Mid-Year Review: South African Marketing Trends 2023

At the end of 2022, we sat down with Roan Mackintosh, MD of Incubeta SSA to pick his brains about what was in store for the marketing industry in 2023. As we settle into the second half of the year, we once again caught up with Roan to see how his initial predictions have fared since the start of the year and what’s in store for Q3 and Q4.

Roan Mackintosh

Looking back at your 2023 marketing trend predictions, were there any specific trends that you would like to reinforce as we enter the second half of the year?

Data and privacy – have continued to be challenging areas to navigate, and we have, if anything  underestimated the impact they would have on the local market. Added pressures and complexities stemming from the Sunset of Google Analytics UA platform have only compounded these challenges. While there is still plenty of noise surrounding consent mode and privacy, what has become prominent is the rise of the value economy. Brands should continue investing in technology, consent mode strategies, and first-party audience strategies, among other measures. However, once all these are in place, the next step is to consider how to incentivize people to share their data or provide more data than they already have. This is where the concept of value exchange comes into play. Consumers seek more than just discounted products or sales. If relinquishing their data doesn’t result in a more personalized experience or tangible value, they are likely to move on and seek brands that offer better incentives.

Making sense of your data – this remains a necessary evil. It’s crucial for brands to organize their data through data integrations, online-to-offline projects, BigQuery, Datalake or predictive modeling, for example. Data activation should always be top of mind as it unlocks opportunities for brands to turn their data into revenue. Within this, our biggest obstacle lies in the shortage of skills in critical areas such as data science and data specialization – which is a topic we further unpack in our recent article. On a positive note, the data field has shown positive signs of maturity, leading to a clearer understanding and distinction between roles such as data engineers, data architects, and data scientists. This development enables brands to match the right resources based on their specific needs.

Feeds – have expanded beyond e-commerce. It encompasses more than keeping stock data up to date or pushing SKU lists into Google Shopping. Brands can also leverage feed technology to update creative execution on a dynamic basis. For instance, in our Multichoice FIFA campaign in partnership with Google, we showcased how we utilized Data Driven Creative to enhance personalization, user experience, and campaign performance across Multichoice brands in nine targeted African countries. By utilizing the fully integrated Google Marketing Platform (GMP) stack to execute our Data Driven Creatives, we achieved improved media efficiency and exceeded our initial KPIs. Furthermore, we significantly reduced operational and production time by employing dynamic creative elements, including customized copy and imagery messages based on the identified audience.

While some trends have fallen short of expectations, such as the lack of aggressive maneuvers by industry disruptors in the current deflated economy. Content strategies remain a top priority, but with a slightly different lens. Brands should leverage creative efficiencies, like dynamic template-driven creative, to achieve more with fewer resources. Additionally, the imminent launch of Amazon in South Africa continues to create anticipation and should not be disregarded. Use this time to carefully evaluate if Amazon is the right platform for your needs, considering factors such as resources, fulfillment, audience, product catalog and suitability as highlighted in our 10 point checklist. 

How has the local landscape or other external factors influenced the success or failure of these trends?

The year started off dampened across all markets due to prevailing issues such as high inflation, recession fears and geo political turmoil. Constrained marketing budgets have hindered brands’ ability to test, learn, and innovate. We can’t address external factors without talking about our local nemesis, load shedding which has significantly impacted business success and consumer spend alike – ultimately affecting sales targets. Data and privacy remains relatively unaffected and is a trend that should be reinforced going into the second half of the year. Data legislation and the sunset of UA continue to progress, strengthening the importance for brands to persevere with their plans and think beyond the tech by finding solutions that will bring value to their consumers. 

In conclusion, as we navigate the dynamic landscape for the remainder of the year, here are some key pieces of advice:

  • Prioritize personalized content for owned platforms: Enhance your earned media efforts by investing in personalized content tailored to your target audience. Consider incorporating technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) to create immersive experiences that engage different buyer personas.
  • Optimize customer experience: Focus on optimizing the overall customer experience to boost engagement on your website. Tailor your content and messaging to create a more personalized and tailored 1-1 experience for your audience.
  • Embrace innovation and think beyond the usual strategies: Avoid falling into the trap of doing what has always worked. During times of lean budgets and economic pressure, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Explore innovative channels, strategies, and tactics like Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and content optimization to complement your digital efforts.
  • Leverage your existing customer base: Instead of solely chasing new customers, consider how you can better leverage your current customer base. Implement effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) practices and sweat the assets you already have. Find ways to incrementally grow basket value and drive more value from your existing customers.

Marketing professionals and brands need to embrace innovation, box smart and use what they have at their disposal in order to navigate this ever-changing landscape, adapt to challenges, and seize opportunities for growth and success for the remainder of the year.

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