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Now for hyper-relevance

There’s been a sudden shift in consumer gravity, argues a new whitepaper, Welcome to The Hyper-Relevance Era, from Accenture Africa’s Digital practice.

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Today’s business landscape is consumer-centric, forward-looking, adaptive and constantly evolving. It’s a new era in which brands must embody not only meaning, dynamism and dedication, but transparency and accountability. Organisations that fail to adapt will struggle to compete in the next few years.

Wayne Hull, Managing Director for Accenture Digital, Africa and co-author of the whitepaper explains, “Consumer expectations today have become highly liquid. For example, if you’re a South African bank providing an online experience, your customers aren’t comparing your offering only to what other local banks provide. They’re comparing it to Amazon and Facebook. Personalised, hyper-relevant experiences have become critically important to consumers.”

Hyper-relevance explained

Importantly, personalisation and relevance differ greatly. Personalisation is often static and time-lagged, delivered at the point of purchase in response to certain customer behaviours. Hyper-relevance, however, is dynamic and “always on”. It focuses on using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to understand customers’ needs in the evolving context in which they make their purchasing decisions.

The traditional approach is failing

The objective of the former ‘Loyalty Era’ was creating incentives for brand memberships which drove repeated purchases. The Relevance Era upends that thinking. The goal now is to create a gravitational field that attracts customers into orbit around a brand – a field strong enough to withstand the constant re-evaluation of the digital age.

Many established South African companies are already feeling the effects of the shift in consumer expectations, the whitepaper notes, and executives are seeing long-loyal customers begin to move to competitors.

According to Accenture’s 2017 Global Consumer Pulse, South African companies lost R663 billion in potential revenue in 2017 due to customer switching. 66% of those switches happened because customers felt the brands’ offerings lacked relevance.

A key reason for this change in behaviour is that in the Loyalty Era, consumers were discouraged from re-examining their options. In the Relevance Era, however, a new mobile-enabled and digitally savvy generation is continually challenging, assessing and comparing companies’ offerings. It’s a shift from the loyalty ‘loop’ of once-off assessment to a churn of continual evaluation. 2018 research conducted by Accenture noted that leaders in sustainable growth today not only understand the changing digital needs of customers, but pivot their growth strategies accordingly.

But that’s not all. “Consumers are turning ever more to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat to develop opinions about brands,” the whitepaper’s authors note. “And they’re consulting comparison-shopping and review websites at an accelerated rate, with 71 percent now saying that such online resources are important and influential to their purchase consideration. South Africans are even getting more comfortable acting on recommendations from intelligent-learning applications.”

Consequences of the change

Now more than ever, there’s a need for a strategic rethink. For CMOs in particular, the new consumer landscape calls for an expansion and realignment of the marketing framework.

Fortunately, with advancements in data analytics, companies now have the ability to see and react to consumer fluctuations in the moment. Moreover, every transaction or engagement can be tapped, yielding the key data needed to personalise future experiences.

The age of hyper-relevance is upon us. The message: adapt, or your customers will switch to your competitors, and soon.

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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Huawei puts $1-bn into local developer programme

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Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) South Africa has announced the launch of a local Developer Programme called Shining-Star. Huawei announced an investment of $1-billion in support of this programme across global markets, of which South Africa forms part.

‘‘HMS already has more than 570 million global users, including more than 15 million in Africa, with our business covering more than 170 countries,’’ says Likun Zhao, vice president of Huawei Consumer Business Group for Middle East and Africa. “We provide a trusted, device-centric and inter-connected eco-system that improves the user experience, helping them to discover quality content while ensuring security and privacy.”

The developer programme, announced at AfricaCom in Cape Town last week, is the first of its kind in South Africa. Huawei says it “will provide an encompassing eco-system that aims to encourage local developer innovation and support, while Huawei’s AppGallery provides a platform for developers to showcase and publish their apps”.

The platform offers open e-point access and intelligent global distribution for all apps, ranging from smart home, gaming and music to education and health-related apps.

The Shining-Star Programme has been successfully implemented in Malaysia, which has the highest number of Huawei users relative to other smartphone brands in this country. Like Malaysia, South Africa has a considerable number of Huawei users.

Shining-Star will focus on assisting local app developers who face challenges like lack of funding for app eco-systems, testing, and monetisation of their apps. South African developers particularly struggle to market their games and find investors.

“We are committed to working on empowering local app developers by offering them some much-needed infrastructure, guidance, skills and support to grow local talent,” said Zhao. “Our focus is to provide an open platform for developers that they can use to launch and market their apps, as well as give them extensive support in the form of technical development, testing, and legal and marketing tools.”

Huawei HMS Core is a hub with tools like the Account Kit, which enables users to access developers’ apps using Huawei IDs; Game Service, which enables game development; Location Kit, which provides developers with hybrid locations; Drive Kit, a data storage and management solution; and Map Kit, which offers customisation of map formats to developers.

In addition to these developer-specific tools, the Huawei HMS Core hub has growth enablers like the Push Kit and an Analytics Kit, which enable, respectively, the sending of messages and analysis of user behaviour. An Ad Kit and In-App Purchases Kit are also available, so developers can earn income from their apps. Key resources such as API reference, development guides and sample code assist are also part of the programme.

At present, more than 50,000 apps are connected to HMS Core worldwide.

* App developers with a completed app can visit https://developer.huawei.com/consumer/en/, or contact the Huawei SA Business Development team on developersa@huawei.com to find out how Huawei can support them.

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