Customer in the Data Shadow

DATA THEY SAY IS THE NEW CURRENCY BUT IT STILL CAN’T BUY PEOPLE

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What do I look like to you, a guinea pig or a lab rat? Make your pick because I need to know. Scratch that, truth is, I don’t want to know. It’s just that your marketing strategies are beginning to make me feel like one of either option. Brands and marketers these days are doing the right thing by gathering as much data as possible to fuel their marketing campaigns but they are doing the wrong thing by ignoring the human element – we all want to be touched at some point. Brands make the mistake of trying to be masters at collecting data but ignore the ability to be human therefore treating people like lab rats – if this strategy fails, try the next one, that seems to be the new mantra.

Owing to the speed with which the consumer (not a lab rat or guinea pig) is changing, brands are adopting a more agile framework – design thinking – which helps them change at the same pace the consumer does. However they tend to keep the consumer in the data shadow, this means that brands tend to take the standpoint of addressing the consumer needs as they see it on paper and/or research reports. For example, the fact that there is usually an insane amount of terrible traffic condition in Nigeria doesn’t mean that if you sell a product to them they’ll purchase it but if you can connect to their emotions at that point, you are likely to record a higher amount of sales.

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Therefore, what any brand should do is never to neglect the fact that the customer is first a human being and not a collection of data.

Consumer first (Consumer Centricity), that’s basically what design thinking is about. If you don’t believe me, you could ask Google, Amazon, Apple, and any other successful brand that has employed this strategy.

The Sauce and the Spice

DESIGN THINKING – THE INGREDIENT YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS TO KEEP UP WITH THE FAST-PACED EVOLUTION IN TODAY’S MARKET PLACE.

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The world is consistently changing and the speed can be likened to that of Arya Stark when she stealthily moved in on the Night Kind and drove a dagger through his belly in the recently concluded Game of Thrones series. Like the Night King, if businesses fail to take a hold of this speed or anticipate the next change (trend) then a dagger might be driven through its belly and put it out of business. Design Thinking is the ingredient businesses need to keep up with the pace (become agile) of customer evolution and ensure sustainability. My friend, Vin Diesel said in Riddick “if you can’t keep up, don’t step up”.

What is Design Thinking?

This is the art of adopting a process that keeps the consumer (target audience) as the focal point of your business. Many times businesses employ strategies as a result of data they dug up about their existing competitors – wrong move. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to know what your competition is doing to reach your audience but it is more important for you to watch and anticipate what your audience is doing or what they might do. This way you’ll have a more pragmatic approach to reaching them, otherwise, you’ll struggle to adopt the right strategies to reach the consumer; you’ll become reactive instead of proactive.

Design thinking makes you proactive, not reactive – it eliminates the knee jerk phenomenon.

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Why Design Thinking?

It gives your marketing communication a direction and lays emphasis on designing marketing materials on purpose – brand proposition.

Designing on purpose builds relevance and leads to a culture that will resonant with the target market. Consequently, using purposeful design will also create a connection which will broaden the impact of all brand activation programs, and brand experience. The brand that uses design thinking as a strategic advantage creates things that people have to have - Bizcommunity.

This approach really can’t be overemphasized especially in this digital age wherein everything is ‘supposed’ to be connected.

International brands like Nike, Google, Apple, and Amazon have adopted the Design Thinking strategy and it’s a no brainer how they come up with products every now and then that you and I always have to have.

Brands; the New Village Head

STORYTELLING IS THE TREND THAT BRANDS IN NIGERIA ARE TAKING VERY SERIOUSLY AND IT’S SHOWING UP IN THE ADS

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

As said by the Hand of the Queen (Daenerys Targaryan) who eventually became the Hand of the King (Bran the Broken), Tyrion Lannister said in the grand finale of the decade long series Game of Thrones, “What unites a people? Arms, Gold, Flags? Stories, there's nothing more powerful in this world than a good Story. Nothing can stop it, no enemy can defeat it”.

In many African homes or villages, the village head or the oldest person in the area is supposedly the best story teller as he or she tells the most mind joggling stories in every genre that brings everyone together. Till this day, the best stories I have ever heard, came from the tongue of a village chief and I know that isn’t peculiar to just me as I have met many others who share the same story.

