Reinvention, Recovery, Resurgence: Changes and how brands adapt – by Emeka Oparah15 views
The Chairman, Lagos State Chapter of NIMN
The Executive Committee
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you on this auspicious occasion of the inauguration of the Lagos Island Chapter of NIMN.
I am particularly excited by the uniqueness of the event considering the times we now live in, the new normal world, which has coincidentally informed the theme of this presentation.
I am excited for 3 reasons:
1. Firstly, I am not a marketing professional, in the strict sense of the word, but I was chosen over and above the top dogs.
2. Secondly, I have worked in a very dynamic, if not fast changing operating environment in the past 18 years or so, so it reminds me of some great things I have done during those years.
3. Thirdly, I’m a firm believer in change-and so every new situation excites me to the extent that it brings out the best in me and my team. And I dare say Covid-19, is indeed a new opportunity to do great things regardless of the challenges it poses to you, me and all of humanity.
So, “Reinvention, Recovery and Resurgence: Changes and how brands adapt.”
I want to share 5 thoughts with you on how brands can adapt to the new normal of C0vid-19. Before I do, I want to make certain points very clearly:
1. Covid-19 is here to stay, like Malaria, HIV, etc. It is going nowhere yet. The world will continue to reverberate with it for another 2-3 years. It will “mutate” from being pandemic to endemic-meaning we will have to live with it forever.
2. The world will have to get used to it and move on. It will become the new normal and people must, therefore, device ways of avoiding it or surviving it. In some sense, it will turn out to be a battle for lives and for livelihoods. While there may never be an agreed trade-off, the reality is that lives will be lost and livelihoods will also be lost. The good thing, however, is that, ironically, lives will be gained (new babies) and new jobs and opportunities will be created.
The question now for us here today is: how will marketing fare in the new-normal, in the disrupted world.
I have 5 thought-starters to share.
1. Contactless Customer Engagement: One phenomenon that will, for a long time, be a major part of the new normal is Social Distancing. For the marketing professional, it will result in far-reaching alterations to Consumer Behaviour especially how, when and where they access goods and services. These alterations will pose new challenges to marketing. For example, customer would rather use ATMs and online banking services than visiting banking halls. People would rather shop online and have the goods delivered to their homes than go to malls and the market. In my own home, my wife has someone in various markets who shop for her for a fee-and she basically send the driver to pick up. At other times, her shopping is delivered to the house. How are marketers going to respond to this? I leave it to you to discuss.
2. A new Advertising Model: It is perhaps one of the classic marketing stories that Coca-Cola continued to advertise through World War 2, even as not much was happening in terms of sales and marketing. This singular smart move kept the company and its products in the hearts and minds of consumers while the war lasted. The Covid-19 pandemic is like a war. We are living literally in a war time era. Things are largely paranormal. People are daily dodging the bullets of the virus. The airwaves are dominated by news and advertising around Covid-19. Marketers are, therefore, challenged to fathom a new advertising model that takes the prevailing circumstances into consideration. For instance, people are spending a lot of time online. You must take the message to them-at their comfort zone(s). Online advertising and television will become the new normal as people spend more time online and on television.
3. Social Media Relations and Social Listening: I recall my days 20-25 years ago way before mobile telephony and social media. We made the media rounds once every week at least and kept heaps of newspapers for cuttings, records and references. All that is gone with mobile phones and social media. With Covid-19, it has gone even farther. Launch events, press conferences, news releases and customer feedback will be mainly via technology and social media. The use of online video platforms like Zoom, Facebook, Microsoft, Streamyard, etc., has become the trend for large and small meetings. Social media listening tools will become crucial tools for feedback and VoCs (Voice of the Customer). Most of Market research will be online and via technology.
4. Ease of doing business: I saw a recent chart which showed how many steps or clicks it took to open an account in various US banks. Some were as many as 180 while some were below 30. Your guess is as good as mine which ones would easily appeal to the Generation Z, racy, breezy, impatient and impulsive. Marketers have to consider what I call “ease of doing business”. How long do people wait on the queue to be attended to by a Customer Care Agent? If they are using an IVR, how many steps does it take them to get to problem resolution? How many clicks really to be able to start and finish an online transaction on your website or e-commerce site.
5. Big Data: With Social Distancing and enhanced safety consciousness, Marketers must spend considerable time interrogating Big Data to be able to hit the right chord with products and services as well as communication. Whom are you talking to? Where are they?What do they do? What do they like? There is more precise data available from telcos that are so very useful. With good tools, marketers are able to follow the footprints of existing and potential customers. Do you know that once you visit an online shop for any product or service, you will start seeing their ads on your social media timeline? That is how much precision there is in modern marketing. Take the example of a mobile telco which knows all their customers in all the 774 LGAs in Nigeria. They know the poor, the middle class and the rich. They know where they reside. They can predict their age by the kind of content they consume.
These are keys to re-invention. They will aid recovery. They will result in resurgence.
Above all, they will challenge Marketers. They will bring out the best in all of us.
With these thought-starters, I want to shut up and listen to your views and take your questions.
*Oparah is Director of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Airtel Nigeria