the day.