2017 Strategy: How Brands Can Look Beyond 2016
By Tunji Faleye
The year 2016 has come and gone, however, different experiences business owners passed through in the last twelve months are better said than imagined. It was a year of unprecedented economic uncertainty where recession affected almost all the businesses negatively. Some were battered, while others were able to survive the recession through creativity. Indeed it was a year that many Nigerians will never forget in a hurry
It was a year that the Nigerian government began on a shaky note after a dispute emerged between the legislative and executive arms over irregularities in the budget. However, after ball passing and apportioning blames, the budget was eventually passed in March, five months after it was proposed.
The year also witnessed free-fall in the price of crude oil in the international market which also continued amid renewed militant attacks that forced government to remove subsidy from PMS in May. The immediate effect of the removal of oil subsidy was the increase in fuel price from N98 per litre to the current standardized price of N145 per litre. The volatility in the foreign exchange market also hastened the economy’s descent into further recession.
For instance, figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) towards the end of 2016 indicated a worrisome negative growth in the economy for three consecutive quarters in the year. That made experts to conclude that if the trend continued that way the country may slip into depression in the first quarter of 2017. The report noted that the performance of almost every sector of the economy recorded a staggering decline, signalling serious danger for the country.
It is needful to say that the recession also had devastating effects on brands and agencies, (integrated marketing communications as a whole) in the country.
While some brands and agencies suffered collateral damage and fallen on bad times, others made frantic efforts hoping for a ‘miracle’ to put them back on track. Yet, a few others appear to be undisturbed by the economic crisis as they have neither declined nor improved on the previous year’s performance.
In spite of the turbulent economy in 2016, industry also found time to reward deserving brands and agencies for excellence in creativity. The Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) Awards for Marketing Excellence 2016 was staged to awards excellence in the industry.
The ADVAN Awards for Marketing Excellence 2016 which had several categories saw Indomie win “The Brand of the Year” Award. The position also carries a dual award of “The Brand Manager of the Year” Award. The second position went to Coca-Cola while Heineken took the third position. For the first time too, ADVAN awarded Delta State the winner of the maiden Public Sector Marketing Category.
In the same vein, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) also organised 2016 Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (LAIF) Awards ceremony which was held in December with many agencies coming out in flying colours, while some were caught up in the usual ‘sit don look’ winning no award, hoping for a better outing in LAIF Awards in 2017.
Despite the fact that January is already out in the calculation of many brands and agencies for the year, experts foresee 2017 standing strong on the side of creativity, real authenticity, unfiltered imperfection and innovation.
They believe that, it is time for brands to redefine what authenticity really means in their story. It may no longer be just about heritage, but rather staying true to oneself because new customers will look for brands that are more honourable, open and transparent, respects the consumer, partnerships, and communities.
A brand’s positioning authenticity should now be more focused on the future: leadership and being innovative, standing strong for positive changes in society, ethics, and integrity.
Brands should embark on integrated corporate social responsibility (CSR) and communicate it clear and well for consumers and the people in general, this will enable new generation of consumers to choose and engage with the brand.
The year 2017 will require organisations to change their packaging design. Product design should also be taking into special consideration. Already we can see new innovation especially in the food sector. It is imperative to know that elements such as simple minimum design, transparent bottles, natural and easily readable ingredients, being open on manufacturing and overall process involved in production will prevail in the year. Organisations should know that expensive short-lived packaging can still appear attractive to a consumer’s eye, yet not making any meaningful impact and in overall affects company’s reputation negatively.
Brands need to strategise adequately in 2017. It is pertinent to say that brands have focused more on millennia’s to the detriment of the new kids. Many brands totally missed out on the new kids because of misplaced priority. It is important to know that, people who are born after 1996, Generation Z who possess much more individualistic and realistic approach to life are warming up to enter the global workforce with their realistic approach of being the best.
This means that brands will need to become more structured and allow more flexibility that will suit individualised needs of this new generation.
The year 2017 promises to be a great and inspiriting ride for many brands and other businesses, only if they do the needful and prepare to survive the dynamic landscape of the modern market.