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‘How successful brands sell experience not products’


Retail market PHOTO: Google image

Gone are the days when businesses relied on products and services for success, as sales are becoming less dependent on products and services simply because the consumers are turning attention to the buying experience of the products and services.

According to a research by Martin Lindstrom, about 90 per cent of purchasing decisions are made based on feelings. Hence, products would sell better through compelling stories shared rather than feature lists.

These were some of the concerns shared at the 2019 Global Africa Forum on Communications (GAFCOMM) held recently in Rwanda, where brand builders and communicators were urged to discontinue the strategy of building retail across products but people.

The theme, Speak for Africa: New Frontiers for Africa’s Global Growth Story reflected on Africa’s image and exploring new frontiers to position African entities for global growth.


GAFCOMM saw the gathering of more than 1,000 Corporate Communications, PR, Advertising, media and marketing executives from corporations, startups, government institutions and other organisations around Africa. Led by more than 50 global industry leaders in communications and marketing as panelists, where many Nigerian firms were actively represented.

Lekan Lawal, the Chief Operating Officer of Leo Burnett Lagos, who contributed to one of the panel sessions on “the future of retail in Africa” at GAFCOMM, shed more light on what was discussed.

Lawal told The Guardian, “Retail should be designed around people, not products. It should be designed in the context of multichannel shopping. We must deliver a relevant message that meets our shoppers’ needs at every channel along her path to purchase.”

According to him, the battle is on the ground already.  Africa is one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world, he posited, adding, “household consumption has increased even faster than its gross domestic product (GDP) in recent years — and the average yearly GDP growth has consistently outpaced the global average.”

Lawal said, “the vast majority of consumer spending on the continent still currently takes place in informal, roadside markets. But the consumer today holds the most power – better connected, and better informed.

“So then, how can brands connect with these consumers in a manner that is resonant and relevant, in order to build stronger relationships, in their quest to push the growth Agenda?” he queried.

Lawal said, “this African consumer is driven by hope and fear; hence we must understand them to a granular level. The more confident they are, the more they spend. The less confident the more they go into saving mode. Deeper understanding the African consumer, both as a consumer and as a shopper therefore is crucial to winning in retail.”

Commenting on how Africa can solve it challenges through communication, Lawal said, “most disputes are as a result of breakdown in communication. Africa must commit to a holistic campaign that deliberately projects its best to the world, and even more importantly work towards improving their continent.

“Communication will play a big role in fostering meaningful dialogue among different African nations, and nurture a shared vision for the continent’s future.

Most developing countries have a diverse society. Some are deprived of access to the mass media, and thus ever silent in the process of national dialogue, Leo Burnett Boss said.

According to him, this great divide, both in terms of access to information and contribution to knowledge, generates social and political tension, not to mention horrendous economic injustice.

“This cannot go on. We, in the field of communication, need to exert our best in bringing together the diverse cultures in the developing world into a mosaic with distinct parts or a fully integrated rainbow of colors that every citizen is proud of,” Lawal stated.

He added that communicators are leaders. They help others see opportunities and current realities with a new lens, enabling everyone to act in harmony. He said however noted that only when citizens of a country have nurtured a truly shared vision, transcending personal agendas, can the process of national development reach the tipping point for accelerated growth.

“Indeed, a country may develop only when its leaders realize the wisdom in the principle – power shared is power multiplied, not power diminished.”

Also commenting on the future of marketing and building stronger human connections, Lawal said, “we must control our narrative as Africans, as we seek to connect with people. The human connection more than ever has become crucial, because the battle for brands now is on the ground – as people now expect brands to relate with them as humans not consumers.”


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