Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In 2011 it's a Wild, Wired, Wellthy World!

Last year, I became a member of the Twitter community and have to admit in doing so, my blogging efforts halted as I found Twitter so much more fun and easier instead. However I do write more than 100 characters from time to time and here is my latest piece which I was asked to submit by on 11 Trends for 2011.

It's a Wild. Wired. Wellthy. World!

The recent global recession has changed our world forever. In a new digital age, characterised by oversupply and too many product types in almost every market, the challenge for companies will be to locate and capture pools of high-profit demand and be able to move with speed and flexibility to take advantage of them. Here are 11 trends for 2011.

1. Lions on the move:

This is how the McKinsey Global Institute refers to Africa's economic growth, which they say is "creating substantial new business opportunities that are often overlooked by global companies. Consumer-facing industries, resources, agriculture, and infrastructure, together could generate as much as [US]$2.6 trillion in revenue annually by 2020, or [US]$1 trillion more than today. The rate of return on foreign investment is higher in Africa than in any other developing region. Global executives and investors must pay heed."

Unsurprisingly, Africa expects an Internet revolution. According to the Trends in Africa 2010 report by World Wide Worx, more than 90% of business decision-makers across Africa are expecting prices to drop and competition to increase dramatically in 2011.

"ADSL is fast becoming the standard form of business Internet access across Africa - more than 40% of businesses in these 20 countries are using it," says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx. 

Expect more double-digit growth in users of general Internet applications, email on cellphones, banking and the emergence of cloud computing in Africa. 

2. Wild ascent of the 4th screen (mobile):

More eyeballs and more money will be invested in this channel in 2011. South Africa's mobile penetration rate is more than 110%. Mobile is über-omnipresent and transcends most barriers - solar panel technology is even enabling poor isolated rural communities with no electricity to charge their cellphones and connect to the commercial world.

Apart from offering mobile transactions, local banks led in 2010 by enabling mobile money transfers into cash in pocket. Growing affordability of smartphones will put the www in more South African hands than ever before. These devices will increasingly enable consumers to participate in social and mobile commerce, find or receive dynamic deals right at the point of sale, compare prices online, partake in group or member deals and buy, buy, buy!

Collective buying models such as Groupon, with 35 million registered users, make social mobile commerce very appealing. warns companies to watch out for pricing pandemonium where "consumers are constantly connected, and when they hear about new deals online can quickly and easily spread them through their social networks."

Think group member sales and flash sales!

3. Gadgets, gadgets and more gadgets:

Technology will continue to change the way we live and consume.

The recent International Consumer Electronics Fair in Las Vegas revealed key trends: forget 3D television, which is still slow in its uptake; new gadgets and software will let you create your own 3D photos and videos using 3D consumer cameras.

Smartphones are becoming more capable, and wireless streaming technology is becoming more faster than ever. Consumers will also be able to use their smartphones as remote controls and there are developments in 4G Wireless and Windows Phone 7. All the major chip companies are touting new, mobile-focused versions of their processors.

While there is some product availability lag in South Africa, we don't lag in desirability! SA is still waiting for decent availability of tablets, but it will come. Industry analysts predict as many as 20 different varieties of tablets to premiere globally over the coming year.

4. Integration and innovation:

Investment in brands remains under pressure.

Advertising spend in SA showed little real growth for the past two years, if you exclude rate increases and spend directly related to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2011, prospects will be more positive; however, only double-digit growth (real) will come from digital channels.

As this category is hopelessly under-read, we won't really know how much, only that it'll grow in leaps and bounds off its small base.

Certainly, though, we can expect more competition between and innovation from SA media houses, which will ramp up efforts to integrate media platforms and offer consumers multiple entry points to access information and content (web, radio, print, TV, mobile, out-of-home) and provide advertisers more integrated cross-platform advertising opportunities.

5. Move out of traditional sponsorships deals:

In the latter half of 2010 Standard Bank, one of South Africa's largest advertising spenders, announced its decision to withdraw investment by May 2011 from its sports sponsorships. It had invested around R100 million a year into Cricket South Africa; it also announced a cut in ties with Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

This has sent a strong message to the sponsorship community and also to other marketers who invest in traditional sponsorships. It's hard to believe they won't question the value of their deals.

