Word-of-mouth marketing to emerging black middle class women in South Africa

Van Loggerenberg, Marthinus (2009-12)

Thesis (MBA (Business Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Word-of-mouth is fluid and happening everywhere. Networks are invisible and sensitive to organisational behaviour. The post-modern consumer is sceptical of advertising messages. Friends' advice is trusted more. People love to be entertained and for a story to travel it needs to be sticky i.e. have simplicity, credibility and value. The product or message must be relevant and appropriate to their lives. Influencers exist in every product category and marketers could utilise them authentically to infiltrate network hubs. However, a contagious product is needed from a trusted, loved company with a solid reputation first before any buzz or referrals could commence. Communication between the company and the subject ought to be ongoing and personal. Companies must not just aim to please, but exceed expectations in an innovative way to gain attention. A clear differentiation from competitors stated in an unconventional and memorable way is a potent combination to make an impact and be remembered. Although the black middle class presents itself as an ever-growing goldmine, this buoyant part of the South African market is still underplayed and sometimes ignored by marketers. They are indeed different from the white middle class due to their frame of reference and the context of their background and should be approached differently in a marketing sense when truly gaining insight into their attitudes, values and belief systems. Coming from a tripartheid background, black middle class women are gaining economic and influential ground by the day. Word-of-mouth is an integral part of their life and network culture, especially standing with one foot in a Western world and another in their traditional African roots and culture, thus trusted advice from relevant sources is now more needed than ever. Understanding her dreams, being able to catch the fleeting moments which provide her motivation and collaborating with her is imperative for marketers to understand if their product or brand wants to be taken with her on her success journey. As she embraces technology more and gains access to the virtual world, creating and upholding digital interaction with her becomes increasingly important. In trying economic times, conspicuous consumption by the black middle class consumer is being put on the backburner, yet it would still remain a priority for this segment of the market for years to come as the quest towards self-actualisation is ongoing. Brands must be educated to follow up on their word-of-mouth campaigns, and provide support and appreciation to their pool of network influencers. Although measuring word-of-mouth is difficult it could be measured by objectives like sales-targets, with online activity being much easier to measure. In trying economic times an insightful and impactful word-of-mouth campaign could have a much greater return on investment than utilising the same old traditional media approaches. Media planning should commence from the customer‘s point of view and not from the company‘s point of view. By doing this the customer is treated like a true stakeholder of the company. When doing media planning, historic ways of making target market contact should be ignored and planning should be done on a completely clean slate thus to enable media planners and marketers to think innovatively. By incorporating these healthy media planning practices the door is opened for a possible word-of-mouth initiative to commence and thus a competitive advantage could be gained. The purpose of this literature study, which includes expert interviews, is to explore current word-of-mouth literature and tools available in light of globalisation enabling virtual communities and overlaying this with psychographical models available in South Africa, particularly focusing on the black middle class woman‘s evolvement sustaining cultural roots and traditional networks yet opening up to a changing media environment. The research question for this study thus is: How can brands and organisations utilise word-of-mouth marketing to reach and resonate with the modern emerging black middle class woman in South Africa today?

