media update’s David Jenkin was at the Bryanston Country Club venue to hear these speakers impart their knowledge.

1. Get people talking

Cas Dreijer, managing partner of Be Salt, explained how social media has opened a new world of potential for experiential marketing to gain enormous organic reach. Good enough is no longer good enough, he said, and so it has become necessary for marketers to take their game to the next level in order to rise above the clutter.

Providing an experience which gets people talking can pay huge dividends, and it’s now possible to tell integrated narratives across social media.

2. Digital has changed the way we shop

Craig Wight, sales director at Popimedia, explored the digital side of the path to purchase, highlighting the fact that although 92% of sales happen offline, most customers research products and compare prices before they enter a store. This is termed pre-shopping.

Media spend, however, still needs to catch up with this trend, but advertising budgets will increasingly be allocated to digital, he said.

3. Smarter malls will gain an edge

Greer Hogarth, marketing and communications strategist for Primedia Unlimited Mall, spoke about the pressures malls are under. Shoppers are visiting malls less frequently, she said, and super regional malls have seen a decline of 20% in foot traffic, yet developers are continuing to build new malls. The result is that retailers are losing market share.

She stressed the need to create memorable experiences at the mall, to use data and insights to interpret and meet shoppers’ needs, and, where possible, influence the shopper journey. This is necessary to create differentiation as the mall space becomes increasingly competitive.

4. Employ theatrical experiences in retail

Bongani Chinkanda, business and strategy director at Elevator, raised the point about how attention spans have been plummeting. However, creating theatrical experiences in a mall environment – moments that push the boundaries, which are memorable and shareable on social media – can yield great returns.

5. Create signature brand experiences in retail

Bruce Gourley, strategist with Brand Union, began by declaring that disruption is the new normal, it is the landscape in which retails operates now. There are no safe havens anymore, and all retail space needs to be thinking about blending digital with the physical world. Everyone is in competition with Amazon, he added, an organisation which has been relentlessly innovating – yet not all of their innovations are successful. They are ahead because they have the capacity for testing and learning from their mistakes.

Innovations need to make sense in terms of the unique brand positioning in order to create signature experiences, which are necessary as part of a tweak to the very premise of retail, to rather consider the transaction as a by-product of a positive consumer experience.

6. Remember the mass market is under pressure

Lebo Motshegoa, managing director of Foshizi, a mass market research agency, spoke about the pressures influencing consumers’ decision-making, particularly in lower LSMs, and provided insights for marketers to be mindful of when considering campaigns, products and pricing.   

Dealer-owned brands like Pick ‘n Pay No Name Brand products have been doing extremely well as price-sensitive consumers seek value. Saving has become less of a priority, and people have been cutting back on non-essentials, buying products that serve multiple uses, and buying imitation goods, to name a few ways of coping.

7. Personalisation is key

Richard Mullins, managing director of Acceleration, unpacked the complexities of personalisation when mapping customer journeys. Essentially there are two ways to gain a competitive advantage here; by learning about customers faster than the competition, and by putting that data into action faster than the competition.

Too often, however, siloed engagements lead to disconnected messaging. Another mistake is a lack of focus on behavioural data, which is the real key to personalisation.

Data management platforms and artificial intelligence are useful tools in this space, but can only be as good as the data available, he explained.

8. Customer service needs more focus

Kevan Aspoas, CEO of The Jupiter Drawing Room, concluded the conference with a presentation in which he contended that businesses are not doing enough to provide great customer experiences. They are too geared toward processes, he said, and miss negative blind spots. Consumers are generally too polite to complain, and so substandard service continues, causing long-term harm to the business.

He stressed the need to build long-term solutions into the structure of the business after listening to consumers properly in order to understand where problems lie.

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Interested in reading the coverage from day 1 of the conference? Read more in our article, Eight quick insights about shoppers from the Path to Purchase Conference.