In 2011, where will the money that was invested in the 2010 FIFA World Cup be redirected? Will it be reinvested in company margin or will we see some new innovation in the sponsorship area? 

6. More digital newsstands:

It's been reported that Google may build a digital newsstand for Android in order to compete with a similar service offered by Apple via its iTunes store. This is clearly a major challenge and one to watch in 2011.

Digital newsstands will impact traditional newsstand sales of a variety of media and entertainment products. They break geographic boundaries and open products to new markets and consumers. With the very high mobile penetration in SA and increased accessibility to smartphones, this cannot be underestimated.

Some believe successful digital newsstands will not focus on brands, but will focus on artists, authors, topics and articles. That'll really pose a major shift for brand, media and entertainment companies if it becomes a reality!

7. Social media gets sexier:

And continues to change the way in which consumers interact with media, brands and companies. Everyone will be taking social media more seriously in 2011. 

Expect more companies conversing with more consumers on Facebook (there's no single traditional media channel that holds captive the sheer number of consumers that social phenomenon FaceBook has - 600 million users and growing); more businesses and their CEOs on Twitter and other networking platforms; and more money to service providers which generate effective brand solutions and creative, profitable, ideas to companies.

Consumers are no longer just content generators; they are also content curators and don't necessarily want their "walls turned into malls," so companies have to learn from best practice and understand consumer needs in much more precise ways than ever before.

Social gaming is predicted to be become the "Super Bowl of Marketing." Companies must come up with clever ways to incentivise social media participants in games with rewards. 

8. More consumer consciousness:

This social world is leading to more consciousness, and more sharing of this consciousness with their communities.

Whether it's concerns about the effects of global warming and a greater appreciation for environmental issues as communities feel the full effects of floods, snowstorms, earthquakes and many other disasters sparked by environmental disruption; worries about the abuse by political leaders of their power of office; global human or animal right challenges; or even just the challenge of basic labour rights of workers in a local corporate institution, unquestionably consumers are more empowered than ever before, with information brought real-time to their mobile or pc devices. 

9. More consumer activism:

A more conscious and connected consumer will have a profound impact on the growth, or not, of brands, companies, countries and even individuals - a disturbing trend in Asia of late is the rise of "hate mobs", spawned by social media.

Consumers are realising they have a voice online and with this comes more risqué behaviour and brashness, including fair dollops of brand-bashing, as increasingly open and transparent conversations about brands and companies take place on social media platforms. They are more powerfully organised and networked, so news travels fast. More companies and governments named and shamed, Wikileaks or other "leaks" and, yes, it's unlikely that Julius Malema will topple Twitter.

South Africans will see the introduction of the new Consumer Protection Act in 2011, which will add serious weight to consumer rights, so companies had better be prepared for active and intelligent engagement! Think more reputational management, a renewed focus on values and adherence to a moral marketing code!

10. Consumer longevity:

According to the UN Population Division, "by late 2011 there will be seven billion humans on earth". Today, half the world's population, that is three billion people, live in urban areas. Also, close to 180 000 people move into cities daily, adding roughly 60 million new urban dwellers each year. (Source: Intuit, October 2010).

Not only are there more people but also people living longer, and scientists estimate the population may reach nine billion before 2050-in 2045. Obviously, not all are active consumers. However, the progress is notable.

It took more than 20 000 years to reach one billion consumer participants in the world. It took 20 years to reach the second billion. By 2012 ,we'll have reached the third billion. The effect this is having on Earth is critical and Africa and South Africa are no exception!

As National Geographic reports, "Water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day. Decades from now, there'll likely be two billion more mouths to feed, mostly in poor countries. There'll be billions more people wanting and deserving to boost themselves out of poverty. If they follow the path blazed by wealthy countries-clearing forests, burning coal and oil, freely scattering fertilisers and pesticides-they too will be stepping hard on the planet's natural resources. How exactly is this going to work? "

11. 'Wellthy':

In humankind's desire for longevity, good health is becoming as important to some consumers as having the biggest, newest or shiniest status symbols; there is a growing appreciation of the priceless value of good health.

Around the world, increasing numbers of consumers will expect health products and services in 2011 (and beyond) to prevent misery and improve their quality of life, rather than merely treating illnesses and ailment. So says, which adds: "An estimated 500 million people worldwide are expected to be using mobile healthcare applications by 2015."

