8 Marketing & Communications Trends to Guide Business Strategy for African Businesses in 2021: Part II

  • by Nkemdilim Uwaje-Begho
  • Mar 31, 2021
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Day 12 of 2021 and what a year it has already been…from all indications we are in for a very interesting ride in 2021. Maybe even more interesting than 2020…

Especially for African brands 2021 will be a year to regain momentum lost during the tumultuous 2020, however brands will also be challenged to meet fast-changing consumer behaviours and evolving market trends. With so much on the line and so many changes to the status quo, it’s more important than ever to be armed with accurate, meaningful insights to guide your strategy and create winning programs.

In Part I of this article, I highlighted key strategy lessons to learn from 2020 and how to use them to accelerate business growth in the new year — these were taken from a discussion I had with Ijeoma Balogun PR Expert and CEO Redrick PR and Bella Ikeme Marketing Expert and CEO Caizen BDC — titled Through The Line Africa — A Conversation with PR, Digital & Marketing Experts— you can watch the recording here.

Don’t miss out!

Watch it to get the full gist….or keep reading….I am going to share….

8 Marketing & Communications Predictions for 2021

to further guide you on the path to measurable growth and sustainable success:

1. Agility is Essential Still & Collaboration is Key

The best laid plans are great, but be nimble, able to respond to change over following a plan especially when it’s clear that it’s not working. African businesses need to encourage this way of thinking across board as rapid iterations over big-bang campaigns might be best suited especially when those curveballs come along. Collaboration over silos and hierarchy — 2021 is not the year to want to do it alone.

2. Understanding the difference between your target market and your target audience is key to business strategy.

Simply put, your target market is the group of people your product or service is intended for, while the target audience is a group within your target market that has a significant potential to respond positively to your brand message. It’s important to understand the difference and target accrodingly.

3. Data-driven segmentation and targeting.

Data is key to personalization and segmentation. Brands and businesses need to combine data sources to build 360 customer profiles that allow for hyper personalization and deeper levels of engagement.

Data enables brands to curate product and service recommendations, content, and marketing messages to each individual lead. This in turn will ensure higher levels of engagement and conversion.

4. Personalisation. Personalisation. Personalisation.

In 2021 it’s time to shift the focus from the brand to the customer journey, as brands are expected to forge deeper personal connections. We say psychographics over demographics and putting in the work to create individualised experiences will be immediate winners.

If you have your doubts, here are a few statistics to prove this:

63% of consumers are highly annoyed with generic advertising blasts…including me!

80% say they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences…say I if you feel the same way.

90% claim they find personalization appealing…ok, ok…I think you get it.

5. Truly inclusive marketing is on the rise

We have all noticed that brands globally have started focusing on diversity and are having inclusive conversations.

As an African brand you often need to engage the diverse communities that you serve and beyond diversity, truly inclusive marketing can elevate the stories and voices of people that have been typically marginalized or underrepresented, deepen connections with customers, and even influence positive social change. So it’s a win win if you ask me.

6. Empathy, Authenticity & Social Responsibility will Drive Brand Loyalty.

These are not buzzwords any longer, but the key to brand success. Customers want to know that brands “get them”. They want brands to feel their challenges and celebrate their wins in a natural way that does not feel forced or contrived.

They want brands to feel friendly, comfortable and trustworthy. It’s a feeling of “Yes, this is me” that taps into customer identity and lets brands establish connections almost like friendships.

People want to make a connection with your brand — your brand narrative has to resonate on an individual level, each and every time. Customers also expect brands to care about the environment and the communities in which they operate.

Social responsibility and authenticity are critical cornerstones of effective branding. In the wake of the pandemic which continues to rage havoc, their importance remains indisputable.

How are you impacting your community? What is your company culture? How do you treat your staff? What is the policy towards women, and other minority groups? Consumers want to know you care, and you have to show them that you care.

Research also shows that even before the pandemic and all the other social issues that 2020 threw up, Gen Z customers and younger millennials are particularly passionate about brands with a purpose. Would you really want to alienate such a major customer base?

Look into the future, constantly thinking of ways to capture the next generation of consumers. Do not neglect them — seek engagements points, and start engaging.

7. Customer Experience (CX) is EVERYTHING!

Brands will need to customize customer communication and experiences based on their preferences, interests, and behavior. From a contactless customer experience, to the use of AI and chatbots and constant audits to optimise the customer journey — this is the NOW.

Take the time to fully understand your customer touchpoints, buying objections, consumer behaviour etc. and optimize the CX daily.

Today’s customer expects to find what they’re looking for now, not later. As we prepare for the future, it will be more important than ever for businesses to be available across a broad spectrum of channels, and to make sure you’re communicating according to customer preference.

Conversational Marketing through one on one interactions with your customers, using real time responses and engagement to increase conversions.

Here are some of the trends we are seeing that are driving customer engagement:

  • The Digital Storefront — we are going to continue to see the rising role of LIVE streams in ecommerce through LIVE product demos, LIVE Q&As, Influencers showcasing brands…).
  • VR & AR: Snapchat has announced a new, $3.5 million AR creator fund to help power the next stage of AR development and Facebook has a new AR creator platform…time to take a hint.
  • AI / Chatbots taking centre stage for: Basic communication, Product recommendations, Content creation, Email personalization, E-commerce transactions, Programmatic advertising and Semantic Search…so make sure you understand the technologies and use cases in order to give your brand that edge.

8. Integrated Marketing Communications

IMC is a proven approach that is centred on the customer creating a single, seamless and omni-channel brand experience as customers interact with the brand. It unifies all marketing communications (online and offline advertising, sales promotion, events, PR, direct marketing and social media).

It does this through combining their tactics, methods, channels, messaging and activities, ensuring that they work together in perfect synergy. An integrated approach is essential to win in 2021 as it enables the following sub-trends, which have begun to cause positive disruptions to the new normal for doing business:

It’s a Marathon, not a sprint. Brands must have a long term outlook across strategy, marketing and communications, but with enough agility to achieve short term deliverables seamlessly.

New job functions across the organisation that need to be considered, especially based on your strategy and what you require e.g, Social Media & Community Manager, Content Marketing Manager, Email Marketing Manager, Product Marketing Manager, Lead Generation Manager or Marketing Operations Manager (my personal favourite).

Brand sustenance strategies are moving to the forefront, across strategy, marketing and communications. It is no longer simply about brand awareness, sales and conversions.

  • Be Genuine — Project a Clear & Identifiable Persona
  • Be Unique — Please don’t be arrogant about the competition or substitutes not being a threat. Do the hard internal work and ask ‘why would anyone come to you over the competition?’ and when you discover it, make sure to communicate this every chance you get.
  • Offer Value — Over Promise and Over Deliver. Let the customer be completely immersed in your brand experience. Only happy and satisfied customers refer.
  • Integrate the frontline and the back end across online and offline channels — Record and maintain data so you can keep making informed decisions about your business.

The above trends could be adopted individually but for best results should all be adopted, as separate moving parts to propel your brand machine forward.

We know you may require further assistance to accelerate to win in 2021 and beyond, so Ijeoma, Bella and I have something for you — www.scali.ng.

What is Scali.ng?

We have developed workshops, trainings and materials from our experience working across sectors and our deep yearning to assist businesses in Nigeria to navigate through yet to be understood, but necessary terrain, in order to propel them to a target state of optimum combined online and offline marketing communications required to grow and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

Visit www.scali.ng for more information on how to sign up for an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Strategy Development Workshop 2021: A Proven Approach to Position Better, Grow Fast, Generate More Leads and Be More Profitable.


Nkemdilim Uwaje-Begho

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