Successful Brands: Leading, Challenging and Exploring

Coca-Cola dividing their products into three categories – leaders, challengers and explorers is a good way of defining the future of any brand. Those who are successful need to be at least one of these, preferably two, ideally all three. Here are five ways I see brands (and a continent) leading, challenging and exploring in 2019.

1) Uber-Agile

“The only way to remain in business is creating brands. The moment we stop creating brands then the e-retailers are going to rule.” Javier Meza, CMO of Sparkling at Coca-Cola

In an interview with Marketing Week  CMO of Sparkling at Coca-Cola, Javier Meza, shared how the brand remains current by aiming to be extraordinarily agile. He said in Japan, for example, the business was launching two new products a week. Each product is tracked for six weeks and then a decision is made whether to keep or cull.

There’s now a separate entity for Coca-Cola called Global Ventures who scale new products as the business diversifies away from fizzy drinks. Rodolfo Echeverria, Coca-Cola’s global vice-president of creative, says explorer brands require “a typical West Coast, California attitude” which means looking towards healthier products. In China, for example, they have recently launched a tea brand for the eighth time as well as having Coca-Cola Clear with lemon. In Japan the brand has Coke Plus Fibre, which lowers the body’s fat absorption and is targeted at over-40 year olds.

Other big players we can expect to see being uber-agile in 2019 are Samsung (who spent around US$15.3 billion on research and development in 2018), Volkswagen and Apple. But will they be swift enough to match Amazon’s meteoric innovation? Bearing in mind Amazon’s R&D spend in 2018 was a cool US$22.6 billion.

2) On-Site Robotic Personalisation

“There are new possibilities for self-assembly, replication, repair in our physical structures, our buildings, machines.” Skylar Tibbits, Founder of the Self-Assembly Lab

The Ministry of Supply in collaboration with MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab in the US are rolling out a service which introduces the next level of on-site robotic personalisation. Now robots will resize a jersey (or sweater) to fit you while you wait.

Skylar Tibbits, Founder of the Self-Assembly Lab speaks of the innovation, saying there’s something psychologically rewarding about watching a garment transform before your eyes, “You want to see that it’s actually active, that it’s alive and transforming with you and around you.” This is the future of customisable products – not just fashion – robotics sprinkling electronic fairy dust and personalising your product while you wait.

3) I’m Still Standing: Bricks and Mortar 

“We’ve found that interacting with the brand in store makes a customer more loyal.” Paul Hedrick, CEO of direct-to-consumer cowboy boot startup Tecovas

Retailers housed in bricks and mortar will still be around but not necessarily in a way we’re used to. Some of the new stores going up are to support their online sales offering, designed to complement the customer’s digital experience. Digital retailers Everlane, for instance, created technology in a bricks and mortar setting, with the checkout using online customer profiles and their saved credit card details. As VendHQ writes, “Technology will fuel – not curb – the rise of brick and mortar retail.”

We are also seeing some retailers launch stores which stay open all hours. For example, BookXcess in Malaysia has just opened its doors to the country’s biggest-ever bookstore and it will stay open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Within the shop of 3,437m² they stock half a million books. The space (more like a mall) also has individual reading areas and a cafe to entice readers to stay for longer.  We may see more stores like these in the Asia Pacific region as their middle class is predicted to rise  to 65% of the continent’s population by 2030, and physical 24/7 is a way of shopping which suits their lifestyle.

4) More Specialised: Less Spend

“2019 will be the year of conspicuous conservation.” Elizabeth Segran, FastCompany

While brands are working overtime to meet customer needs there are real benefits in store (and app!) for the person who wants to streamline their consumer spend. The recent reveal at CES 2019 of L’Oreal’s My Skin Track pH is an example of this. It’s touted as the first “wearable sensor and companion app to easily measure personal skin pH levels and create customized product regimens.” If it works as well as promised the reality will be ways of really knowing what our skin needs and less experimenting with products, therefore less wastage.

