Who Owns Whom

The importance of adapting to change when taking brands to the market

Many a good brand has died a sad death due to lack of access to markets and a good understanding of how to get brands to the market.

While marketing and branding today are vastly different from how things were done in the past, characteristics and principles embedded in the tools and messaging have remained. Content, originality and endorsements are still relevant. Billboards, print, radio and TV advertising have had to cope with significant competition from digital and social media.

Young people do not spend time reading a newspaper or magazine, and are watching less traditional TV channels except for reality shows and sports compared to the time they spend on social media either creating content or following others on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. Even within the social media platforms, there has been a shift towards the latter two at the expense of the former in the younger generation, with a whole new group of followers who engender influencers’ endorsements. These influencers earn income promoting products and services by reaching a wider audience than media channels.

A good knowledge of social media users is key to driving advertising as much as the message and slogans being carried. Long messages generally don’t work well, slogans do. They capture attention, they ease and improve recall for when a purchase is in the offing, and reduce cognitive dissonance. In the book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath made that point convincingly.

The graph from the WOW report on the footwear industry in South Africa illustrates that revenue has steadily increased and is above pre-pandemic levels, reflecting the competitiveness and resilience of the industry.

The footwear industry like other sectors, has been gradually embracing digitalisation with online technologies having become essential for companies to stay competitive, streamline operations, and enhance customer experiences.

A good South African footwear story

Bathu, a South African footwear manufacturer, nailed it and did things right, setting an example that successful companies have a place in South Africa. It created identification with its slogan “Walk your journey” and combined it with a strong township South Africa association.

Bathu has a slick online presence and was able to create a niche market for its footwear, against giants like Nike and Adidas, which is not a small feat.

Conclusion

The adoption of digital technologies in the South African footwear industry has reshaped the landscape of marketing, challenging traditional methods while offering unprecedented opportunities. This is evident in how local brands connect with consumers, with Bathu being a good example. The brand navigated the digital race, leveraged social media, has a slick online presence and a resonant slogan.

The industry’s resilience, which is showcased by a steady revenue growth, emphasises the  effectiveness of marketing strategies that include digitalisation. However, the open-ended nature of digital media underscores the importance of responsible usage. As South African brands continue this digital journey, mindful integration remains key for sustained success.

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