As I said before, brands in Nigeria have begun to harness the power of great storytelling to deliver returns on investment (ROI) and achieve top of mind awareness (TOMA). Two brands that immediately come to mind are Maltina and Airtel, they are currently milking this playing field and achieving set objectives.

See below the stories they are currently telling around their brands.

Everyone Needs a Workstation

SHARED WORK SPACE HAVE BECOME THE TREND IN NIGERIA AS BUSINESSES ARE OPENING UP THEIR SPACES TO OTHERS.

Source: Dissolve

Source: Dissolve

Every superhero needs a lair, an army needs a base, a workforce needs a workstation but the trend we are beginning to notice is that these workstations are now being shared. Take a moment to imagine Batman and Iron man sharing the same lair, or the Zimbabwean army sharing a base with the Tunisian army, it might be chaotic at the beginning but for the mere fact that they are working towards a common goal, they’ll eventually find a way co-exist. Remember we’ve seen superheroes share the same lair in Justice League and The Avengers.

This workstation sharing trend is largely being observed in Nigeria as there are a number of businesses who have opened up their spaces to be used by other organizations; mostly startups. The workstation or shared workspace idea is highly appreciated by the fast-growing middle class in the country because it is a more cost-effective way of doing business as you do not have to spend so much money acquiring a space, just share it. You’ll also have ad-hoc staff as well as basic needs like the internet, office equipment at your disposal, all you need do is pay the cost the service provider has requested.

My colleague went to visit a friend of hers who just begun his startup, his organization has only one staff – him, but when she got there, there were quite a number of people. She inquired and found that the space was being shared.

Source: Xliveafrica

Source: Xliveafrica

Initially, When this trend was about to hit the ground some time ago a couple of people kicked back, saying it wasn’t going to work solely because the environment cannot be controlled. What they meant was, there’ll be more than one C.E.O; nobody would be the boss of anybody except for those who work directly with them – no holds barred. In order to curb such problems from arising, shared workspace or workstation providers made rules and policies that one must agree to before renting a space. Those policies have helped to foster peace as well as grow the business.

Just so you know, I’m writing this article from a shared workspace also known as a workstation.

A.B.E.G

IN THIS NEW AGE WHERE DISRUPTION HAS TAKEN CENTER STAGE, IF YOU HAVE TO WIN YOU OUGHT TO BE UNDENIABLY INNOVATIVE AS AFRICA’S BURGEONING ENTREPRENEURSHIP GENERATION (A.B.E.G) IS RELENTLESS.

Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

Regardless of the type of business you are into, you ought to read this article to the very last word, especially the So What section. It will point you in the right direction.

The 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) published by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI), put together the African ranking of entrepreneurship and this report saw Tunisia lead the park with a score. Botswana came second best with a 35 percent score; South Africa came next, as they clench third place with 33 percent; and Namibia ranks fourth with 31 percent. Runners up include Morocco with 29 percent; Egypt, 26 percent; Gabon, 25 percent; Algeria, 24 percent; Swaziland, 24 percent; Rwanda, 21 percent; Ghana, 21 percent; Nigeria, 20 percent; and Zambia with 20 percent. According to the report, Chad, Mauritania and Burundi are the worst countries for entrepreneurs in the world and in Africa.

Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

This implies a great future for Africa as the increased number of entrepreneurs in impacting greatly on the middle class. As a result, that socio economic class is beginning to grow in Africa at an encouraging rate. According to Mckinsey, Africa now has the fastest-growing middle class in the world with a tremendous increase in consumer spending across the continent. It further highlighted that Africa will create 54 million new, stable wage-paying jobs by 2022, it will however not be enough to absorb the 122 million new entrants to the labour force over the same period. Which in my opinion is the reason many people are seeking other income generating ventures.

In addition, did you know that 22 percent of Africa’s working-age population are starting new businesses? This is the highest rate of any region in the world, according to the African Development Bank Group.

Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

And so what?

So what if Africa’s burgeoning middle class shows tremendous growth potential for the continent? What if Africa is actually heading in the right direction? What if Africa one day leads the world in the number of entrepreneurs? What good will this do for you that is reading this article right now?

Well nothing essentially, the sole purpose of this article is to tell you to stop procrastinating and do that thing you wanted to do tomorrow today. As Africans all over the world are hungry for ideas, that idea you thought only you have will soon be executed by someone else. So get up and work.