The My Skin Track opens intriguing doors to the future of beauty, health and technology, but brands need to hold on to the human touch. I recently read a list of ways the BBC World Service engages younger audiences which can be applied to what customers want. They are: update me, give me perspective, educate me, keep me on trend, amuse me and inspire me.

5) Brand Africa and the Wisdom of emerging markets

“90% of the media’s 24/7 coverage is concerned with the West, whereas 90% of the opportunity is in emerging markets.” Stephen Jennings, CEO, Renaissance Capital

According to Africa Business Communities, the World Bank estimates economic growth in the Sub-Saharan regions to be at a positive 6% average in 2019-20 and McKinsey says Africa is the world’s next “big growth market”.  CBNC Africa also reports there’s a trillion-dollar opportunity to industrialise Africa, “meeting rising domestic demand and create a bridge-head in global export markets.”

But tt’s not only in the business facts and figures that position the continent of Africa to become a powerful challenging and exploring brand – it is the people. We’ll be seeing more ideas and products being created by Africans to meet our most pressing needs. For example Nigerian college student, Segun Oyeyiola, recently upcycled a Volkswagen Beetle and turned it into a wind and solar-powered car, made up of scrap parts, for less than US$6,000, paving the way for more local innovation in this field.

With consumer spending in Africa expected to hit $25 trillion by 2025, our emerging markets are amazing opportunities for international trade and growth, but it will be our spirit of Ubuntu (a quality representing compassion and humanity) which will keep Africa creating innovative products to improve quality of life.

Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting


Written by Jainita Khatri. She is the founder of Prana Business Consulting and has 15 years of practical experience in marketing for blue chip organisations and has consulted extensively with entrepreneurial and medium sized businesses. Jainita’s passion lies in digital marketing – helping businesses to build their brands and businesses. Jainita is a speaker at conferences and guest lectures Monash University and UJ on various marketing related topics.


About Prana Business Consulting

Prana Business Consulting is a marketing partner to your business.  Using omni-channel principles, Prana builds a connection between your brand and your client. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in Marketing, Branding, CRM and Social Media. Prana leverages industry specialists to deliver customized solutions for baby, beauty, health and wellness brands, locally and internationally. Prana is a level 1 BBBEE certified company.


Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796

Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / LinkedIn


The Humanising Factor #BizTrends2019

The Humanising Factor #BizTrends2019

In 2019 marketers will be focused on how to best implement the potential wave of artificial intelligence flooding our homes, vehicles, online habits and workplace. But there are important humanising pockets of influence which brands should also take note of. Here are four consumer needs we’ll also be responding to as marketers in 2019.


1) Intellectual Snack Breaks with Podcasts

Taking intellectual snack breaks in 2019 will be a necessity to counteract the social media junk food we’re force fed at every consumer touch-point. Where will thoughtful people go when they need to take a break? Very likely somewhere that doesn’t require a screen and provides snackable content, as podcasts do.

Just the  iTunes podcast stats are impressive, it is home to over 525,000 active shows, with more than 18.5 million episodes available, with content in over 100 languages. In an online survey conducted by Nielsen of 7,000 podcast listeners between the ages of 18 to 49 – 69% said the podcast ads made them aware of new products and services.

The five most popular podcasting genres in the US are Society and Culture, Business, Comedy, News and Politics and Health. 19% of listeners increase their listening speed (listen faster) and weekly podcast listeners spend an average of 6 hours 37 minutes per week listening to podcasts. That’s a lot of listening space for brands to tap in to.  Check out the informative and thought provoking Tim Ferris Show to see (and hear) how it’s done.

2) Packaging with Care (and Collaboration)

Products making eco-friendly waves – like L’Oreal  – who has gone as far as launching a new brand called Seed Phytonutrients. The goal for these products is to be separate from L’Oreal and to create “non-synthetic, effective products that support small-scale organic farmers”.

In 2019 you’ll see the words, “craft” and “natural-origin” used more often and if the packaging of Seed products is anything to go by (compostable bottles made from post-consumer paper, combined with clay) the wave of eco-design and product with gather momentum.

