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Tap Into Township Marketing

Want to move your product into the township? There are many uniquely township-based strategies available.




Before you even start thinking about targeting township dwellers, bear in mind that townships cannot be considered a homogenous mass. Marketing plans may, therefore, need to differ from place to place. Even within a specific township, approaches can vary according to neighbourhood.

“Every township is different. There is no such thing as ‘township marketing’ in a generic sense, any more than there is ‘suburban marketing’,” says Neil Higgs, director of innovation and development at TNS Research Surveys.

“Even within a single township there can be big disparities in the way of life. Take Soweto as an example. It is huge and has many different neighbourhoods and diverse types of people.” The combination of ever-rising disposable incomes, improved infrastructure and the growing sophistication of shopping facilities has made townships increasingly appealing to once-shy businesses. This had led to the growth of Sandton-style shopping malls and the arrival of the prominent national retail chains.

A casualty of the change, though, are small businesses and informal traders who now face being squeezed out. Higgs suggests they could become useful partners for businesses entering the township market for the first time and requiring on-the-ground expertise.

“There is much room for partnerships with the very entrepreneurs who are being displaced by the formalisation of the economy in townships,” he says. “These small businesses represent a huge opportunity for marketers, as witnessed by the growth of branded containers.”

Social Interaction

A key distinction between townships and suburbs is the difference in social contact. Townships are far more interconnected, with face-to-face interactions, word-of-mouth and social networks being a daily undercurrent.

This suggests that sampling (giving away “freebies”) and nurturing formal or informal “brand ambassadors” can be an efficient way of spreading the word about a new product or service. Be aware,though, that news of bad service or an inferior product will spread equally quickly via these same networks.

Tactics like product sampling and leaflet distribution are relatively easy to implement, thanks to several companies which specialise in these services. Julia Renouprez of Primedia @Home says targeting can be as specific as a single taxi rank or as broad-based as door-to-door distribution to an entire township. Costs for a leaflet drop typically start at R100 per 1 000 leaflets.

Renouprez says marketers are often surprised at the amount of high quality geo-demographic information that’s available for individual townships. This enables specific neighbourhoods to be targeted in a cost-effective way, in accordance with the product’s target audience.

Targeting Commuters

Commuting is a township way of life and the taxi industry alone transports 16 million people, or 93% of the total commuter population of South Africa. Research earlier this year by Freshly Ground Insights (FGI) shows these people now spend more time than ever travelling – which translates into a captive audience for marketers with an appropriate message.

FGI’s research also indicates that taxi commuters are more affluent than previously thought, with 30% falling into the“black diamond” category of black upper middle class consumers.

ComutaNet, a company specialising in commuter marketing, offers a variety of ways to engage with this audience. These include in-taxi promotions, kiosk and gazebo promotions at selected ranks, and Rank TV and Star Radio, which broadcast exclusively to taxi commuters.

The Tavern Market

Taverns are an important social gathering point and are gaining credibility as a channel for reaching younger,free-spending and image-conscious township dwellers. Siwe Nyuswa, a director of Provantage Tavern Media, which does promotions in the tavern environment, says marketers shouldn’t make the mistake of equating a tavern with a shebeen.

“Taverns are where the green bottles hang out – defined by their taste in imported beers versus the brown-bottled local drinks. Taverns are also where consumers go to show off their success.” While there’s nothing to stop individual marketers arranging their own tavern promotions, be aware that there is a tried-and-tested formula for these activities and it may be best to use specialist promotion companies for this purpose.

Using Football

A recent innovation, riding on the back of the upcoming World Cup, are branded soccer game tables called Foozi. The games are free to play and the tables are placed free-of-charge in selected taverns, shebeens and community centres.

The company responsible for the concept, Foozi Gaming, derives its revenue from advertising placed on the tables. Spokesperson, Damon Freeman, says advertising campaigns can cover all available tables, or be targeted at a specific neighbourhood, township or region.

Ten tables for three months will typically cost R17 000 a month. However, there’s also a once-off branding cost of R1 100 per table, so Freeman recommends a longer period in order to a mortise start-up costs.

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Consumers Don’t Have An Attention Problem. It’s Just That Your Advertising Isn’t Very Good

With so much media available to consume, quality matters more than ever for ads.

Brendan Gahan




If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?

People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?

Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.

Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.

Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan

But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.

The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.

Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.

Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.

People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.

Related: 9 Strategies For Memorable Advertising When Your Audience Is Chronically Distracted

But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.

From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.

Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.

This article was originally posted here on

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6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From

Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.

Jayson Demers



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New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.

And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.

But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:

  1. Airborne
  2. Splenda
  3. New Balance
  4. Rice Krispies
  5. Volkswagen
  6. Red Bull
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Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell

If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.

Scott Brown



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Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.

Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.

For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.

Related: How do I know that my product is market-ready?

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