In this chat, the Publisher, Marketing Edge and convener of the forthcoming National Marketing Summit and Awards, Mr. John Ajayi, talks about the intentions of the marketing publication for this year’s marketing summit and other sundry issues. Excerpts
What exactly are the objectives of this year’s National Marketing Summit and Awards?
We intend to organise a very robust marketing summit that will ignite a fresh conversation on contemporary marketing issues that have become very latent, in terms of marketing management and the management of marketing business. As you know the theme for this year’s summit, ‘Marketing Paradigms in the Age of Digitalisation’ is one that is so dear to our hearts, and which we believe is fundamentally germane to current market challenges and all the tasks that presently confront marketing executives or CEOs. Interestingly, we already have a line-up of highly cerebral industry intellectuals and industry gurus that will provide the right compass in charting a very robust and highly enlightened direction for players in marketing services business.
In what way will this year’s edition be different from the previous ones?
Characteristic of us at Marketing Edge, this year’s event has been planned in such a way that it is markedly different from the previous ones that we’ve had. For instance, the morning session is going to be specially dedicated to igniting contemporary conversation about what really troubles marketing and advertising business in Nigeria. You will agree with me that the topic cannot be timelier than now when consumers are battling with low purchasing power and, of course, brand owners are currently facing very stiff opposition in terms of product patronage as a result of low consumer purchasing powers. Warehouses in most companies are full to the brim; if you go to the supermarkets, you will see that the products are there, well stocked, but the consumers are not coming. There is buyer apathy. There is a resistance and, of course, there must be a way out of this marketing logjam. The consumers are at a crossroads because yes, they have demands, they have needs, but the ability to achieve those needs remains a challenge. So we will be looking at the changes that are at the root of this kind of unpalatable marketing disequilibrium in the real market out there, especially, at this point in time when the world is already in the digital age. You can see some brand owners: they have gone beyond the conventional media in selling their products. They have gone beyond the age of traditional media. They have gone into the age of social media where innovativeness and aggression have been brought into pushing brand messages to ensure the right connection; to ensure a nexus between the products and the consumers.
So, the forum is going to provide the platform for the rubbing of minds; it is going to provide a platform for possible solutions that can enable the brand owners to have a meeting point with the consumers so that business can be more mutually rewarding both to the brand owners and to the consumers.
For the first time in six years, you are having the Awards on the Lagos Mainland, what informed the change?
Actually, the maiden edition of the award was held on the Mainland, Lagos Sheraton Ikeja, to be precise. But we believe the event has grown into a brand over the years. It has attained its own brand equity height which made us to take it to Lagos Island to high premium centres. But the truth is that about 70 to 80 per cent of industry players and businesses reside on the Mainland. We reasoned within ourselves that if we are organising this event for the industry, why don’t we domicile it, once in a while within the easy reach of the major players? It is because of the motivation to make sure that we take the event closer to the brand owners and major industry stakeholders that informed the relocation to the Mainland, though this does not foreclose the idea of having it on the Island in future.
What is the ideology behind the marketing summit and awards?
Right from when we started the MarketinThe National Marketing Summit, like I said, is aimed at bringing together all players in the Integrated Marketing Communications for contemporary conversation at regular intervals on contemporary challenges that they may be facing in whatever form. And, as for the Brand & Advertising Awards of Excellence, we initiated this as an extension of the publication initiative. It is like a brand extension in celebrating the brands, identifying the players, who are the brains behind the brands, which brands are market makers. And of course, we said that it is not enough to just write stories about brands, let us appreciate the brands that are performing, let us also appreciate and celebrate the brains. It is an entire gamut because we are looking at the totality of what is involved in the business of brand management and the management of brand business. We set up this award initiative to reward, to celebrate, to appreciate excellence in the management of brand business and the business of brand management; that is very fundamental.
Could you shed more light on the theme, ‘Marketing Paradigms in the Age of Digitalisation’?
We believe ‘Marketing Paradigms in the Age of Digitalisation’ is a topic that deserves a special attention and focus. It is timely, contemporarily debatable and highly conversational. In those days, we used to have a sellers’ market; a sellers’ market used to be where the product owner comes to the market with any kind of goods whether good or bad; good quality or low quality, and they offered them to the consumers who, of course, had very few choices. The choices available to consumers in the age of sellers’ market were few and far between. But as we progress, the market, as you know, is now very dynamic. As society evolves, we have graduated to the buyers’ market, an age you have a plethora of products, brands that are there calling for consumers’ attention and patronage. Name any market segment; be it toothpaste, seasoning, beer, is it lager or stout, the consumers have choices; they have a thousand and one choices. So, the owners of the brands cannot just impose any product on the consumer.
There is now a challenge for brand owners to get the right consumer attention to their brands. It has become the age of competition, the age of real business, the age of real marketing. To achieve results, having exercised, having practicalised, having managed and experimented with different marketing approaches, marketing strategies, deploying the different elements in the mix, competition continues to grow in a very geometric way in the marketplace. As competition grows, there comes with it a lot of dynamics; it is these dynamics that is impacting and affecting the achievement of marketing objectives of most marketing and corporate communications. The need has actually arisen for the marketing companies, client companies to up their games in different endeavors and, of course, these changes are happening simultaneously about the time that getting the consumer out there is becoming more and more difficult. You need to know where to track them; you need to know their lifestyles, you need to know what determines their choices, their tastes, and even the kind of music they listen to.
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