What it takes to stay on top

The winners of the Ask Africa ICON Brand Survey were announced recently. All Gold Tomato Sauce took top spot for the second year running. I spoke to the winner…

Edna Maphita, Category Marketing Manager: Condiments & Spreads, which includes All Gold, Crosse & Blackwell, Colmans, Mrs Balls, Black Cat, at Tiger Brands says the brand team was delighted, honoured, and humbled to be announced as the overall Ask Africa ICON brand winner for the second year in a row. “In 2011 All Gold lost its No.1 position. Since then we have since worked hard firstly regain and then maintain top spot again. Attaining this position again this year is testimony to this.”

The brand sustained its top spot because it has been doing things differently she says. “All South Africans use All Gold and the product appeals to all LSM groups across the board. However, while this is a good space to be in, we must be careful that people do not forget about us.”

She adds that the brand is also 106 years old it – was first produced in 1908 – and it’s important that it remains relevant to consumers and so the brand team has to do things differently.

The golden thread…

The team found that the golden thread for All Gold was that its consumers are proudly South African. So it launched a new commercial for the brand that spoke to the emotions of South Africans and then focused on creating brand experiences.

“The brand experience was determined by the lifestyles of families in the various regions of the country. This allowed us to focus on key nuances in the regions providing each region with its own unique experience.”

Each to their own

In Gauteng, it was braai-ing, and in the Western Cape the sponsorship of touch rugby in communities, as well as the Mitchell’s Plain Festival that was attended by 10,000 to 12,000 people. “The experience was in line with the lifestyle of the region and then we brought in the brand, not the other way around,” she says.

(Image extracted from the All Gold website)

(Image extracted from the All Gold website)

Her marketers must keep in mind that today’s consumers have many choices and can choose to engage with a brand… or not. “Therefore you must know your consumer. To unpack your consumer you have to do research, research and more research. The core of what we do daily is to have insight into our consumers, from focus groups to in-store.”

Maria Petousis, director of TGI at Ask Afrika explains that a few years ago the company decided to create a benchmark for what it takes to create an iconic brand. “We wanted this brand to be real so we based our research on actual consumption across the broad South African demographic landscape.”

Track your brand

It is important that brands are tracked across the various socio-economic levels in the country to ensure brands relevant to the whole country are celebrated says Paida Mugudubi, Commercial Director for Consumer Markets at Ask Afrika. “It may sound like a tall order for a brand to be relevant across the wide socio-economic spectrum of the country, but there is actually much that unifies us and brands are able to occupy these relevant spaces.”

These brands, she explains, are successful largely because they have critical mass. “Their product, as well as different varieties of their product, appeals to a wide number of consumers across different price points and usage/consumption occasions.”

However, critical mass alone or low pricing is not enough. Being the cheapest does not make you the most popular. “You have to make the connection with the consumer,” says Mugudubi.

Petousis explains that underlying this is the understanding of the consumer by the brand. “It is very dangerous to stereotype the consumer; rather understand who they are and know their nuances. Campaigns that do not understand consumers will lead to an unintentional disconnect between the brand and consumer.”

Trusting less, expecting more

Consumers are trusting less and expecting much more from brands. “As South Africans we are grappling with real issues such as high unemployment. Consumers are looking to brands to fill the gap in their lives. They want brands to brighten and lighten our lives, but also deliver value,” she explains.

The winners of the Ask Africa ICON Brand Survey had strategies and campaigns that showed they knew who their consumers were. “Each province, and even region, had initiatives matched to the consumers there. Not only were the initiatives correctly matched to the consumers, but the media type most suitable to those particular consumers that would yield the best results, were also selected,” says Petousis. For example in some areas, Out of Home (OOH) and radio were used. It was dependent on the target market.”

Petousis says All Gold Tomato Sauce did these things exceptionally well. “All Gold engages, plays, excites and services its markets.”

Well-known local brands, Koo Baked Beans and Huletts Sugar were second and third respectively.