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How to Engage Nigeria’s Hyper-Connected Consumers

By Damilola Owolabi

One of the major challenges that marketers in Nigeria are daily confronted with is how to evolve a strategy that can effectively win the loyalty and patronage of Nigeria’s consumers. Unlike, 10 or 20 years ago, brand building activities have become much complex and complicated because today’s consumers are pretty dynamic and sophisticated, so traditional advertising alone has become inadequate, and brand owners are condemned to be innovate by developing new rules of engagement to attract their target market. Marketers might have a great product and design a wow communication, but all that could amount to nothing without proper insight on how best to deploy the communication. One reason for this challenge is how hyperconnected today’s Nigerian consumers are.

Nigeria is one of the largest digital retail markets in the world, with close to 100million internet population. Many of them are young people who now practically live their lives online.  So any brand that is serious about engaging them must embrace the internet. This means businesses can no longer be operating just a traditional brick-and-mortar store anymore and advertising can no longer be done with a stereotype mindset. Brands must determine to go where the consumers are and also meet them there. And because of the hyperconnected nature of today’s consumers, what sufficed yesterday might not work today. So, marketers must learn to stay ahead of trend and keep finding new ways to reach out to and engage with consumer. I will share a few tips that have worked for me in my years as a brand manager.

Engage consumers on their terms

A wise man once said, “Think Like a Customer and Act like an Owner”. He is right. Your customers are more worried about what’s good for them, not you or your business. They care little about how hard you work or how much more complicated your business is from those of your competitors. The only things they care about are what you can do for them and how much affordable your products or services are.

So as a brand owner, you cannot afford to be arrogant in your approach; you must be ready to engage consumers on their terms, not by the rule book or some classroom theory. Agreed, this doesn’t come easy. It requires a lot of insight, flexibility and hardwork but at the end of the day, you will discover it’s worth it. In the 21st century business of brand building there is no room for stereotyping or dogma, the rules are as set by the consumers and you must conform or you lose them.

Think video not TV

A noticeable trend among online consumers is their love for videos. Video have suddenly become so big and the reason is not far-fetched. 97 million Nigerians have access to internet. And most of them spend 64 per cent of their time online watching videos, and consumption continues to grow at an exponential rate as penetration rises. This shift in news consumption pattern is eroding the influence of the traditional media. A 2015 data from Ericsson ConsumerLab’s TV and Media report for Nigeria shows that even though traditional television remains the most popular choice for video consumption, Nigerians are consuming more video content on smartphones and tablets than they do on television.

So it is increasingly becoming clear that traditional advertising channels are losing their appeal and digital videos have become the king of the media world. This explains why Netflix and maybe our own Iroko TV have become so popular and now increasing eroding advertising budget away from TV, and this also explains why Facebook and Youtube and making new investment in making clearer videos.

The onus is on marketers to take cognizance of this shift and begin to think creatively not only to reach consumer but also to make the most of it when they do, through the deployment of value content. If most of this content is being consumed in-app, then brand owners need to think more about the utility of advertising.

Be brief:

It is equally important to be brief with marketing messages especially in video, because according to reports, short form digital video has now become the primary source of news for most online audiences. Consumers are impatient, and they like to maximize their time online, so once they discover you ad or content is too long they immediately reach for the skip button. The report also noted that consumers who view short video contents resonate more with brands. At 60 seconds over 50% of your audience is lost, so be creative enough to pass a strong message in 10 seconds or less. Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser, has similarly suggested that video shorter than the typical 30- or 60-second spots is becoming essential to its marketing strategy. As consumer attention spans shrink — some research suggests they last eight seconds on average— marketers must figure out ways not only to attract eyeballs in a short period of time but also create a lasting impression thereafter.  

Follow the consumer:

You need the consumer more than they need you, so don’t wait for the consumers to come to you, follow them to where they converge. Let your marketing messages meet them at the platforms they use. You need to answer questions like, what’s their typical routine like? Where are they going? When are they most in need of your products/services? How could you better position your products based on these things?

Be mentally available:

This is not an issue for debate. Brands that are always mentally available do better than brands which are not always mental available so it is important that your brand is mentally available. You must ensure that your brand come first when consumers think of your category.  Ensure that you never take a vacation from your consumers. Keep your brand on top of consumers‘ mind by creating campaigns that are always on and you will be relevant for a long time. Because once you are not there when they need, it may result in an unrepairable disconnect, because mental availability is the new currency of marketing.

Have a social media strategy:

You must have an effective customer care strategy or quick response time to online query. If not consumers will move over to other brands that attend to their complaints or questions. It is shocking that many brands still don’t know what it is to have a social media strategy. This is bad because customers don’t like to be ignored even if it’s on Facebook or other social media platforms. So it is not enough to have a Facebook, Instagram or twitter account, they must be strategically deployed for brand building purposes.
Damilola Owolabi is one of Nigeria’s fastest rising brand managers. In 2016, he was named the young brand manager of the year by the prestigious Marketing Edge Brands and Marketing Excellence Award.
Damilola is presently Head Of Marketing, Capricorn Digital Limited where he is responsible for the overall marketing strategy of the Capricorn Digital Ltd, for long and short term growth goals on all product and services.
A law graduate turned brand strategist and communications expert, Owolabi has the unique privilege of having worked on both side of the marketing divide- on the agency side and also on the client side.


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