Big retailers branching out into natural origin packaging creates opportunities for organic producers and community businesses. Manufacturers will be also be more accountable as to where they source their ingredients as consumers can follow the supply chain journey.

3) Planet or Plastic

In October 2018 the European Union voted overwhelmingly to ban a wide range of single-use plastics in every member state and New Zealand is the latest country to ban single-use plastic shopping bags, which were being used at an incredible 750 million bags per year – about 150 bags per person.

Closer to home Woolworths, The Shoprite Group and Pick n Pay are making inroads into more sustainable plastic bag offerings with good news from Plastics|SA who say South Africa has an input recycling rate of 43.7% above Europe’s recycling figure of 31.1%.

Woolworths’s commitment to zero packaging waste and making all packaging recyclable or reusable by 2022 is ahead of most international retailers and producers whose similar targets are being implemented by 2025. Woolworths are trial-ing a new in-store bag for R5.50 – reusable and locally-made from recycled materials. Their partner is South African small black enterprise development company, Isikwama, who employ and up-skill people from the local community.

Shoprite and Checkers have introduced ‘planet’ bags which are 100% recycled and recyclable plastic costing R3.00 each. Their strategy is to give customers using the planet bag 50c off their tab. A lot of their vegetable packaging will also be in biodegradable and compostable containers from November 2018.

Pick n Pay is introducing South Africa’s first compostable supermarket bag made of vegetable matter, including maize and potato starch. These bags break down after about six months compared to the 500 to a thousand years it takes for an ordinary plastic bag decompose.

Another thing we’ll see more of  next year are  “reverse vending” machines which eat goods for recycling. They are being tested by Tesco in the UK and Woolworths in its flagship green store, in Palmyra, Cape Town.

Other retailers take note, as Jeremy Sampson, Director at Brand Finance Africa, says: “It isn’t unheard of now for shoppers to prefer one supermarket brand over another, purely because they express a serious commitment to recycled content in packaging or encourage their shoppers to bring their bags every time they shop.”


4) Embracing Zen (or at least the App)

 Trendsetters Virgin Australia have taken mindfulness to a whole new level – 30,000 feet above ground, to be exact. Partnering with Smiling Mind, an app which helps to create a mindful life, the airline now has mediation on their in flight entertainment, encouraging passengers to practice mindfulness during their flight. But that’s not all; you can also take a yoga class in the Sydney Virgin Australia Lounge while you wait for your next flight.

Mindfulness is on the rise and you’ll find new “zen” apps gently jostling for space on your Smart Phone in 2019, edging your fitness apps to one side. For brands and retailers the opportunity lies in capturing the heart of the mindful consumer.

In the words of Poppy Jamie, creator of the Happy Not Perfect app, “How do we make sure that our technology is helping us feel better rather than worse? How can we wake up in the morning and like ourselves first?” Here are the best Mindfulness apps from The New York Times to help you on your way.


Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting

Written by Jainita Khatri. She is the founder of Prana Business Consulting and has 15 years of practical experience in marketing for blue chip organisations and has consulted extensively with entrepreneurial and medium sized businesses. Jainita’s passion lies in digital marketing – helping businesses to build their brands and businesses. Jainita is a speaker at conferences and guest lectures Monash University and UJ on various marketing related topics.

About Prana Business Consulting

Prana Business Consulting is a marketing partner to your business.  Using omni-channel principles, Prana builds a connection between your brand and your client. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in Marketing, Branding, CRM and Social Media. Prana leverages industry specialists to deliver customized solutions for baby, beauty, health and wellness brands, locally and internationally. Prana is a level 1 BBBEE certified company.


Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796

Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / LinkedIn


7 Customer Engagement Strategies That Marketers Can’t Omit

Customer engagement today is very different than that of the past. Today, people have a lot of choices when it comes to the number of interaction mediums due to the large number of technological advancements, and customers expect brands to anticipate and meet their needs in real time.

Let’s ask the most difficult question – how does a brand go about engaging a modern consumer?

