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Marketing News and Reviews


Marketing and its little grey area.
Ask any two learned individuals as to what marketing really is, and two different answers will probably be given to you. This is not to say that either one of them could be wrong – not by a long shot. Marketing, as a discipline, just happens to have quite a number of definitions. Even seasoned marketing professors from different prestigious universities around the world define marketing differently. They also happen to hold different vantage points regarding certain marketing principles. This is not necessarily a good thing in that there now seems to be so much confusion out there. So much so that many entrepreneurs and business persons in South Africa don’t fully understand the concept of marketing, as well as how they can actually use it to grow their market share and ultimately increase profitability.

We once received a call from a prospective client who wanted assistance with regards to “marketing” his product. It later turned out that all he needed was merely a sales person to sell his product offering. We had to decline as we’re marketers and not sellers. Now this brings us to another premise: Marketing and sales aren’t one and the same thing. However, the two are indeed related. True, traditional marketing is about identifying consumer needs, segmenting markets, selecting a target audience, analysing competitors, positioning product/service offerings, utilising the 4 Ps (product, place, price promotion), creating or maintaining a competitive advantage etc. Sales, on the other hand, is about “selling, selling and selling”. The sales person does not necessarily have to understand the aforementioned marketing concepts – he merely needs to know and understand the product/service that he is trying to sell and have expertise in sales to be successful.

Perhaps the reason why different people define marketing differently is because marketing is not an exact science such as chemistry where, for instance, hydrogen + oxygen = water. Or mathematics where E=mc 2. Marketing is an art, and it allows marketing practitioners to combine their marketing knowledge and expertise with their intuition or that gut-feeling that we all experience occasionally. This also explains why no two establishments, despite being in the same industry and competing for the same target market, will have different marketing plans and strategies, and a different implementation process. Coke and Pepsi, for instance, have been rivals for over a century and are both generally competing for the same target market, yet their strategies and the way they go about appealing to current and prospective customers differs extensively. Marketers also know that there are no guarantees in marketing: One could develop an exceptional marketing plan and strategy but essentially fail to implement it correctly due to external factors that could have an impact on strategy. These factors include governmental, economical, technological, political and socio-cultural impediments. Therefore it is quite important for businesses to be proactive by monitoring the macro environment as it affects strategy.

South Africa is filled with entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, small businesses and medium enterprises with really good service/product offerings. However many of them struggle with regards to marketing themselves appropriately in their highly competitive markets. It’s one thing to have an outstanding product/service offering and another to actually develop proper marketing strategies that contribute towards retaining existing clients, attracting new ones and increasing bottom line.

In today’s highly competitive commercial environment entrepreneurs and small-to-medium businesses need to understand that they can no longer get away with engaging in marketing just for the sake of it, without fully understanding what it is they are truly doing. All marketing efforts need to be strategic in nature and be based on realistic objectives, research and logic: From selecting target markets to the tone of voice used when engaging your audience to deciding which publications to advertise in. Measuring ROI (Return on Investment) is not easy, especially for smaller players within an industry, but there will always be a relationship between the quality of your marketing efforts and profitability.


Why ‪#Starbucks‬ will thrive in S.A.

So Starbucks has officially, entered the South African premium coffee market. While many premium coffee drinkers are delighted at the news, there’s also been talk in certain corners that the brand will not do well in the S.A market – given that they offer premium coffee and that the local premium market isn’t as mature as that of Europe or America. Well, we’re of the view that Starbucks will thrive in S.A, despite this, and here’s why:

What many people don’t realise is that the brand has a “halo” in the minds of many South Africans – which has been created by the way in which the brand has been positioned in American TV programmes, movies and internet advertisements that we’re exposed to. Starbucks has a favourable brand image – which will result in the brand eroding competitors’ market share over time. Demographic trends suggest that many locals, generally, are quite image conscious and are inclined to buy items that they really can’t afford, in the name of improving or upholding, as it were, their social image. Image conscious consumers are inclined to spend money on items that they don’t enjoy consuming, but love that the brand puts them in line with certain perceptions. Starbucks has the financial muscle, technical capabilities, marketing expertise and international experience to thrive in S.A.

While the premium coffee market is still in the growth phase of the Product Life Cycle (PLC), it will be interesting to see how competitors such as The Seattle Coffee Company, Vida e Caffè etc respond to the introduction of Starbucks.


Your business can’t afford to ignore the ‪#ýmarketingmix‬.

The marketing mix, which is formed through the four Ps of marketing, consists of ‪#ýProduct‬, ‪#ýPlace‬, ‪#ýPrice‬ and ‪#ýPromotion‬. These four factors are part of the marketing strategy and could contribute significantly towards a business’ success or failure within a particular market. “How so?” You ask? Well, let’s break down the four elements separately.
Product: This is the primary marketing mix component and has to do with the business providing products (and services) that clients really want and need. What’s the point of selling items or providing services that are not in demand? Failure to provide clients with the right offering will almost certainly lead to competitors with superior offerings eroding your market share.
Place: Place, which some call distribution, has to do with the business being aware of the various distribution channels that are available and using the most efficient and effective to make services accessible and products available to customers. Not being up to speed with the latest distribution trends could lead to missed opportunities.
Price: Ultimately, your customers want value for money. They also use price to determine the quality of your product or service offering. Depending on the nature of the product or service that you offer, and on other factors, if your prices are perceived to be too high, clients may think that they are being “ripped off”, as it were. On the other hand, if prices are set too low, clients may perceive your offering as inferior. Price seems to be a psychological affair more than anything. Nonetheless, it’s important that you price you offerings well.
Promotion: Promotion, also called communication, has to do with communicating with current and prospective clients about your offerings’ benefits through advertising, public relations, sales people and packaging. Distributors of your offerings should also be communicated to.
For further details contact: info@buckwheatmedia.co.za

