Morné van Emmenes, newly appointed marketing manager for Kimberly-Clark’s Baby & Child Care category. Picture SUPPLIED
Morné van Emmenes, newly appointed marketing manager for Kimberly-Clark’s Baby & Child Care category. Picture SUPPLIED

In SA’s economic environment of consumers being strapped for cash and brands doing their best to retain their customers and make sales, it’s harder to think creatively. Yet it’s also more essential than ever; in fact, it is in these times that creative thinkers find the greatest opportunities for their brands.

This is the view of Morné van Emmenes, newly appointed marketing manager for Kimberly-Clark’s Baby & Child Care category, which is responsible for Huggies. Van Emmenes says digital marketing is finally creeping into everyday conversations and marketers are starting to realise that it offers a larger reach and greater engagement than more traditional means.

“There’s widespread awakening across all sectors of what digital can do for a brand. It’s taken some time, but there are now a host of companies in SA creating digital conversations that forge relationships with their consumers,” he says.

Moreover, he adds, as technology becomes smarter so do the people who use it. “Personalisation is the buzzword at the moment. Consumers make choices about which brands to engage with, and that choice is often based on the value a brand can add to people’s personal lives. Authenticity is crucial when brands wish to use platforms such as Instagram or brand ambassadors to represent their brands – if it’s not authentic, it does more harm than good,” he says.

The big take-out

In the current business climate it’s important to resist the temptation to make bad short-term decisions that will have negative long-term consequences.

Trend-wise, Van Emmenes believes SA is in an interesting place. E-commerce, for example, is starting to gain traction among SA consumers, who have lagged behind their global counterparts in the past. Mobile solutions are doing particularly well, he says, as most South Africans now have access to smartphones.

Though he does not see the constrained economy as all doom and gloom, Van Emmenes admits that the cash-strapped state of consumers, together with import duties and the inflated price of raw materials, are putting pressure on brands at both ends of the spectrum.

“It’s at times like this that the temptation to panic creeps in and bad decisions are made,” he says. Consistency in this environment is the key for survival, together with ensuring that a brand’s promise is not compromised, he says. Short-term decisions that will have negative long-term consequences should be avoided, he advises, adding that actions such as reducing costs that affect the quality of products will ultimately cause irreparable damage to the brand and the consumer experience.