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How marketing will go tribal

Big branding campaigns are expensive and lead to diminishing returns for companies and consumers alike, and digital has yet to deliver on its promise of more personalised and less intrusive marketing. It’s time for a new approach where brands and consumers are connected by their values and beliefs.



By ERNEST NORTH, co-founder at Naked, the AI-driven car insurance provider

Over the past 10 years, we have seen digital technology reconfigure the relationships between brands and consumers. The rise of globalised competition has given people more choice than they have ever had before, while social channels mean that consumers have the ability to organise into communities of interest as well as a louder voice in their interactions with brands.

This shift means that big branding campaigns no longer have the power they once had. Though mass media campaigns can be prestigious and impactful, they are also expensive and untargeted. This approach also suffers from diminishing returns as dozens of brands in crowded, commoditised sectors compete to shout the loudest, trying to overwhelm consumers with hundreds of billboards, radio ads, sponsorships and other untargeted advertising.

Breaking through noise and clutter

Typically, in markets that are not very interesting or where the products themselves are not particularly differentiated, the goal is to break through the clutter and noise so that the brand’s name can be top of mind for the average consumer. These big campaigns lead to high customer acquisition costs—costs that traditional brands typically pass on to their clients in the form of higher fees or prices.

Ah, but this is all changing because of the shift to digital advertising, some might say. The reality, however, is that most digital advertising is not as personalised, efficient or non-intrusive as it is meant to be. The approach for most brands is to use crude demographic and behavioural data to target consumers with ads across a range of digital platforms.

For example, a property developer may use a social media platform’s data to target all 30-35-year old females in Johannesburg with a certain estimate of minimum income with an ad showing a residential estate close to a prestigious school. And once someone searches for home loans online or uses a bond repayment calculator, she will see popup pages for home financing wherever she may roam on the Internet for the next two months.

This approach—which essentially is a move from shouting to stalking—is flawed for a number of reasons. For starters, it still depends on intruding in the consumer’s life with dozens of marketing and advertising messages they might or might not want. Targeting people along lines such as age, race, gender, education, and suburb is not bringing a real personalised touch to marketing.

We are not our demographic data

As humans we are not defined along demographic lines, but by our mindsets and beliefs. What matters to most people is their definition of what’s right and wrong, their feelings about certain social trends, and their attitude to embracing new technology and new processes to lead better lives. Targeting people according to age or gender is ultimately as unfocused as putting up a billboard for everyone to see.

The other major problem with this approach is that customer acquisition costs remain high because one is paying to reach large audience segments that are not going to be interested in the brand or product. It does not scale into a way to bringing marketing and advertising costs down over time by talking to the customers that will relate most to the brand.

There is another way.

We are seeing many brands shift towards more personalised, granular and direct ways of reaching their customers. Many new-age brands such as Uber and Airbnb have grown more on the back of social media and word of mouth than through massive campaigns in mainstream media—and they have done so by focusing on connecting to people on the levels of values and lifestyle rather than demographics.

Such brands focus on reaching a ‘tribe’ through more sharply focused micro-campaigns on social channels and even in the real world. A ‘tribe’ refers to a group of people whose interests, values and behaviour align with those of a brand. When people buy from the brand, they are purchasing because they feel aligned with a tribe rather than because of features, functionality or branding power.

Scaling up personal storytelling

The beauty of tribal marketing is that customers tell the brand’s stories through authentic social media and word of mouth testimonials. People in the tribe feel as if they’re investing in the other members of the group (and earning themselves social credibility) by sharing the good news about a brand they love. The customer growth curve becomes exponential, and the marginal cost of acquisition becomes almost zero.

Brands have long tried to cultivate tribes using mechanisms such as loyalty clubs and in-house magazines, but today, the combination of social media and data enables us to take tribal marketing to the next level. Rather than spending lots of budget on big brand campaigns, the brand can use its money to reduce prices or create better customer experiences.

Tribal marketing will only work when the brand embeds the values and philosophies it promotes into everything it does. We can expect to see many companies try to create tribes in much the same way as every brand a few years ago desperately wanted to ‘go viral’ with its social campaign. A tribe needs to be built organically, with a product experience as the first building block.

In many industries, this means leaving behind legacy issues and processes and tricks and systems that have made consumers cynical. For some businesses, consumer unfriendly policies and systems are so deeply ingrained into the way they operate that it can be difficult to change. This has created fertile conditions for startups to challenge incumbents in industries as diverse as banking, insurance, transport, and retail.

These challenger companies will compete in different ways to those that came before them: by building enduring relationships with people who don’t just buy their product or service, but their purpose, values and community. Their customers become true fans of the brand, retelling its story to other people who share their values and interests.

This creates a virtuous circle—it enables the brand to grow without significant spending on traditional advertising and brand building, which allows it to drive down customer acquisition costs and deliver better value for money, which in its turn drives further growth and creates more advocates and fans for the brand.


Gaming gets rad at Rand Show



With the opening of the 125th Rand Show at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, today, gamers and cosplayers have a new destination to strut their stuff.

A new addition to the show, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion, is offering anything from gaming and cosplay to dance-offs and  science displays.