The customer experience is about so much more than just the sales journey — it’s about feeling heard, getting answers to questions, having problems fixed, and feeling a connection to the brand. In addition to marketing and customer service, brands need to be thinking in terms of customer engagement.


What is Customer Engagement?

Customer engagement is about encouraging your customers to interact and share in the experiences you create for them as a business and a brand. When executed well, a strong customer engagement strategy will foster brand growth and loyalty.

Businesses that focus on customer engagement are focused on value creation, not revenue extraction. They give people something meaningful beyond a sales pitch: a brilliant end-to-end customer experience, great content, or interactive, real-time customer support.

Customer Engagement Statistics

Here are some customer engagement statistics that might explain why so much focus is being put on engaging customers:

  • “Companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.” – Aberdeen
  • “Customers who are fully engaged represent 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.” – Gallup
  • “58% of executives reported not having a formal customer engagement program in place, and 60% didn’t know how many customers they’d lost over the past year.” – Convero
  • “70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.” – McKinsey
  • “Only 25% of Millennials are fully engaged customers, and their engagement is highly dependent on technology. In order to attain their attention brands much achieve excellence in every channel.” – Gallup


Here are seven customer engagement strategies that can build a loyal customer following:

  1. Listen to Your Customers

Mobile apps give companies amazing opportunities to learn more about their customers. Using surveys consistently will allow you to get feedback from your customers, which you can then use to improve your offerings. And though you might not like to hear it, negative feedback is the most valuable because it shows you where you can make changes to better engage your customers. The key is not to just gather the data. You have to act on it.


  1. Embrace the Omni-Channel Concept

Customers connect with companies via different channels. They have a wide range of channels to choose from and few use just one channel. For example, a customer might start with the brand’s print catalogue, graduate to the brick-and-mortar shop and make the final purchase online. This is the way the consumer operates today and you need to align with their needs, which means offering them multiple channels and an excellent experience across all of them.

  1. Get Involved

Regardless of the platform you use, you need to get involved. Don’t just talk at people, bombarding them with promotional messages all the time. Actually engage in conversations with them. Listen to their problems and learn from those issues. And respond. By responding, you show your customers you care, which can go a long way towards building that ever-important loyalty. Looming over your customers like a faceless corporation will not win you any brownie points, so get involved in the conversation.

  1. Engage them on social media and other online platforms

What’s the best way to get up close and personal with a customer? It’s on social media. Tag them, call them out, thank them, or offer them something to catch their attention. Not just on social media, use other online platforms and communities like Yelp.

But wait, don’t stop there! Share customer reviews and testimonials on your own social media pages to give attention to them.

  1. Use a Rewards or Loyalty Program to Charm Your Audience

There’s one thing everyone wants to get in on – rewards! Just the mention of the word lightens up the mood. And, people love it if they get something in return for their actions. Why not supplement your efforts by having a rewards or loyalty program in place? It’s a sure-fire way to increase engagement!

Host an Event and Invite Your Audience for Exciting Activities

Most companies perform some level of market research about their audience, mostly for marketing campaigns. Why not use that to host your own little event with only your audience as the attendees? It will make them feel special, and show them that you really care about them. Give your VIP customers personalized passes they can use to enter the venue, and then have someone greet them to offer them a taste of royalty.

  1. Invest in Employees

Your staff is your most important asset. The more qualified and experienced they are, the better they will be at engaging with your customers. And you need to promote a culture of engagement that focuses on creating an outstanding customer experience so that everyone in your organisation is on the same page.

  1. Use Customer Data Effectively

Relevant customer information is vital because you can use it to develop other strategies to engage your customers – ones that are tailored to your target market, which will make them even more effective. You should analyse customer behaviour and demographics. Don’t assume you know your customer because the reality might be starkly different to your perception. If you don’t conduct an analysis, you will end up making mistakes that will cost you in the long run.

Use all the tools at your disposal, from customer engagement measuring software to customer satisfaction survey tools, to get an accurate picture of your customers and what they want or need. The more information you have, including customer engagement metrics, the better able you will be to craft and implement effective customer engagement strategies.

