Wake me up at the end of the Slowtrot

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 - 7:38 AM

By Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah

Everybody knows Ghana to be the gateway to West Africa. Nice people, peaceful, economically stable and a rapid growing market. With a surge of products entering the market and a push for home made products to be sold, Ghana’s market has become saturated, yet approximate

Ok first up is our challenge that most individuals and industry professionals understand marketing to mean sales. We often hear potential clients say ‘We want this marketing activity to achieve immediate ROI’ or ‘We want to get a lot of marketing people to sell this product’.

You would be hard pressed to find people who truly understand the essence and role of marketing in any business. Ghana is very much a sales market where a lot of brand managers are not interested in building brand equity or achieving brand positioning, they just want to sell what they have and increase into the market.

The reality is, for some companies this approach works as they have a robust distribution network and demand is high. However, they do not have an aspirational product/service and their stability in the market is weak.

We want ATL!
A small percentage of companies who do understand the importance of marketing, tend to engage in ATL marketing. “I want a billboard here, here and here!’, ‘I want to be seen everywhere!’ They truly believe in order to achieve market penetration and mass market brand awareness all they have to do is place a few billboards around Accra. For many, I think it is an ego trip, especially when the activity is short-sighted, they just want to say ‘Have you seen my billboard?’

More often than not we talk our clients out of ATL, because they don’t have the budget and are not leveraging from the organic growth that BTL marketing offers. Truth be told they don’t understand BTL marketing and how it contributes to business development.

Activation! Activation! Activation!
For those who do understand BTL marketing, it is also known as Activations & Events. If there is one BTL activity that brands tend to know very well it’s activations! All brands need to be activated, however our brands tend to lack creativity when it comes to innovation. In this regard I guess we go full circle with the challenge that many brand managers are not thinking ‘brand personality’, ‘brand equity’, ‘brand positioning’. To extend this further many brand owners are not thinking about their brand dialogue with their end-user.

Without true consideration of the above we often see product activations looking and feeling the same. On this basis, an activation is almost done in vain! Once the activation happens then what? The larger brands rely on their

ATL activities and the majority of the market suffers a sales slump! They enjoy 3-6 months of sales growth, then after all the hype has gone or a competing brand executes their activation, they are back to square one.

They say…
Ghanaian consumers are not ready for that’, ‘Ghanaian consumers wouldn’t understand that’, ‘That concept may work in the West but not here’. We say ‘You know we live in a global village’, ‘Your audience has become more savvy, cultured and has adopted a lifestyle’. We say ‘Your mass market is now an aspirational market to things they have been exposed to worldwide’.

With our emerging middle class and a development of an aspirational market the whole dynamics of the Ghanaian consumer has changed from what it once was. Their values, lifestyle and habits are not the same as what their parents once experienced. Therefore, the market should be susceptible to different things, yet many brands still tend to ‘play it safe’ when it comes to creative/innovative execution. They fear their audience are not ready. My observation is that Ghanaian brands tend to allow their consumers to lead, rather than their consumers following, in dancing terms it’s a Slowtrot.

Easy to stand out from the crowd!
I know things cannot stay like this for much longer in the market, I forecast that within the next 5 years industries will start shedding a lot of companies that are not up to the challenge and the one’s left standing are going to be forced to fight a good fight.

We have seen this happening in the telecoms industry, the banking industry is stepping up and the insurance industry is also beginning to put its shoes on. The reality is no business can be competitive or really stand out as number 1 if they don’t pull away from the rest of the crowd and define themselves as a brand. It is very easy for a new company with a plausible integrated marketing strategy to capture a sizeable market share in Ghana, the only thing that can stop them is politics

Takyiwaa-Mensah is the CEO, Sixth Sense, Ghana

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