Conventional wisdom dictates that marketing communication messages need to be transmitted through traditional mass media and social media. While not disputing the efficacies of these marketing channels, there is a need to explore some alternatives. This need for alternative channels becomes more acute given the large volume of advertising messages that the average consumer is exposed to on a daily basis.
This phenomenon, known as marketing clutter, leads to selective retention on the part of the consumers. Apart from the effects of advertising clutter, some customers have developed the habits of skipping adverts during commercial breaks and blocking adverts on webpages. The ramification for this is obvious. Brands might fail to meet their advertising goals, such as increasing sales, building brand awareness and growing market share.
This calls for a media-neutral approach to reaching the target market, enhancing customer relationships and meeting other marketing communication objectives. Building a brand marketing strategy with touchpoints or customer contact points could help achieve marketing goals without going through conventional advertising. Today, strategic touchppoints in the city of Lagos are the various outdoor workout locations where people of varying ages and professional backgrounds go to carry out physical exercise every morning or every weekend, depending on the locations and preferences of individuals.
Lifestyle changes and fitness goals have become major priorities for the middle class and working class communities in Lagos. Rather than go to the gym, some people decide to make it more fun by organising physical exercise sessions on Saturday mornings or sometimes daily with groups of friends. Within a short time, other people in the community join these groups as the ranks of fitness buffs increase.
A touchpoint can be a person, place, thing, or event that facilitates contact between a brand and its customers. Physical exercise locations can become valuable customer touchpoints for various brands. If the essence of consumer engagement is to establish contact with the consumer, the communication space rather than the medium used should be the point of focus.
As a resident in Isolo, specifically in Ire Akari Estate, I can state unequivocally that there are potential brand communication opportunities that abound in the area given the workout zones that can be leveraged as brands’ points of customer contact. The Apata exercise hub, which this writer is a member of, comprises of residents across Ibe Road, Ago Palace Way, Okota Road, Godwin Omonua Street, Ire Akari Estate Road and all the adjoining streets in Ire Akari Estate and the Okota environs.
A relevant market information for brand owners is that there is a large number of people who come out every weekend, particularly on Saturdays, for the purpose of maintaining physical fitness. The demographics of participants are men and women between 15 and 65 years of age. Within these demographics are students, entrepreneurs, business owners, public servants, traders, mothers, nurses, etc. Information on demographics is essential for marketing and consumer target planning. The demographics at the Apata workout zone present touchpoint opportunities for brand owners.
Tapping into the opportunities
Some of the communication opportunities for brand owners at the Apata workout zone include the following:
Product launches: As a veteran in marketing communications, I am convinced that these workout zones can be used for product launches. Brands that can tap into this large pool of about 500 runners include, but are not limited to, the following categories: beverage manufacturers, financial services providers, smart wearable devices, sporting wears, and mobile devices. And the large number of retail supermarkets and shops in the area can be potential patrons to these brands.
Direct marketing: The runners at the Apata exercise hub constitute a captive audience that could also generate word-of-mouth advertising for brands. In these days of budget-cutting by clients, alternative brand communication channels such as customer contact points become quite important mediums for not only meeting advertising goals, but also sales of products and services.
But apart from the merchandising opportunities available at the touchpoints, companies can also give out branded materials as gift items to runners. As a way to enhance costumer engagement, brands can utilise inflatables as part of the workout paraphernalia.
Sponsorships: Traditionally speaking, sponsorship is usually a below the line (BTL) communications strategy. However, brand owners who would like to tap communication opportunities at touchpoints can support programmes that directly affect— in this case – the physical fitness routines of the runners. This communications strategy will promote enhanced brand awareness and customer engagement. A classic example of this strategy is Access Bank’s sponsorship of the annual Lagos City Marathon.
The routes used by runners can also feature branded road markings of sponsors of particular workout zones. Of course, this cannot be done without the permission of the relevant signage authorities in Lagos State. The road markings will be a touchpoint for the runners as well as other road users before and after a race.
Sampling and market testing: Products or brands with market ambitions usually conduct samplings or test marketing with their target markets. This helps in obtaining key information for competitiveness. Although the workout zones are not strictly communications spaces, they could still provide a platform for products and brand owners to glean relevant information to sharpen their competitive edges.
A typical workout session starts about 5.00am and gradually winds down from 8.00am to enable the participants to proceed to their other daily activities. The objective of this article is to draw the attention of brand owners to an entirely unconventional marketing communications space, which is considered a viable alternative to traditional media advertising. Already, there is increasing hive of commercial and entertainment activities at the Apata exercise centre. Apart from music that is provided by a disc jokey, water vendors are usually available to sell sachet and bottled water to thirsty runners. Indeed, this is an ideal environment for brand owners to overcome the challenges of advertising clutter, and connect with the community of physical exercise enthusiasts in Isolo.
Akachi Ngwu is the Founder/CEO of Consumer Scores International Limited, a Lagos-based in–store advertising solutions provider. He is an alumnus of the Business Leadership Programme of Leap Africa. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org