It's Pixel Perfect

Good things come to those who don’t wait


By Alex Taylor

Understanding the gap between reactive and proactive marketing in the Caribbean 

“Patience is a virtue” 

Not in 21st century marketing.  A brand takes first place when it thoroughly understands its customer base and makes an informed decision long before the market has decided itself. Good things come to brands who are proactive and meet the consumer where they are.

Bad things come to brands who wait for the consumer to make up their own mind.

The Caribbean marketing blueprint often aligns itself with the culture of the people who make up the consumer market in their geographical map. And there’s nothing wrong with approaching the market in that way, in fact, it’s what brands ought to do when deciding what and how to sell to a consumer. But there’s a way to do it. The perspective many Caribbean brands take towards marketing is controlled by a corporate agenda and narrowed down to focus on sales.

The idea to market based on a cultural paradigm is the very speed bump that is holding back Caribbean brands from making an impression in the minds of people. Yes, we love music and dancing, but does that mean every insurance advertisement must include a dance routine?

The consumer who may buy your product could be the one who doesn’t necessarily like music attached to a product. Brands on this side of the hemisphere often make that mistake due to the underinvestment into data that would otherwise guide their actions.

Caribbean brands fail to understand the link between the consumer and the relevance of an idea or a feeling. People buy feelings, experiences and ideas – notproducts. A marketing manager who wants to solve a problem will often begin the discussion without proper data to justify how they arrived at a solution in the first place. Furthermore, the problem may not even be the actual problem, and end up spending millions on a campaign that misses the target completely.

Case in point: 

CEO of a coffee company, Coffee Co, will tell her marketing manager that sales have dropped significantly and she has three months to figure out a solution to the problem. However, there is no data to explain why sales have dropped and no one has attempted to explain why sales have dropped.

The marketing manager creates a strategy that is centered around making the product fun and exciting. Somehow, this correlation will equivocate to more sales without any feasible, data driven explanation.  The marketing manager takes that information to the advertising agency and asks for a content strategy to be built around making that particular coffee product fun and engaging.  A $1.5 million budget is allocated on design, video, billboards, flyers, ads on social, photoshoots and macro influencers to push the product.

At the end of the quarter sales move from 9.3% to 9.4% as a result of the campaign. However, if data was involved, the marketing manager would know from a competitive analysis that awareness of the product was not the problem.

Their competitor, SmartCoffee Co, just made major investments into e-commerce which allows the consumer to purchase a cup of coffee from home and pick it up when they enter the store.  They sold the idea to their customers by understanding their consumer behaviour. The data they collected informed them that their consumers are carrying less cash, and buying more products online.  This is called proactive marketing.

This is the very dilemma that plagues Caribbean brands today.  The value of data in marketing is under-appreciated and underplayed by many companies simply because it is misunderstood and grossly difficult to ascertain. Now brands often react to the market instead of control it.

Data allows a brand to be 10 steps ahead of the market. With data, one can solves tomorrow’s problem today. Information on consumer behaviour will help a brand understand the individual customer as a human being and not an aggregate.

Caribbean brands must take it up upon themselves to develop a culture of data collection and invest in data science if they want to survive in a data driven world.  Today’s marketing must be informed by numbers and patterns to equip a manager in a board meeting with the right information to convince a CEO that Xis a problem, and Y is how we fix it.  Brands who play the guess game in marketing will struggle to stay relevant in the space and will be left behind.


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