Marketing – American Lifestyle
To compete for market share, companies will often pay producers big bucks to include their products in their upcoming features. One familiar product is cars familiar in movies such as; Transporter, Fast and Furious, Transformers and alike. Other brands include, Rolex, Apple, Blackberry…
However there are other brands that sneak up on us that do not fit in the luxury or recognisable brands but nonetheless provide the same marketing impact one such product is food.
The American Big Mac, fried chicken and alike all commonly known as “fast food” have become ingrained in American cinema as a representation of the snacking and eating lifestyle. Through the success of Hollywood we have essentially been gradually incited into a different lifestyle. We might not see it on our street corners but we aspire to live it even for a day, we dream it, and when we get an opportunity we buy into it. The big question then is how emerging markets with poor access to the internet, financial and remote access to western products have been easily incited to buy into these brands.
Without much effort from the big corporations to invest in advertising at a massive scale on the continent big American food chains have been able to infiltrate the African economy effortlessly.
Hollywood – Marketing to Emerging Markets
To a large extent Hollywood has over the decades knowingly and unknowingly been doing all the groundwork. Unlike the commercials which would require one to have a TV set and pay massive sums for a few seconds, pirated movies and makeshift cinemas located all over the country have been effective in reaching vast parts of the population thus making it an effective marketing strategy. In the developing world the concept of fast food is up to this day a luxury for a select class that can aspire to buy into the trend. I call it a trend because like an iPhone, fast food as most of the world knows it is a trendy item, the expensive pricing of KFC in Uganda essentially makes it a product for the more well-heeled of society.
The lunch time norm for majority of the population is the affordable indigenous food items that are slowly cooked all morning and served in reasonable quantity. It is thus a wonder that anyone would spend a significant sum of money for a medium sized processed burger and frozen fries. The power of branding and the impact Hollywood has had on our perception of American life styles has effectively provided a platform for large corporations to infiltrate emerging markets without spending massive sums and amounts on advertising or let alone convince the potential new consumers on the quality of their brand. This is why KFC was able to effectively launch a new store in Kampala, Uganda with their unhealthy old menu that they have discontinued in America.
The irony of it all is that the lifestyle that emerging markets are now buying into is a dated unhealthy lifestyle that is being challenged by the society we perceptive it represents.
There is a massive campaign for healthier fast food options and a move to freshly prepared homemade lunches, fast food has therefore had to adopt to this new health craze and has turned into a convenience food not a lunchtime staple.
What Hollywood can teach SME in emerging Markets
So what are we missing here, is the lack of branding of the local food chains going to essentially eliminate them from the market and reduce their market share? Well at the moment the buying market in Kampala is not large enough to create a massive push towards fast food franchises from outside, but it is definitely a threat to those African Brands in the high end of the market such as Nandos, Steers, and Javas. However the middle and lower end of the market should not become complacent assured of a massively economically strained consumer base that will flood their joints to consume the more affordable local cuisine from Chicken Tonight, Bon Apetit, Tipsy, TV chicken stands, Rolex stands, and the various lunch time buffets. To get into the big leagues and establish their market base those at the bottom end of the market need to go on a massive but clever branding strategy.
There is a lot that we can learn from the Hollywood strategy and it has been proven to work even in emerging movie and music industries such as Nollywood which effectively gained blackberry significant market share by presenting it as the phone of choice for the rich, this movie feature called “Blackberry Babes”.
At present blackberry even after losing market share this last financial year is still a booming product in Nigeria and has managed to hold on well in emerging markets.
The Power of Branding
For the national brands at the the lower end of the market to grow and retain their market share they need to adopt an aspirational marketing strategy, sell a lifestyle, sell a brand not just food. This is vital in ensuring they retain the loyalty of their consumers by showing a desire to provide an affordable aspirational brand. The only company that has attempted to do this is “Bon Apetit,” but their strategy is just but a drop of water, they need to open up the sprinklers and they can only do this by engaging in a lifestyle marketing strategy. On the national channels accessible to majority of the population, companies need to invest in selling their brand in the movie and music industry. We all eat at these joints on a regular basis including the celebrities that we need to sell this lifestyle. It is apparent that a lot of these companies have become extremely complacent for example Tipsy in Wandegeya has not had an upgrade since the 90s and Chicken tonight since it opened. Tipsy in the 90s with The fast food takeaway, it successfully engrained “chaps” into a fast food staple, but was unable to protect it’s reputation that it quickly saw “Chicken Tonight” move in a few minutes away and take up significant market share in its Wandegeya fast food market.
Investing in creating a franchise and expanding the market base is one of many aspects lacking, its about time local companies adopted or become alienated to the bottom end of the market forever.
I remember one time over christmas i was driving by Garden City back in the day when it used to be the only modern mall in the country actually not that far back we are talking less than a decade ago, i saw taxis bring people into the mall for one sole purpose, to ride on the escalators. I did not know where they came from but it was an aspiration for them to take an escalator. Its about time we saw a few taxis come to Kampala, Mbarara town, Mbale town, Gulu to eat at Chicken Tonight, Bon appetit…If they do not adapt they will be reduced to mere joints leaving the market to those that took heed and began to invest in expanding their brand. To build a national brand you need to sell it to the rest of the country not just Wandegeya, Ntinda and Bugolobi.Better get cracking.
Evolve or get alienated!!