With that in mind, we have focused our perspective for the year on three trends and three fundamentals that too many forget in their pursuit of trends. We hope you find them useful!
2014 is a big year for South Africa. Cape Town is the official World Design Capital for 2014 and in April we celebrate twenty years of democracy in South Africa. Our stature as a creative hub is growing and we have come a long way as a nation. Expect celebrations, reflections and a fair amount of election hysteria. Africa is booming and South African brands are expanding across the continent, and we will stop seeing ourselves as late adopters of Western trends and start feeling genuinely proud of local products, innovations and customs.
Online shopping was slow out of the blocks in South Africa, due to the poor speed and penetration of the internet. This is changing fast, as brands like Yuppiechef and Zandos have moved from cult status to mainstream and the retailers, such as Woolworths, start taking online shopping seriously. With the meteoric rise of smartphone use in South Africa, online shopping will become common, and consumers will expect to be able to buy wherever they are (and however they like - expect to see much more 'build your own package' options too).
Content marketing has been on the rise for the past few years, and marketers will finally have to accept the radical idea that they need to be what their customers are interested in, rather than trying to interrupt it. On digital and social platforms this means thinking more like a publisher or a breakfast show producer than an advertiser - creating interesting, relevant and engaging content that adds value to your customers' lives. You want to be the video on YouTube that everyone is watching, not the video that that they endure for five seconds while hovering over the 'skip ad' tab. But it's also not a 'digital trend' - content is everything that your customers choose to engage with, from music festivals to seminars.
Everyone is talking about Big Data and it certainly is going to make marketing much more precise, measurable and effective (one it becomes better understood). Behavioural analytics will prove to be hugely useful for design, messaging and media choice, but there is no substitute for deep insight into the motivations, context and desires of your customers. Numbers can't give you that.
Never in the history of the world have attention spans been as short as they are today, or marketing messages as prolific and overwhelming. Getting noticed is no easy feat, and it requires bold, raw creativity and smart thinking. Branding that plays it safe will simply get lost.
Consumers love the brands that treat them with respect, and they can spot a fake from a mile off. Don't produce a poster that says you put the consumer at the heart of everything - actually behave like you do. Listen to your customers' ideas and feedback, incorporate them in ideation, communicate openly and honestly and never, ever treat them like you know best.