Strong brand relationships as a consumer trend has never been more significant, says Thabo Ramushu, Category eBusiness Lead East and Southern Africa Region at Nestle. In 2021 “businesses will have to create memorable and impactful experiences for their consumers outside of just the product/service,” he adds.
- Ready for the Future? Follow SME South Africa’s 2021 Report to find out the trends that will affect every business owner this year.
Ramushu shares on the continuing growth of online shopping, customer relationship management musts for all businesses and digital marketing tools and resources to reach your audience.
On consumer trends for 2021 and the impact of COVID-19
According to the Rogerwilco 2020 South African Digital Customer Experience Report, 63% of respondents gather information online but prefer to transact in a physical brick and mortar environment. 74% cited digital’s 24/7 convenience as one of the main reasons for going online.
Various independent studies have predicted a constant growth of consumer online buying and ecommerce in 2021. This is despite an initial slow update as most consumers had trust and safety concerns when it came to transacting online. Statista predicts an annual growth rate of 9.2% in ecommerce revenue between 2020 – 2025.
Most businesses have had to move spend from traditional media channels towards bolstering their online presence. This means digital marketing is now recognized as an integral part of an end-to-end business strategy.
There is a paradigm shift from broad-based marketing to move towards hyper personalisation and one-to-one communication with your consumers. Driving personalisation is rooted in a deep understanding of your consumer and using data to help inform and improve consumer satisfaction.
All businesses will have to consider an omni-channel approach (cross-channel content strategy). This approach ensures that the business has considered the consumer experience across the brand’s touchpoints.
On rising consumer trends and opportunities businesses shouldn’t ignore
Build value beyond the product/service. Businesses will have to create memorable and impactful experiences for their consumers outside of just the product/service. Building personal relationships with consumers is imperative if a business is to not only maintain but grow their market share.
Consumer retention, when done correctly, is more beneficial to a brand in the long term as opposed to constant recruitment for new business.
Furthermore, consumer feedback based on either direct or indirect reviews, is an essential component that SMEs need to take into account. This is because many consumers often use this as a barometer before making a purchase decision.
On the tech tools businesses should be using
Certainly collaboration tools such as Slack, MS Teams and Trello will do a great deal in helping SMEs to increase productivity whilst navigating the work from home or office hybrid models. These tools also go a long way to ensuring that a business owner can keep abreast of all the projects in play from one single platform.
SMEs need to invest in Customer Relation Management (CRM) tools to help build personalisation and relationship building. CRM tools such as HubSpot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Mailchimp can help automate triggered programs for relationship management.
Lastly, I believe that all SMEs should look into a social media management tool. This allows the business to manage all digital activities from a central location. Teams can remotely post, engage and respond to consumer queries in a timeously manner. Platforms such as Hootsuite, Social Studio or Socialbakers have a wide range functions that helps streamline all social media activity. They also have the added benefit of helping a business keep their finger on the pulse through Social Listening and sentiment analysis.
These are but a few tools that SMEs can use to future proof their business going forward.
On the mindset shift needed to run a business in 2021
2020 has been a challenging year particularly for entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses.
In order to mitigate some of these challenges:
You must understand that you are not alone, find like-minded entrepreneurs to collaborate and learn with.
If you have not already started, invest time in building up your business’ digital presence. Do this by launching social media profiles on the platforms that your consumers use.
Focus on developing content that will resonate with your target audience.
Utilize and implement paid media to ensure your content reaches the intended audiences.
In conclusion, whilst this might seem like a daunting task there are plenty of credible and free resources that one can use to upskill themselves in digital marketing. Below are a few trusted resources:
- Learn with Google https://learndigital.withgoogle.com
- Twitter Flight School https://www.twitterflightschool.com
- Facebook Blueprint https://www.facebookblueprint.com