Getting Ahead of the Game: Brands in South Africa
According to a recent report, South Africa has a population of nearly 50 million people and of those, 5 million use the internet. A June 2009 study showed that although internet penetration in South Africa is low, 80% of users in SA who have internet access are shopping online. This means that is very important for brands to establish a good reputation and top-of-mind awareness with these users (i.e. potential customers) and future users via a robust online presence driven by social media.
As Moore’s law states, technology becomes cheaper and easier to access every two years. As this occurs more and more South Africans will have access to online social media tools especially via devices such as smart phones. It is important for brands to have already established a social media presence in the South Africa market when that happens. By the time the South African social media market expands in the coming years, brands will have had the opportunity to find out what works and doesn’t work in terms of methods of engagement and they will also have had the chance to get a head start in establishing themselves in a new market.
But the future is yet to come. Therefore, it is essential that brands identify and specifically target the SA market that currently has access to social media tools (i.e. people who have easy and internet access via a computer or smart phone). This current market will be key for establishing new brands and also, building the reputation of existing brands.
When the SA market does expand (i.e. more people gain access to the internet), the challenge for brands will be to appeal to a more diverse internet audience, not a mostly homogenous one as it stands right now. This means that brands must understand the social and cultural nuances of South African society, which is still very much segregated between the have’s (i.e. people with access who are vastly, mostly white) and the have-nots (i.e. people with little or no access who are predominantly black). The divide in access to technology and the internet is brought on by the major economic wealth gap in South Africa. The London mayor, Boris Johnson, who is attending the 2010 World Cup, offers an enlightening glimpse of this disparity. As there are differences, there too are some commonalities between the have’s and have-nots (e.g. love of soccer—er, football); and it is important for brands to become aware of what those commonalities are. I found this blog post of South Africans and their bicycles to illustrate both the differences and commonalities of the country’s citizens.
The World Cup has provided an opportunity to observe how big, international brands are choosing to make their social media presence felt in the South African market by targeting World Cup fans. I found several videos that garnered millions of views on the web. In a way, they all sort of offer their take on South Africa. Here are five World Cup advertising videos from big brands that are making a splash and getting ahead of the game.