Lessons from Mxit’s demise.
Who would have thought that ‪#ýMxit‬, a South African ‪#ýsocialmedia‬ platform, would close down after only 10 years or so of having been established? Yes - Mxit has closed, and one need not be a rocket scientist to figure out some of the factors that lead to its unfortunate downfall. However, the question is “Has your ‪#ýbusiness‬ learnt from Mxit’s mistakes, from a ‪#ýmarketing‬ perspective?”
Mxit competed in a technology-oriented environment: This means that in order for the company to survive in the industry it needed to keep a close eye on competitors, their product/service offerings, industry trends and new technological advancements, amongst other elements, and respond accordingly. On the one hand, direct competitors such as ‪#ýWhatsapp‬ and Black Berry’s ‪#ýBBM‬ entered the market with superior product offerings. On the other hand, indirect competitors such as ‪#ýFacebook‬ and ‪#ýTwitter‬ were coming up with offerings that, apparently, were more appealing than that of Mxit. In hindsight and given that some of Mxit’s offerings were somewhat outdated, the company needed to come up with a new offering altogether that would’ve placed it in a better competitive position.
In closing, here’s what you can learn from Mxit’s misfortune:
1. Know at all times who your current and potential competitors are and what they are doing.
2. Respond in time to competitors’ activities.
3. Keep a close eye on the ‪#ýmacroenvironment‬ (especially technological) and other factors that could have a negative impact on business.
4. Your product/service offering must be relevant at all times.
For further details contact: info@buckwheatmedia.co.za

In the Know.
Quite often we’re asked by many, as to what it is we really do and what we actually mean when we say “we’re providers of a wide variety of ‪#ýmarketing‬, ‪#ýbranding‬ and ‪#ýcommunications‬ solutions”.
We’ll, let’s kick things off by saying that one of our objectives is to assist ‪#ýentrepreneurs‬, ‪#ýstartups‬, ‪#ýsmallbusinesses‬, ‪#ýartists‬ and ‪#ýmusicians‬ attract profitable clients and grow their chosen field of endeavour. We do this by developing integrated long-term marketing plans and strategies based on the micro and macro environment, as well as other forces. A marketing plan is quite a detailed blue-print which contains a wide variety of information about an establishment, e.g. corporate mission and objectives, strategic analysis, SWOT analysis etc. A marketing strategy, on the other hand, is actually a component of the marketing plan and goes deeper in terms of how to go about competing as a ‪#ýbusiness‬. For instance, it contains information such as the ‪#ýtargetmarket‬, the ‪#ýmarketingmix‬, ‪#ýmarketingstrategies‬ etc.
In closing, marketing’s role is to bridge the gap between an individual/business and the targeted audience. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a start-up, it is imperative that you either acquaint yourself with marketing practices or invest in a marketing consultant.
For further details contact: info@buckwheatmedia.co.za


Given #VW's long history of producing quality German vehicles for over 70 years, who would have thought that the car manufacturer would resort to fitting devices that allow emissions tests to be rigged?


#VW enthusiasts from all over the world seem quite disappointed, needless to say. Questions that many have on their mind is "In light of what has transpired, would #VW lovers still be willing to purchase their vehicles?" And "If the company has lied about its cars' emissions, what else could it have possibly lied about?" The quality and performance of it's engines, perhaps?

What will be even more interesting to see over the next couple of months is how ‪#ýcompetitors‬ such as ‪#ýToyota‬, ‪#ýHonda‬, ‪#ýFord‬ etc take advantage of the situation, to win over new clients and increase their market share.

What are your thoughts?

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In 1996 General Motors introduced an electric car called ‪#ýEV1‬ to California and Arizona, with a marketing campaign budget of about $25 million.
We're now in 2015 and electric cars, despite being pioneered over 100 years ago, seem to be struggling with regards to capturing the hearts of motorists. Or should we attribute this to manufacturers not adequately pushing, as it were, electric vehicles into the ‪#ýmarket‬? ‪#ýelectriccars‬.
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Volkswagen's SEAT car brand.
#ýSEAT‬, a predominantly Spanish car brand and a strategic business unit of ‪#ýVW‬, was introduced to the South African ‪#ýcar‬ market in June 2006. Within two years of opening shop, #VW had announced that it would stop selling #SEAT cars in South Africa, as a result of certain market conditions not being conducive to selling this particular ‪#ýbrand‬.
From a ‪#ýmarketing‬ vantage point, one question that arises is "what criterion do car manufacturers use to determine which countries to enter?", given that operating costs range in the millions for endeavours of such a nature.
On a different note, it would have been quite interesting to see what percentage of the car market the #brand would have today had it not been withdrawn. How the #brand would have evolved and accepted/rejected by the South African market would have been quite interesting to observe.
For further details contact: info@buckwheatmedia.co.za