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Consumer Experience Is The New Norm

 
By Gilbert Alasa.
Over the years, digital advertising has continued to cream off a substantial share of total marketing spend by most brands. This revelation is particularly not surprising. And it is convenient to swallow this pill when seen from the purview that technology has altered the very landscape of consumer culture, forcing brands out of their comfort zones.
 
Two years ago, data by the Chief Marketing Officers Council Worldwide projected digital advertising to be the fastest growing category, pulling a 16.1 percent increase in spending. And more than a third of CMOs fingered digital advertising to account for more than 75 percent of their ad spend. And so, growing social media communities and engaging same, web content development and performance optimisation all combine to form the major preoccupations of 69 percent of these marketers.
 
But all these may be unable to yield the needed results unless attention is channelled towards creating platforms that inspire consumers to own and tell their stories in the best possible ways. Brands would have to start creating unique social communities that allow consumers share experiences and ultimately connect with the brands.
 
Speaking at the African Experiential Marketing Summit held in Lagos last Friday, Founder and Editor of world’s leading experiential marketing magazine, Dan Hannover said the most profitable way to engage today’s audience is to create platforms that transcend from online conversations to even offline. This is a tough call but Hannover believes an understanding of the shifting consumer behaviour is crucial for marketers to take their craft beyond the narrow dots traditional advertising.
 
While top global brands are swooping on experiential marketing powered by digital experiences, most African brands are yet to come to terms with this new normal in advertising. Hannover advised African marketers to embrace and explore this new currency in consumer engagement.

“He said: The African consumers are becoming very technology-focused. Marketing is becoming very engagement-driven but Africa is still very advertising-like and big brands still have large advertising budget. They haven’t yet feel comfortable moving to other parts of advertising.”
 
“Africa is not far behind the world, the only hurdle remaining in Africa is understanding the potential for experiential marketing and the comfort of walking away from advertising as a lead of the plan. Africa is gradually accepting the model of social media and experiential marketing. African consumers over the last five years have progressed 30 years. They are digital natives and feel very comfortable more in the big cities than in the outline areas.
 
“The African consumers are getting used to social media. Using it, and digital currency from PayPal and Google Wallet to many other forms of online payment is becoming huge in Africa and in Nigeria, especially with the booming population estimated for the next 10 years and with the planned infrastructure planned over the next 10 years and the new government plans. All these forces are in place for Africa to evolve quickly over the next couple of years not only as a population super power but as a brand super power. Nigeria has got a lot of consumers to interact in new ways.
 
Carol Abade, Chief Executive Officer, EXP Group, said the tables are shifting to the showgrounds of digital consumer experiences and brands should be smart enough to go all out for the spoils.
 
“Experiential marketing is about enabling personal connections between brands and consumers by creating real life experience worth sharing. These experiences combine digital and real world connections to create stronger memories and emotional bonds between brand and consumers,” she said.

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