In SA, the planned introduction of a National Health Care system over the next few years will have a fundamental impact on a consumer's personal health and management thereof! Information and technology will be a key and positive enabler of consumer health consciousness. In 2011, be wellthy.

The last trend is particularly close to my heart since I purchased Longevity magazine in December 2010. Our first printed issue is out on 21st February 2011. Yahooooooo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What the future looks like

I recall a conversation I had three years ago with an older colleague of mine. We both were working for a large media company and were debating the impact of digital media channels and potential displacement of traditional channels and skills. When I told him I was hoping to up skill my traditional media skills to join this digital revolution, he smirked and suggested I had already reached my expiry date and should just accept that it wasn’t possible for me to adapt to the changes technology heralded. He was resolute that the digital world belonged to those under the age of thirty, indeed the younger the better and we should all just accept this and step aside to make way for them.
Well as much as I valued his insight then I couldn’t bring myself to accept this rather ghastly media death sentence and started a process of equipping myself with as much technological knowledge my aging brain could take. Today, I’m proud of the fact that I’m a digital immigrant, albeit a learner one at that.
Certainly my colleague wasn’t wrong about those at the vanguard of the digital revolution. A recent report by Morgan Stanley in the UK on the media consumption habits of teenagers has put this firmly in perspective and caused quite a stir. We’ve had an inkling of some of these trends in South Africa in research conducted by Hot Dogz Inc and published in the Sunday Times early this year. However, when Morgan Stanley issues a report about how digital media is transforming consumer behaviour and traditional media business models, everyone takes note.
The author of the report is a 15-year-old Intern called Matthew Robinson. His observations include that teenagers are vociferous consumers of a wide variety of media, but will almost certainly not pay for any of it. They resent intrusive advertising, especially on TV, Internet and Billboards. Print media, particularly newspapers are irrelevant, they will willingly chase after content and music across platforms and devices and Events (concerts, cinemas etc) are popular and one of the very few media they will pay for. Convergence of Gaming TV, mobile and Internet is accelerating with huge implications for PayTV. These teenagers don’t listen to much Radio either, but occasionally tune in to it. Rather they stream music content from the Internet for free of course.
Mobile is key and price critical both in terms of handset and pay as you go packages and many teenagers prefer watching videos on YouTube displacing traditional forms of entertainment.
What’s hot to them is anything with a touch screen, mobile phones with large capacities for music, portable devices that can connect into the Internet (iphones) and really big television sets. They don’t like anything with wires, phones with black and white screens, chunky phones and devices with less than a ten-hour battery life.
While these trends haven’t necessarily surprised everyone, I’ve been privy to dialogue locally questioning the relevance of these findings to South Africa where traditional media still firmly dominates the consumer landscape and where the clear economic divide has resulted in a unique market duality. It has been argued this duality will slow the adaptation to technology by the mainstream market even the younger ones at that and these future challenges are still far off.
However, I don’t agree. Given the massive penetration of cellular technology in this country alone and the reliance of this fourth screen, the uptake of younger consumers will mirror those mentioned in the Morgan Stanley review and if anything in some instances be more accelerated by local media platforms such as MixIt which has provided youngsters with a cost efficient social networking environment unique to South Africa. Also we cannot underestimate the impact Seacom will have on more affordable broadband. Changes to our local television framework also point to convergence becoming a reality and not a fictional script from a sci-fi Soapie.
One thing is clear - consumers of the not too distant future will be very different from those of today. Remember that within the next seven years Matthew and millions others like him should be making a full-time contribution to the economy. Their experiences in the digital realm will have conditioned them to expect more and demand more. They will naturally want things to happen faster and as much as possible for free.
These digital natives will be able to morph and adapt with ease to technology changes, constantly presenting business with the challenge to meet their hungry demands. Businesses will be challenged to firstly find them, then to hold their attention, long enough to converse with them in a relevant manner in order to turn the exchange into a sale. Challenging indeed!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Teamwork makes helpfulness a reality again!

