On the up - Young marketers ascending the marketing ladder

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<ul><li><p>On the up - Young marketers ascending the marketing ladder</p><p>Lisa Cloete meets an up-and-coming researcher with a strong interest in what </p><p>makes South African consumers tick.</p><p>Kambe mwaba believes that the south african market-research industry is on the cusp of becoming a lot more dynamic. and she should know: she has, after all, been recognised as one of its most exciting talents.</p><p>this kudos was granted in august by the southern african marketing Research association (samRa). at the organisations 33rd annual conference held in Johannesburg, mwaba won the bright Young minds award, as well as a bronze medal for her paper: making the small screen part of the big picture: Understanding how south african internet and mobile phone users interact with brands online.</p><p>so, how does a 25-year-old from Mafikeng not one of South Africas innovation hot spots, Mwaba admits become a leading thinker on brands, consumers and social media?</p><p>it all started with a move to Cape town 10 years ago, followed by the decision to study marketing at the University of Cape town. marketing appealed to me because, while i enjoy the complexities of business, i also have a strong interest in what makes people tick. this industry is the perfect combination of both: on the one hand, you have to be sussed </p><p>On the cusp of great things</p><p>about the strategies companies should follow, based on market trends; on the other, you also have to understand how people think and what motivates their choices. </p><p>but marketing is an extremely wide discipline, so why market research? mwaba answers that her career direction was clinched after an on-campus interview with tNs Research surveys, one of sas top market-research organisations, which promised the scope to explore the psychological side of marketing. </p><p>shes found this aspect of her job particularly fascinating. im intrigued by the factors that drive purchasing decisions, she explains. helping clients understand those factors is another part of the job that pleases her: making presentations is my opportunity to ensure the consumers voice is heard. she also enjoys the variety of market research, and the broad exposure to different brands and sectors it affords. </p><p>this is an especially exciting time for the industry in south africa, mwaba believes, thanks to the dramatic social and technological changes that are taking place. interestingly, market research is a sphere that has, until now, remained relatively unaffected &gt;&gt; </p><p>Kambe Mwaba wise brands leverage radio and TV to point consumers to their digital domain </p><p>March 2013 strategicmarketing 45</p></li><li><p>46 strategicmarketing March 2013</p><p>March 2013 strategicmarketing 47</p><p>PHO</p><p>TO: S</p><p>UPPL</p><p>IED</p><p>, GAL</p><p>LO/G</p><p>ETTY</p><p> IMAG</p><p>ES</p><p>by these developments. But, according to Mwaba, it is now poised to catch up. And, as a young person who interacts daily with these forces increasingly shaping our lives, she maintains that there are a lot of valuable insights she can bring to the industry. Thats important, because while South Africas industry may have advanced in terms of the technology available, the processes used havent progressed significantly. This is in stark contrast to its European counterparts, where pen and paper data collection has long been discarded in favour of computer-aided processes. </p><p>It was her understanding of the challenges posed by this state of affairs that encouraged Mwaba to research the interaction between South African consumers and brands in the digital space. I was first introduced to the subject through my work on TNSs </p><p>Digital Life Survey, which showed that, while South Africans enjoy engaging with one another on social-media platforms, theyre reticent when it comes to interacting with brands across these channels, Mwaba explains.</p><p>Her interest piqued, she approached TNS client service director, Mark Molenaar, to act as his assistant on a project based on the findings of the Digital Life Survey.</p><p>Two key findings This formed the starting point of her research. From there, Mwaba uncovered two key findings, the first being that there are still several technological factors inhibiting engagement. </p><p>Most South Africans access the Internet through their handsets, and data costs are high. Since people have limited air time, theyd rather use it for actual conversations, she explains. Added to this, Internet speeds are still slow. Mwaba points to the two-second rule, with users losing interest if content is not downloaded literally within seconds. Then again, with so many different mobile phones in use in South Africa from the most basic handsets to sophisticated smartphones its understandable that brands dont always get this right. </p><p>Users are downloading sites that dont fit their screens, or that are difficult to navigate, Mwaba says. Consumers attitudes are also at play. Many are still more comfortable with traditional media; the concept of accessing a company website for information feels foreign to them and they balk at the idea of providing personal details online in case they receive funny e-mails in return. </p><p>Mwaba calls this the fear of spam or scam. If they consider e-mail too personal a means of engagement, then they find Facebooks Friend requests outright invasive. The idea just doesnt sit well with them. They cant fathom why brands are in this space and what they are trying to achieve, Mwaba explains.</p><p>How can brands overcome these obstacles? First, understand what people want to get out of the interaction why they follow your blog or befriend you on Facebook, Mwaba advises. Rather than simply assuming that a like is a show of loyalty and support, </p><p>consider that users may be on the lookout for gains like discounts and competitions. Or that, in South Africa, many consumers feel that it is easier to get a response online than from a call centre. </p><p>Overlook these dynamics and you may miss out on an important opportunity for effective interaction. Worse still, consumers may end the connection if brands and their marketers are not addressing their needs. Remember, too, that traditional channels remain important, Mwaba advises. TV and radio are still among the most powerful mediums, especially in South Africa; in fact, wise brands leverage these channels to point </p><p>consumers to their digital domain. Finally, it may sound obvious, </p><p>but online channels are tools for engagement so be sure to actively engage, Mwaba urges. Her research showed that many brands set up an online community and thats it there are no further conversations. However, its not about gathering numbers. Use your community as a forum for posting news and answering queries, because the consumer has a short attention span. If they dont feel theyre receiving value from the relationship, they might just exit it. </p><p>Mwaba says that compiling her paper was a major learning curve. Initially, I knew very little about mobile strategies and campaigns </p><p>(because) theyre developing so quickly as more brands want to move into the online space. Seeing how this is happening and gathering the opinions from bloggers, the industry and people on the street was an inspiring process for me.</p><p>Now, shes looking forward to seeing her own industry wake up to the possibilities offered by technology. There are ways to collect data besides pen and paper; methods that are faster and cheaper and that make our jobs as market researchers easier. Im so excited to be able to play a part in fostering this development, she concludes. </p><p>On the up - Young marketers ascending the marketing ladder</p><p>South African consumers feel itis easier to </p><p>get a response online</p><p>While South Africans enjoy engaging with each other on social media platforms, theyre reticent when it comes to interacting with brands across these channels.</p></li></ul>