Clean the slate and innovate

TRENDAFRiCA August 11, 2014

Clean slate brands are seeing a rise in popularity, and brand loyalty in South Africa is diminishing, according to the Ask Afrika ICON Brands survey, which found that year on year, fewer people are finding well-known brands preferential to store brands.

Ask Afrika ICON Brands are ubiquitous and quintessentially South African brands that cross all socio-economic, race, language, and cultural barriers. Consumers voted in the survey for their favorites with their hearts and their wallets, and the following insights came to light:

1. Private label

There is a decline in the number of people who think that ‘brand names’ are superior. Store brands have been part of many major brands re-invention strategies. Private label brands are no longer a cheap alternative to the FMCG category, they are evolving into exclusive trusted brands. “The danger for FMCG brands is that consumers originally saw private label brands as cheap, but now they are trusting retailers to bring them quality brands,” said Paida Mugudubi, Ask Afrika director of commercial markets.

2. Clean slate brands

Clean slate brands are either new on the market, quickly acquiring substantial market share because of innovation that existing brands are not offering, or they are heritage brands that innovate to zero, wipe the slate clean and re-create brand associations that are aligned with the current consumer landscape. “Humans are hard-wired to resist change, but that is changing. New unknown brands are suddenly enjoying consumer approval. With just 33% of US consumers saying they trust big brands, new, small, innovative businesses have a built-in edge. Consumers are crazy for the new because thanks to social media, everyone wants to be the first to discover and share new trends,” adds Sarina de Beer, MD of Ask Afrika.

This means that tougher standards are set for heritage brands because they come with baggage, and will start facing the sins of their fathers. Newer brands and businesses are typically leaner, more transparent, and more flexible. And many new companies and products are based on socially responsible foundations.

Clean slate brands stand for something that matters to a group of people. A great example of this is a new Australian toilet paper brand called ‘Who Gives a Crap’. The company donates 50% of their profit towards building toilets in communities where they are needed. The loo roll is made from recycled paper and they deliver orders to your door. Their tag line is about, ‘keeping your bottom fit’. If a toilet paper brand can be sexy, create smiles, meaning, and feel good moments, other brand categories really need to step up their game.

Ask Afrika identified five criteria for clean slate brands:

1. They have universal appeal.

2. They are authentic.

3. They stand out from the pack.

4. They present fresh ideas and new or newly represented values.

5. Most of all they are relevant.

The Gautrain is an excellent example of a South African clean slate brand that has built quickly and has increasing uptake in the commuter market, reports Ask Afrika. The Gautrain system has about  10 000 parking bays spread across all stations. The current average weekday use varies between 54 000 and 56 000 train passengers and about 21 000 bus passengers. This growth in passenger demand has been attributed to the project’s focus on key customer satisfaction criteria.  A feasibility study conducted by Ask Afrika revealed that they are tightly delivering on the criteria defined by the consumer.

Mug & Bean and Robertsons Herbs and Spices, through their partnership with MasterChef, are local heritage clean slate brands that re-invent themselves through innovative marketing strategies and keep their brands fresh and on-trend for consumers.

3. Innovating to zero

The innovating to zero concept first introduced by Bill Gates bears much relevance for incumbent brands (brands that have a large share of market). This involves more than just innovation and re-inventing. Bill Gates made the concept popular specifically in his pursuit to reduce carbon emissions. As Gates has written, energy efficiency can help, but getting to zero carbon will require major innovation if we want abundant carbon-neutral energy. The brands who will win iconic status in the future will be the brands which take this concept further and find solutions to achieve zero crime, zero poverty, zero lack of infrastructure. This focus on giving back in a clever and sustainable way is already being seen with companies actively taking on CSI projects with a different angle. It is a bit of an all or nothing approach. It is no longer good enough to donate to charities or causes, brands need to start becoming part of the solution locally and globally.

Source: Ask Afrika.



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