Vibe Martech Fest 2021
(South Africa)

The marketing landscape in South Africa is changing. This has always been the case, but Covid-19 has played a huge role in re-imagining how companies can better relate to and grow with their consumer.
This year, I was fortunate to attend the Vibe Martech Fest, which focused on customer experience (CX), marketing and advertising technology. I was able to see how a number of companies and leaders are re-evaluating the marketing landscape. There was also a sense that this was the place to set the agenda for the future of marketing in South Africa.
Notable speakers and guests at the twoday virtual event included:
Alex Papanastassiou, integration manager & strategist at EmakinaGroup; Audrey Naidoo, head of digital marketing at Absa; Becky Opdyke, chief marketing officer at Tiger Brands; Bronwyn Pretorius, head of marketing at Mukuru; Daniele Joubert, eater growth lead at Uber; Dudu Mokholo, chief marketing officer at Samsung Africa; Elizma Nolte, head of marketing at Facebook Africa; Jéan-Dimitri van Dyk, Africa digital media manager at Unilever; Kathleen Senona, marketing science partner at Facebook; Nthabiseng Matshekga, executive head, group marketing at Nedbank; Nancy Moodley, head of customer experience and digital at Nissan South Africa; Marc Emert, sales leader, customer experience, Africa at SAP and
Rami Deeb, marketing executive at Talkwalker. Why is it important that SA consumers should understand how marketing will develop over the next few years? This question seemed to be the crux of why I wanted to attend the event.
The basic answer is that “marketing” is how and why we spend our hard-earned cash on products and services. And it is important that companies understand us and our buying power; and, in turn, that we understand the development that takes place within organisations such as Uber and Nedbank to acquire us as customers and provide the services we need.
Marc Emert, the sales leader in Africa for customer experience at SAP, believes that while some businesses will continue to do business solely on price differentiation, others will realise that the only way to develop and compete is to change and grow their user experience. This means understanding and catering to the customer through data analytics. He also argued that a good business will not only gather data on their consumers, but will accurately evaluate and use that data accordingly.
Emert emphasised that customers are primarily moving to online shopping, and are using mobile devices to do so. It is vital that a business understands that and develops their marketing strategy accordingly.

Translating consumer intelligence into great customer experiences
All brands realise that they need real-time consumer data in order to stay ahead of the curve, but not all brands know what tools to use, or how to leverage this data.
Rami Deeb, marketing executive at Talkwalker, explained how important it is for a business to understand customer behaviour and how to develop that into a great customer experience.
Deeb argues that customer data is abundant, but few companies understand how to interpret and grow the data into a great user experience.
He believes a company must move towards becoming more customer-centric, using the data it collates on its user or customer. The main aim is to make the customer happy and ultimately retain them as multiple users.
This, he argues, can be done in a number of ways, but over the past year, he has seen great brands grow their business and retain more customers by creating personalised marketing campaigns. He suggests that all businesses should reach their customers through multiple social streams; not just Facebook or email, but new social networks too, including TikTok and Instagram.
According to Deeb, you need to understand the psychological movements and personality traits of the customer. Then, develop and implement a campaign that impacts them and retains them as continual consumers.

What does this mean for you and me?
From the perspectives offered by both Deeb and Emert I understand that we as consumers have a great deal of power. The importance is to know how to interpret what is being sold to you, and for what reason.
From a business perspective, it is clear that if you do not understand your customer, you might as well close up shop. Also, if you cannot use the insights you have to further grow your customer base, you are dead in the water.
Companies that know how to interpret and implement the data they receive on their clients will succeed in a post-pandemic market. The ones that know how to further expand and cater to the client will grow exponentially.

By Vernon Pillay

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