For the past eight months several teams at FNB have been involved in a challenging project. The revitalisation of our transaction website Once again it proved that that working together in a collaborative team framework produces a better result than that of any individual effort to make helpfulness a reality.
It started with the assembly of a Digital Committee in FNB consisting of a small team of managers in FNB led by Brand. We delivered a strategic presentation to our EXCO encouraging them to buy-in and invest resources into implementing our digital strategy. Much of this strategy is now evident with work to date. It includes our social media efforts, RB Jacobs on Twitter, our various Facebook profiles, our Google initiatives, ORM systems, websites such as www.shine2010 and, and of course now
The key focus of our strategy is to make our brand promise of “how can we help you?” a reality.
I will admit to feeling a momentary and very short lived wave of self-importance in managing to get the FNB’s senior management to listen to our thinking. However, I soon had to get off my high horse and step back to allow the CEO of FNB Online to take over and create a whole new framework for She in turn assembled a key team in her division and engaged with all stakeholders, to put together the technical framework for the new site. I think they’ve done a great job!
This project was not without it’s lows. The time parameters of the project were very tight and created a lot of stress in the working teams. There was also jostling between business units to ensure their voice would be heard the most and from time to time, those who shouted the loudest seemed to get furthest. However in the end, sensibility prevailed. Even in the most difficult discussions, productive resolutions were reached. The important lesson for everyone was to differentiate what was motivated by self-interest and what's right for our customers. Not easy, but helped by the internal culture at FNB, which encourages Innovation, Accountability, Pride, Ubuntu and Respect.
We now have a great working start in a customer centric website. It's also really a work in progress approach which will see further enhancement and improvement over the months to come. As with all ground breaking projects there will be glitches and lessons to be learned. However and importantly makes helpfulness a reality to our customers in this communications space.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

men and their magnificent flying machines

My husband is an adrenaline junkie who has a particular love of anything that has wings and he can fly, so I get to meet all sorts of really interesting and often eccentric people (like him) who do, quite frankly, rather dangerous, but fascinating things with their lives.
I just stepped off the airplane from Cannes and was spirited away to a charity fundraiser for the first South African who is going to compete in the Red Bull X-Alpes, a non-stop extreme adventure challenge in Europe. It was here that I met James Pitman, who isn’t going to the X-Alpes, but has a great adventure of his own coming up. James and his partner Mike Blythe exemplify to me the great spirit of entrepreneurship and adventure, which is uniquely South African. They have built and intend to fly a prototype Sling aircraft from Johannesburg, South Africa, to the Oshkosh Airventure Airshow, in Wisconsin USA, in July this year. The Sling, they say is a new light sport aircraft developed in a forge of passion and careful thought, her creators’ brief being to develop the world’s most practical and desirable light sport aircraft. The two adventurers will return to Johannesburg by continuing their journey west, circumnavigating the globe en route. The journey, including 6 days in Oshkosh, is planned to take place over approximately one calendar month, commencing on 15 July and returning on 17 August 2009.
In my earlier days as Publisher of Out There magazine, a magazine for adventure enthusiasts, I met Mike Blythe. Indeed we awarded him the title of Adventurer of the Year for his extraordinary aviation pursuits, so it didn’t surprise me that he was still committed to a life of thrills in the sky. His partner James is an ex-lawyer and mining investor - also following his passion of science, creation and aviation.
Theirs is a story to inspire - South Africans challenging new frontiers, creating homemade machines and having the courage to follow their dreams and I for one am going to follow these chaps on their global adventure at Hopefully I can persuade them to Tweet along the way…

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Slave or not?

