Perhaps one of the most notable trends in recent years is the changing consumer-brand dynamic. The previous brand-consumer hierarchy has crumbled, replaced with an equalitarian sentiment driven by people who sometimes struggle to make purchase decisions – whether it’s due to financial difficulties, or simply a matter of being spoilt for choice. Brands that survive are those that take the lead in their industries to give potential and current customers exactly what they want, when they want it. We’ve listed what we believe to be the three key drivers for brand success in 2013.
1. Expect more demands from mobile consumers
Consumers expect the brands they do business with to be reachable on the devices they use – whether it’s a mobile phone, a tablet, laptop or pc. Where responsive websites are becoming the norm for businesses that use the internet to reach out to their customers, other mobile technologies, such as Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, or USSD, shouldn’t be ignored – especially by brands that want to keep up with South African and other African feature-phone audiences.
According to a recent Deloitte survey there are now more than 10 million smartphone users in South Africa. Back in 2012 Gartner predicted that, among the brand-relevant growth factors, mobile commerce will continue to grow locally. These findings were preceded by a 2011 InMobi study which found that “59% of South African users have now purchased at least one digital product through their mobile device.”
2. Make way for presumers & custowners
According to trends-website trendwatching.com, 2013 will be the year brands officially welcome presumers and custowners. Presumers are individuals who fund and get involved with products or services before they are produced. In 2012 presumers in the United States spent USD 2.8 billion, up from USD 530 million in 2009. Central to development of a presumer culture is the concept of crowdfunding: individuals pool their money to invest in, and shape ideas. Crowdfunding isn’t a new idea; think online and mobile prompts for disaster-relief donations. What we’ll see more of in 2013, however, is the funding of start-up ventures by the very people who’ll rely on them.
Custowners take the ‘presumer’ idea a step further: these are individuals who invest in the brands they buy from, often with an expected return on their investment to save money.
In both cases above, brands who are open, honest, transparent, less corporate and more human are those who’ll benefit from active interest, participation and donation of their audiences.
3. Conform to social sentiment
Brands that seek to qualify their audiences will do well to remember that audiences, too, qualify the brands they do business with. Among various social drivers for brand uptake, including trust, honesty, and transparency, social awareness is playing an increasingly important role.
According to Forbes, consumers are increasingly demanding social responsibility from brands; sticking a ‘recyclable’ label on products is no longer enough – brands are expected to contribute financially to social and economic wellbeing as consumers actively try to improve the world they live in. The Futures Company 2012 U.S. MONITOR survey indicated that 63% of respondents agreed with the statement, “By choosing to do business with companies that are more socially responsible, I can make a difference in this world.” In an era where there are no digital borders, this sentiment has already started spilling over onto South African screens, and into the minds of local audiences, which means the brands that’ll do best, are often those that help drive the social status quo.
Of the three expected branding trends for 2013 mentioned above, we expect mobile engagement and increased social responsibility to be among the top drivers for most, if not all, businesses in South Africa who’ll do well in the brand arena this year. What do you think?
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