The organisers provided the following information (although several million exclamation marks and exaggerations have been removed!):

Fortnite Tournament

There was a time when Gaming was a considered a solitary pastime, confined to single player consoles; but that truly is a thing of the past with a fully immersive Fortnite Tournament open to all Fortnite afficionados and even those just starting out. Players can battle it out over both show weekends, including a final on each weekend. Family fan clubs can also get in on the action with live broadcasts of the game as it happens across screens – a full-on Fortnite family affair. Sponsored by PlayStation, gamers are truly going to be spoiled and should get in on the action as fast as they can because R 100 000 in cash prizes is up for grabs.

Smart Technology Centre will deliver a super-fast FibreMAX 500Mbps fibre link, wholly dedicated to the gaming pavilion to ensure that absolutely nothing ruins the thrill of the National Fortnite Tournament. 

“As the exclusive connectivity provider, we have gone all out to ensure an amazing experience for gamers,” says Dillynn Els of Smart Technology Centre (STC), an internet service provider (ISP) and IT technology partner. “When it comes to gaming and the best experience possible, it’s all about ensuring we provide a dedicated, uncapped, unshaped connection that makes every second count.”

Keen players can come along and enter on the day, but don’t delay because space is limited.

Fortnite Inspired Dance Off

Visitors can come along and be entertained by the finalists in the Fortnite inspired dance-off. There will be daily dances to enjoy for the entire duration of the show.

Come and play – Cosplay, to be exact.

The stage is set for a celebration of creativity and imagination that is going to be literally out of this world. Super hero heavy weights and masters of the mysterious will be letting their creative vision loose and take part in various Cosplay Tournaments and a visually stunning Cosplay Masquerade. Come see what all the fuss is about and get lost in this world costumes, colour and creative talent.

Games, Games and Science

For those wanting to get their gaming on, there will be three free play areas sponsored by Xbox with a host of games available to play. Xbox will be giving away 3 Xbox 1’s and an awesome Xbox 1X, but you truly have to be in it to win it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Kalahari Scientist will be onstage delighting visitors with his explosive displays that are guaranteed to up the ooh and aah factor with audiences young and old.

But wait, there’s more

Along with the larger-than-life gaming entertainment offering, visitors will also get to be the first gamers on SA soil to get a sneak peak of PlayStation’s brand new Mortal Kombat 11. Don’t miss your chance to experience the continuation of this epic saga through a new cinematic story that is more than 25 years in the making. The iconic showcasing brutal battles like never before, along with a host of customisable fighters with enhanced graphics and animations.

Other activities at the Pavilion include VR Experiences, a full-on NAG Nerf Arena, Gaming vendors with awesome gaming content, retailers selling gaming related products and software, and tutorials and workshops on how to improve your gaming skills, Celebrity Fortnite match off for charity.

With huge sponsors such as PlayStation, Xbox, MMS, NAG, SABC 2 and Smart Technology, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion is geared up to become a hot zone of entertainment.

Win big

In case the entertainment offering just doesn’t get the heart beats racing fast enough, an all-expenses paid trip to TwitchCon USA, sponsored by PlayStation, in conjunction with 94.7 Highveld Stereo, is waiting for one lucky visitor to grab it. Every ticket purchased into the Entertainment Gaming Pavilion qualifies as an entry, so bring the whole family along for the ride.

Tickets to the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion can be purchased at the show for R 20 which gives the ticket holder access for  two hours.

The pavilion will be open from 14h00 to 19h00 weekdays and 10h00 to 19h00 on weekends from 19 to 28 April 2019.

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Riaad Moosa show debuts on Vodacom Video Play



Riaad Moosa’s comedy special, Life Begins, will be the first major local title to be released on Vodacom’s video-on-demand service, Video Play.

As an award-winning comedian, actor, writer and presenter, Riaad Moosa is one of South Africa’s most renowned funny men. His one-man show is available for download on the platform from today, 26 April 2019. Life Begins is rated PG-16L

Vodacom’s says its affordable video-on-demand service, Video Play, has had an incredible uptake since its launch in August 2018, with over 2-million subscribers. 

“But with a proliferation of affordable video-on-demand platforms available to the South African market, what is it that gives Video Play the competitive edge?” it asked in a release this week. “Recognising the consumer’s need for flexibility and freedom of choice, Vodacom has ingeniously developed an adaptable subscription model that puts the power in consumers’ hands. Forget being tied down to a monthly subscription. Video Play gives consumers the liberty of choosing a daily, weekend or even monthly package. 

“Blockbuster movies can even be viewed for a once off cost, without subscription. Furthermore, these bundles can be purchased according to niche categories and genres, from Bollywood movies to gospel music.”

Consumers are able to pay for movies and series by using their airtime or adding it to their bill, eliminating the need for a credit card. Subscribers are also able to purchase video-specific data at a fraction of the regular price to consume constant content without overspending. Daily subscriptions start from R5 a day.

Zunaid Mahomed, Group Digital and Fixed Services Officer, says: “Video Play has enabled the company to provide a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. With the addition of Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins, we’re excited to offer consumers even more quality content and a wider variety of entertainment on demand than ever before. We’re putting quality entertainment, into the hands of anyone with a mobile device and an internet connection.”

Riaad Moosa describes his show as “very philosophical and existential”.

“It involves the normal issues of getting older while at the same time experiencing, at a maturity where I’m supposed to be wise, a world that is completely turned on its head.  It’s about how I negotiate all these things happening around me while trying to maintain a positive attitude. Through my comedic lens, I hope to put a different spin on that and hopefully I can enter my next 40 years with renewed vigour and excitement.”

To access Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins comedy special, register for Video via the Video Play website (

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