I was sad to leave Cannes today, because each year for a few days in my hectic life schedule I get to sit and listen and marvel at the amazing innovation that is shaping our advertising, media and communications.
This year was no exception. I was exposed to many campaigns that honoured integration and took real consumer insights and applied them in inspiring ways. showed how a simple consumer insight could influence a presidential race, a brilliant campaign for the the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef will change tourism communication forever, Gillette's Campaign for men showed there are no holds barred online in demonstrating (pretty tastefully I have to say) how men should trim their pubic hair. And the campaign for Distracted Drivers/Road Safety got everyone talking.
I sat through fascinating insights on how 20 million consumers around the world interact with Xbox games each month and even Unilever use Microsoft's Free Interactive Games to sell margarine. The Sagami Original campaign for the world's thinnest condom was a beautifully crafted and thought out story that won a Grand Prix in PR. The work on the Deadliest Catch was riveting with very smart media integration and I just have to see that show!!!
We were told that men go online for fantasy and women for reality - sound familiar?
I learned about Microsoft Surface, Bing, the Long Nose, The Natal Project, the Eyeblaster Project to end traditional advertising, Skimmer, MagCloud and a whole lot of other really fascinating stuff - so much so that I was told I was becoming a technology slave one night at dinner by a techie (talk about calling the kettle black) who was watching me Tweet away. Slave or not, I cannot emphasis enough to communicators, marketers, advertisers and media specialists to get closer to the technical innovations that are changing our world. Find ways to bring the understanding into your business - collaborate with others, particularly technology partners, create campaigns that engage and most important become part of the conversation.
I started Tweeting from the time I arrived in Cannes and just this involvement and engagement shifted my absorption of information and clarity of thought and interaction with others. I warn you though; it is addictive (that’s the technology monk in me speaking).
My highlight was Twitter and the young and unassuming Biz Stone. Forget the $ 500 million. How incredible it must be to have been part of creating something that is changing the world so fundamentally. I say this, because for the past few days CNN has been a Twitter with the coverage of the riots in Iran and Twitter has been a key feeder to this. Twitter is becoming the news agency of the world and people are finding a voice that would otherwise be censored. All it takes is a mobile device and you can find your voice. Where major news corporations cannot be present or report the repressive tactics of governments, Twitter will make their voices heard. It's unstoppable and profound and I count myself lucky to live in this age where the individual can participate in this global conversation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

technology rules Cannes

The techies will continue to change our world. I’m more convinced of this than ever from my time here at Cannes. Sorry to say it’s not the creative talent or marketers who are setting the agenda here. Sure there are cool ideas, but it’s the geeks who have created and will create more and more tools unlocking a world of free and flowing communication and importantly captivating consumer attention.
The Media savvy Steve Ballmer CEO of Microsoft confirmed this. He exuded power and confidence as the paparazzi snapped away and Fortune fired off live questions at him. Later at the Cannes Awards Ballmer was named Media Person of the Year? Yes indeed.
Earlier on I listened with keen interest to the HP and RG/A team talk about Cloud Computing. Coming from a magazine publishing background I marvelled at MagCloud. This enables wannabe publishers to publishing virtually without the usual financial risks of magazine publishing and the revenue model is on demand. So the only real costs to the Publisher is the content generation - the rest is sitting in the Cloud only activated and printed on demand when a consumer buys the title. It’s really exciting for small niche publishers and even larger publishers who are testing new products. Importantly it puts the power in the hands of the individual and no longer in the hands of printers, distributors or retailers.
I've spent a good deal of my time with digital media strategists and tech savvy people and they are all saying the same thing. Technology will continue to set the agenda and we will have to constantly try to work out how we effectively join the ride.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

God, Flowers and Collaboration

Today confirmed that collaboration is key to communication success. Current market conditions and the growing influence of social media and participatory culture requires all of us - agencies, marketers, media houses/owners and the rest to humble down and collaborate. Clients are also going to have to take the lead and look at new models of remuneration to encourage and reward a more collaborative approach to their business.
Listened to case study on cool campaign for Sagami Original, the world's thinnest condom and winner in PR category. Great digital campaign!
I spent a lot of time in tech sessions. Bill Buxton a scientist working for Microsoft and creator of their latest innovation Microsoft Surface managed to get a laugh out of a weary crowd when he made light of the weighty topic of tech development. He told us three screens is child's play - we are heading quickly for a multi-screen environment where technology will change consumer interactions around multiple touchpoint tech offerings. We heard about the Long Nose (forget the Long Tail), how environmentalists will ensure that Print dies (they gotta save the trees), God being the founder of advertising and flowers being some of his greatest work. ..... well it certainly beat the prior experience of listening to the Principle Platform Evangelist who failed dismally to live up to her passionate title and content on integrative technology platforms to manage cross media implementation. Theme again - collaboration and integration, although poorly explained!
Later on at a party on the Carlton Hotel beachfront I got talking to Finance Week's Specialist Editor Tony Koenderman, considered SA's leading expert on Marketing and Advertising. He confirmed for the first time in many years at Cannes, there's proof in the campaigns that collaboration and integration has become a reality. That's great news, along with the two Lions SA agencies, Hunt Lascaris (Outdoor) and Network BBDO (Radio) picked up.