Image: TM Events

When it comes to planning and bringing to life in-store and out-of-home brand activations, particularly for FMCG brands, consumer insights are the main determinant of success.

“Insight serves as the foundation of any activation. Without a keen understanding, the activation will fall flat,” said Julian Remba, GM of Castle Milk Stout at SABMiller, at the first annual FMCG Insights and Conference at Turbine Hall in Newtown this week. Remba was joined in a panel discussion by Antony Stearns, national head of shopper marketing strategy at Geometry, and Kabelo Ncholo, founder and MD of Yourself Management.

The only truly effective way to gain useful insights, said Stearns, is to spend time listening to consumers in order to find common connections. It’s worth it because activations convert potential customers into buyers.

Carling Black Label is an example of a brand that has built an activation platform with its “Be the Coach” campaign, which has run successfully for a number of years and continues to grow exponentially.

Brands need to have a working knowledge of their consumers’ passion points, whether they be music or football, suggested Remba. These are used to build lasting connections. Marketers and brand managers need to remember the 4Cs in their activations: consistent, compelling, coherent and cut-through.

Developing a well-run activation platform is the result of an in-depth understanding of the brand’s target market, and in South Africa, the panel agreed, that can be a challenging task. “The South African mass market is made up of over 10m households that live on a monthly income of less than R6,000, so it’s critical for brands to understand the context of the market they are communicating and engaging with,” said Ncholo. “Brands need to be flexible in order to customise their messaging to more readily appeal to their target market.”

The big take-out: Brand activations rely on insights – and only through constant engagement with consumers is it possible to understand their passion points and forge meaningful connections.