At a time where organisations are exploring new ways to create sustainable businesses, marketing will be key to surf the post-Covid crisis. Following the pandemic, consumers’ buying habits have changed and screen time has incredibly increased. How digital marketing is shaping the business world in Mauritius? How businesses are reacting to this new normal? We’ve asked Jason Bholanauth, Senior Digital Marketer at PwC Mauritius and the Founder of Digital Marketing Mauritius, the trends regarding this critical issue for Mauritian Businesses as we’re entering 2021.
What are the main trends in marketing today?
Video consumption is also on the rise and will continue. This is backed by a decreasing need for sophisticated equipment to create good videos.
Marketing is a field that evolves very rapidly based on several socio-economic factors. For example, we are seeing an increase in e-commerce following confinement. In the coming years, I foresee content consumption becoming more interactive with an increase in immersive digital media such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality, amongst others.
Beyond COVID-19, consumers are looking for more “fast-food” content. By that I mean, content that can be consumed very quickly. Major channels such as Tik Tok, Instagram Reels, and Snapchat have taken advantage of this trend. Video consumption is also on the rise and will continue. This is backed by a decreasing need for sophisticated equipment to create good videos.
How do you compare digital marketing to ‘offline’ marketing today?
I would define digital marketing as doing marketing in a digital landscape and I would urge digital marketers to have a good marketing background. By the usual definition, digital marketing is a combination of online channels and tools to create awareness of your product, acquire and nurture leads, with the aim to increase sales. It usually includes social media, search engine marketing, email marketing, and a lot more niches; all working together to generate revenue. On the other hand, offline marketing is also defined as traditional marketing and frequently includes the printed press, radio, or billboards. These channels require more time and are sometimes very expensive.Both digital marketing and offline marketing should work together to create a seamless experience for the end customers.
What are the pros & cons of digital marketing compared to ‘offline’ marketing?
Digital marketing main advantages are its implementation price and the ability it provides to measure campaigns’ performances.
- Cheap implementation: Most channels are relatively cheap to implement and use. For instance, using Facebook is free. However, if a marketer wants to target specific audiences, a minimum budget is required. When it comes to offline marketing, implementation often includes production costs such as printing.
- Targeting: Compared to offline, using digital marketing, a brand can target specific audiences at a particular point of time in a location. This kind of targeting and segmentation eventually helps the brand to be efficient and hence convert more leads to actual customers.
- Personalisation: Digital marketing also allows a certain degree of personalisation through segmentation. This is mostly used in email marketing and retargeting campaigns. However, unlike offline marketing, face-to-face interaction is less.
- Lifetime of content: A printed magazine lifetime of a desk is longer compared to digital media. The attention span is less online and this results in a constant need to create content.
What is (or should be) the place of digital marketing in a company’s overall marketing strategy, according to you? How Mauritian companies are performing regarding this point?
I always believed that digital marketing should be at the table of strategic marketing conversations for a firm. The main reason being that end customers are going more online to find information or purchase products. With this shift in buying behavior, brands can benefit from data and analytics to make informed decisions and be more efficient in their marketing function. Digital marketing should be a fully integrated part of the business models; supporting both internal teams and bridging customers to the brands.
In Mauritius, there are some instances where digital marketing is only considered as a way to do brand awareness and is isolated from the other departments. This creates a disconnect between what’s happening within the organisation and the customers. Ultimately, if there is a disconnect, there are opportunities lost.
What is the relevance of digital marketing in today’s world (Covid-19 and media consumption trends)?
Today, more than ever, brands need to be present online. COVID-19 accelerated digital adoption and urged brands to review their business models. For example, e-commerce in Mauritius is on the rise. This is supported by three main drivers: the ease to set up an online store, several payment models, and a change in customers’ buying habits.
Another side effect of COVID-19 is the increase in screen time during confinement. This eventually led to more customers buying online, streaming videos, spending time on social media, among others. According to the State of Digital Marketing 2020-21 report, marketers are planning to focus on specific digital marketing channels in post-COVID-19 times to respond to new customer behaviour.
Could digital marketing be especially useful to Mauritian companies in the tourism sector today?
The answer is YES. Digital marketing is one of the most important tools for tourism players in today’s world. If you don’t have a strong online presence, it is most likely that you will struggle to attract tourists. A big component of digital marketing for the tourism industry is the online booking systems and customer relationship management (CRM), which help hotels to create personalised and memorable experiences for their customers.
Digital marketing is one of the most important tools for tourism players in today’s world.
Right now most hotels are focusing on attracting a local audience using digital marketing. There are more events being organised or hosted by hotels to help them remain sustainable in time of crisis. With borders slowly opening up, I believe that tourism sector players should use digital marketing to target COVID-safe countries and use local policies such as the recent Premium Visa as key messages in digital campaigns. Mauritius being a COVID-safe destination is also an advantage for the country to attract tourists.
How could Mauritian companies leverage on digital marketing to counter the effects of the Covid crisis?
