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South Africa’s mass market and the growing black middle class offer numerous opportunities for marketers. Building meaningful connections through insights is an important part of being able to cater to the needs of this segment of consumers – and connections are key to building loyalty, agree Monkey Concepts Advertising founders Thato Tshabalala and Thando Makhathini, regardless of colour or which economic bracket consumers fall into. Township-born Monkey Concepts Advertising has recently partnered with Joe Public as part of its youth development programme.

“The SA market is changing rapidly, as consumers shift into new economic brackets. The trick lies in brands understanding their target markets and applying their insights to create tailored messages for their market,” Makhathini explains.

The black consumer segment today is made up of a number of categories, says Tshabalala. Brands therefore need to create campaigns and stories that connect with more than one of these sub-categories – brands that adopt a one-size-fits-all approach will find themselves losing ground and market share.

In order to differentiate themselves in a cluttered and competitive market, brands need to attract consumers’ attention by establishing a relationship with them. Wooing the consumer can be achieved only when marketers have a good understanding of a specific market’s behaviour, mind-set, aspirations and unique language and slang. A young man from Soweto, for instance, will have vastly different needs and wants to one from Khayelitsha.

A core part of facilitating the necessary in-depth knowledge and understanding of subcultures and categories within LSMs will only come from opening doors for young talent and developing that talent pipeline within the industry. “Agencies need to open their doors to talent who have an understanding of the variety of target markets and who can assist in driving creative and relevant content that can speak to and connect with the brand’s target audience,” says Tshabalala.

Possessing a strong understanding of how to connect brands and the mass market through engaging communication remains a major challenge for many SA agencies – making enterprise development programmes vital to the development of young black talent in interpreting and applying consumer insights.

“Developing and investing in creative and strategic teams who eat, sleep and breathe the mass market becomes the only truly effective way to achieve a meaningful relationship between brands and consumers,” says Makhathini.

The big take-out: SA’s mass market offers widespread opportunities to brands – but only if brands can create relevant content that connects with consumers as a result of in-depth knowledge of a specific market’s behaviour, mind-set, aspirations and unique language and slang.