It has been said over the years that technology has taken over our lives as consumers. Digital disruptions are still on the rise and have changed the way consumers interact with brands. Consumers want more than product from brands, they want experiences, they want brands that constantly strive to make their lives better. According to Euromonitor (2018), “consumer expenditure is expected to grow at its strongest rate since 2011. Yet shifting consumer attitudes and behaviours will continue to cause disruption for business in 2018, with mobile technology and internet accessibility playing a key role in shaping these changes.”
2018 trends indicate new consumer behaviours and expectations that will require businesses to re-evaluate and personalise their marketing strategies moving forward. The following article will cover three 2018 trends, technology, retail and economic transformation as they relate to the consumer.
Technology continues to disrupt and drive innovation with regards to how businesses communicate with the consumers. Digital, search, social, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) continue to command increased market spend. Although digital continues to disrupt the industry, within the South African context, brands need an integrated approach (van der Haar, 2018 bizcommunity.com). South Africans consume all media and brand messages need to be integrated on various platforms. Therefore, integrated marketing strategies need to be implemented.
The internet has created platforms where consumers can receive and source information at a touch of a button. In addition, consumers use these platforms to voice out their own opinions about what they like/ dislike and what they think brands should be doing, consumers do not mind calling out a brand on any wrongdoing. As stated by Odette van der Haar (bizcommunity.com, 2018), we need to consider more than just reach and frequency, but impact too. This can be achieved through multiple brand touch-points along the consumer journey. Furthermore, consumers are now able to shop online and that has changed the retail market dramatically.
E-commerce has grown exponentially over the years and consumers are finding it more convenient as it makes their lives easier. There has been a shift in retail which now demands that merchants reconsider their unique offering and improve their value proposition in order to survive.
With the rise of AI and VR, consumers being able to see the product 360, retail has to move from “normal ATL” advertising to more experiential marketing and Omni-channel/present strategies. Consumers are constantly looking for experiences, something that they can post and share with their family and friends. However, South Africa is still falling behind the United States and other developed markets. According to Lee (bizcommunity.com, 2018), truly Omni-channel strategies have not yet taken off in SA. A number of local retailers believe that mass adoption for digital and mobile retail offerings is still some way far from becoming mainstream. The so-called proliferation of channels, touch-points, devices and digital identities throws up a myriad of concerns around back-end systems, data management platforms, marketing tools and more. Therefore, retail has to improve strategy in order keep consumers that are slowly moving to stores that allow for e-commerce.
Affordability, convenience and sustainability are key factors in the growth of the sharing economy. Brands such as Pick ‘n Pay, Clicks and Dischem, all have loyalty programmes that reward consumers for spending. These incentives act as great assistance for the consumer, where they know that they will spend more to get more. Consumers have come to realise the importance of saving because of the economic uncertainty in South Africa. According to Euromonitor (2018), cash-strapped consumers want more flexibility and freedom in their lives and less baggage. Rather than aspiring to things, they favour minimalism and living for the moment. This means not being tied to possessions. Therefore, marketers and brands need to provide products that make the lives of the consumer easier and continue to communicate as such.
In conclusion, 2018 sees a year of increased technological advancements in South Africa and globally. Although SA brands and marketers are still behind compared to other developing countries, the consumers are always on their smartphones finding ways to simplify their lives. Therefore, as an agency “be consumer-centric and remember that your desk is the most dangerous place to view the world from” (Mzamo Masito, 2018).