The economic impact of COVID-19 on the country is undeniable. We’ve seen a slowdown in production, businesses closing down while others thriving, and unemployment on the rise. These macroeconomic factors have an immediate impact on customers and influence the way they purchase. The economic crisis also showed how customers’ disposable income fluctuates resulting in liquidity constraints. Digital marketing also suffered from the associated economic downturn of the pandemic. According to the survey, State of Digital Marketing 2020-21 for Mauritius, sales (72%) and revenue (69%) were the areas most impacted by COVID-19.
COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation of businesses as well as encouraged a shift towards digital marketing.
While recovery is in progress, most organisations are finding ways to create sustainable businesses which are aligned to new customer behaviours. Digital is undeniably an important element of the equation. In fact, COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation of businesses as well as encouraged a shift towards digital marketing.
The main challenge, however, is to respond to new customer behaviours. With increase in screen time during confinement, the buying power shifted back to the customers. They were able to spend more time comparing products. Hence, loyalty might be the new oil for businesses.
According to the State of Digital Marketing 2020-21 report, top marketing professionals are planning to invest more in client retention and digitisation of operations. This indicates a clear decision to optimise businesses by adopting cost effective strategies.
I believe there are 4 main action points businesses can do to remain afloat in an already highly competitive landscape:
- Digitisation of operations: The confinement showed us that organisations with tech-savvy employees were faster to adapt to working from home. This is also important to ensure customers are serviced rapidly, enjoy a seamless experience both online and offline, as well as increase efficiency.
- Optimise customer experience: While activities shifted online, it is also important to build trust when uncertainty is at its peak. Marketers should humanize online interactions with brands by using data to create personalised experiences. This should also be extended to offline service experience (SX), using data to do profiling and hence influence/adapt sales pitches.
- Upskill employees: Businesses will need to align employee experience (EX) to customer experience (CX). New skills and mindset will enable product innovation.
- Branding: Businesses should firstly re-assess their communication strategies. It is surely not the time to go absent as customers are craving for support and vision. It is crucial to demonstrate value, given trust and confidence are going down. Even though we can expect cost containment, businesses will have to find innovative ways to send their message out and to include the customer throughout their strategy.
What is your preferred type of digital marketing? (Content marketing, Inbound/Outbound, DIsplay, Search, Email marketing, Social Media marketing, influencers, etc.) And why? How does it perform compared to other types of digital marketing?
I have a preference for content marketing as a whole. This niche allows you to have a broad understanding of customers and the business model. It goes beyond just writing a blog post or creating a document.
a content marketer tries to create the best content to respond to the needs, emotion, status and mindset of a lead or customer at different steps within the buying journey.
In fact, a content marketer tries to create the best content to respond to the needs, emotion, status and mindset of a lead or customer at different steps within the buying journey. The aim being to generate sales, increase brand awareness, and entertain a brand’s audience.
Social media, ads display, email, and influencers are only channels which are highly dependent on content strategy and collaterals.
With regards to content marketing, what are the main trends in 2020 and 2021?
As I mentioned earlier, I believe in 2021, there will be more immersive content using the five senses of the customers. This will help brands create memorable content experiences driving retention and acquisition. Among the top trends I foresee:
- More personalisation in content to create strong privileged relationships between brands and customers;
- An increase in video as part of content strategies;
- An equal effort in content both internal and external to support a unique brand message and positioning;
- Search engine optimization will be key given the recent rise in website creation;
- Instagram and Tik Tok will maintain their rapid progression locally. LinkedIn account creation is set to increase amidst a rise in unemployment while Facebook will stabilise.
- Podcasts will be on the rise as well.
What are the preferred formats (text, video, podcast, etc.) of marketers? What are the consumption trends regarding these?
The choice of a content format depends on the audience. Digital marketers will generally choose the ones which are most used by their target audience. In Mauritius, text and videos are used by most brands. However, this year, podcasts are on the rise. Channels help to strengthen the brand positioning and distribute the same message across.
What are the major factors that will affect the trends in marketing in 2021?
Marketing in 2021 will be different; mostly due to the “recovery period” of some industries and economic status of the country. With businesses starting to operate again, backed by a glimpse of a vaccine to COVID-19 increasing confidence, consumption will peak. However, with unemployment, disturbances in wage assistance, businesses financial stability, and more, customers may adopt spending-controls where they will focus on essentials.
Other factors that will influence marketing is the democratisation and access to the internet which serve as a backbone to major digital media consumption. As such, we may see an increase in digital marketing campaigns given recent internet consumption is on the rise as well as digital adoption. Acquisition and retention, digitisation of operations, and upskilling of employees are prerequisites to sustain businesses during the recovery journey.
About Jason Bholanauth
Jason Bholanauth is a Senior Digital Marketer at PwC Mauritius and the Founder of Digital Marketing Mauritius, the biggest network of digital professionals in Mauritius. With over 8 years experience in digital marketing, he is passionate about “doing the marketing of marketing”. Jason’s expertise ranges from content marketing to search engine optimisation (SEO) and data analysis. He often speaks at conferences, seminars and workshops.