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Word-of-mouth is vloeiend en vind orals om ons plaas. Netwerke van mense is onsigbaar en sensitief vir die gedrag van enige onderneming. Die postmoderne verbruiker staan skepties teenoor advertensieboodskappe. Vriende se advies is meer betroubaar. Mense hou daarvan om vermaak te word en vir ʼn storie om te versprei is ʼn tipe volhoubaarheid nodig, dus die storie moet eenvoudig wees en kredietwaardigheid hê. Die produk of boodskap moet op hul lewens van toepassing wees en aldus relevansie hê. Die kategorie waarin elke produk geplaas word, huisves invloedryke verbruikers en sodoende kan bemarkers op 'n natuurlike wyse bestaande netwerke binnedring. ʼn Onderneming met ʼn eerbare reputasie wat geliefd en betroubaar is moet ʼn opwindende of opspraakwekkende produk kan lewer alvorens enige gonsing of reaksie in die mark kan geskied. Kommunikasie tussen die onderneming en die invloedryke persoon in eersgenoemde se teikenmarknetwerk moet deurgaans op persoonlike vlak geskied. Ondernemings moet poog om nie net aan hul verbruikers se verwagtinge te voldoen nie, maar om dit te oortref op 'n innoverende manier wat die aandag trek. ʼn Duidelike onderskeid tussen mededingers moet op ʼn onkonvensionele en indrukwekkende wyse plaasvind om sodoende ʼn volhoubare indruk te maak. Alhoewel die swart middelklas ʼn vinnig-groeiende goudmyn is, word hierdie uiters winsgewende sektor van die Suid-Afrikaanse mark steeds onderskat en somtyds deur bemarkers geïgnoreer. Die swart middelklas is immers verskillend van die wit middelklas as gevolg van hulle verwysingsraamwerk en agtergrond en moet dus anders in ʼn bemarkingskonteks benader word. Te meer gesien in die lig van hul opvattinge, waardes en geloofsoortuigings. Swart middelklas vroue, komende van ʼn drie-dubbele apartheids-agtergrond, styg in rasse skrede op ekonomiese vlak uit en raak veral invloedryk op vele gebiede. Hoorsê of oorvertellings is ʼn integrale deel van hulle lewens- en netwerkkultuur, veral as in ag geneem word dat sy met een voet in die Westerste kultuur en die ander gewortel in haar tradisionele Afrika kultuur staan. Daarom is vertrouenswaardige advies van relevante bronne nou meer nodig as ooit. Indien bemarkers daarin wil slaag dat sy hul produk of handelsmerk steeds bly gebruik soos sy meer suksesvol raak, moet hulle haar drome en die vlietende oomblikke wat haar motiveer verstaan en ook met haar bande smee. Soos sy meer vertroud raak met tegnologie en toegang verkry tot die virtuele wêreld, sal die skepping en behoud van digitale interaksie met haar al hoe belangriker word. Alhoewel duidelik waarneembare handelsmerkverbruik deur die swart middelklas tydens moeilike ekonomiese tye verflou of afplat, sal dit tog vir diesulkes nog jare 'n prioriteit bly soos wat hul konstante strewe na selfaktualisering daagliks aanhou groei. Handelsmerke moet daarna streef om gedurende word-of-mouth bemarkingsveldtogte sake konstant te bly opvolg. Hulle moet ook hul waardering toon aan diegene wat die grootste invloed het op ander in hul geïdentifiseerde netwerke van verbruikers en hulle aldus ondersteuning bied. Alhoewel die meting van word-of-mouth bemarking moeilik is, kan meting wel plaasvind deur doelwitte soos beoogde verkoopsyfers daar te stel. Aanlyn aktiwiteite is aansienlik makliker om te meet. Ondernemings kan heel moontlik ʼn groter verdienste-teenoor-investeringsmarge verkry, die resessie in ag genome, deur eerder indrukwekkende word-of-mouth veldtogte, geskoei op goeie markinsig te gebruik, as om terug te val op dieselfde ou tradisionele mediabenaderings. Die doel van hierdie literatuurstudie, wat ook onderhoude met kenners insluit, is om huidige word-of-mouth tegnieke en beskikbare literatuur te ontplooi teen ʼn agtergrond van globalisering wat skepping van virtuele gemeenskappe tot gevolg het. Hierdie inligting word dan gekorreleer met verskeie psigografiese modelle van die Suid-Afrikaanse swart middelklas mark. Hierdie studie fokus ook noukeurig op die vooruitgang van die swart middelklas vrou. Alhoewel sy nog haar tradisionele sosiale netwerke en kultuurgrondslag behou, stel sy haarself tog oop vir ʼn vinnig veranderende media-omgewing. Die navorsingsvraag van hierdie studie is dus: Hoe kan handelsmerke en ondernemings “word-of-mouth” bemarking gebruik om die ontluikende, moderne swart middelklasvrou in Suid-Afrika effektief te bereik en by haar aanklank te vind?

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