Engaging customers is not as easy as it sounds. You have to connect with your audience on a much deeper level emotionally and build trust. Most importantly, it’s about going out of the way for them. We at Prana hope the above customer engagement ideas and strategies help your brand engage audiences of all sizes.


Top 10 Customer Engagement Strategies



Written by Prisha Debipersad, Prisha has a love for travel and has lived in Germany and Australia, gaining work and life experience along the way. Being proudly South African she is happy to be back on her home ground. She currently is completing her masters degree as well as providing valuable support to Prana as a Marketing Assistant. .

12 Innovation & Marketing Trends for 2018

A month into this New Year, and we can see some great and dynamic trends hacks and ideas for and innovations emerging for Marketing and Branding in 2018.

Yes, 2018 will see quite a few new trends emerging, although some of them will really be reiterations of some trends we have seem emerge across the last couple of years. Here are some trends you need to follow and keep track of, to stay on top of your brand’s digital marketing game and international game.

1.      Phygital marketing

Month into new year


This is my huge one for 2018. Digital will no longer stand alone as a separate discipline. It really just cannot anymore.

The digital landscape has transformed the way people communicate, share information and receive their advertising. Digital marketing can be integrated into all traditional methods of advertising and PR, making it an engagement marketing essential.

When the physical world taps into the digital world, the “phygital mashups” that are created can really hit your audience in a deeply engaging way. When people interact with a brand in a personal way by participating and engaging, they are far more likely to become brand advocates and word of mouth marketers.

Phygital Marketing engages us by tying into things we do, see and interact with in our everyday life

In order for ‘digital’ to work, it will need to be seamlessly integrated into real-life experiences – and this will really be this whole ‘experiential’ trend that everyone is talking about. In particular, at sporting events, at concerts, we are seeing the online and mobile experience leading into the actual physical – and, as well, blending the two, often with AR and VR playing a key role. This will become big.


2.  Augmented reality goes mainstream

Month into new year2

Before smartphones existed 10 years ago, most people would consider spending five hours daily staring at your phone as crazy. In 2018, the bent-neck trend will start to reverse itself.

AR will customize in-store experiences with mannequins that match your body type and display enough virtual inventory to rival any online site. Merchants will create AR experiences with their packaging so that demonstration videos can appear when you look at the product on the shelf or celebrity spokespeople can magically stand in the aisle to pitch the product. Virtual pop-up stores can be built to appear anywhere that crowds are gathered (in a stadium, a busy street corner, or even inside a subway). The number of use cases for AR is potentially staggering. Users could place virtual furniture in their homes before they buy to see how well it fits within the actual space (which IKEA have already done). Augmented glasses could highlight only gluten free items to the user when walking around a supermarket, saving people time picking out suitable products. And, more generally, overlaying more information about products as customers walk round physical stores or look at the product in public spaces could prove to be a powerful conversion tool. How much of an impact AR will have to the average brand going forward remains to be seen but, at the end of 2018, we should have a much better idea.  AR (Augmented Reality) will be a lead in Social Media -Brands on social media will need to take a serious look at using AR. With our smartphones becoming more powerful, social platforms will start to integrate AR technology, and this will enable brands to use AR and social in interesting new ways.


3.  Prominence on quality over quantity

Month into new year3

As digital marketing has developed and content marketing has emerged as a leading element of it, the world has unfortunately become awash with second-rate content. Today, any digitally savvy brand is aware that it should be putting out content for its audiences to engage with, but far too many forget that this content should offer legitimate value to those viewing it. Anyone can consistently put out 500-word articles repeating everything their competitors are saying, just to be part of the conversation. Ask any marketer if they plan on producing more content in the coming year and the answer is likely to be a resounding yes.

2018 should see a shift in the mind-set of content marketers. Yes, brands should be creating content that engages and inspires their audiences, but the mentality of ‘more is always more’ needs to change. Instead, organizations should focus on putting out quality, relevant content, even if this comes at the expense of volume. It might be an idealistic cry from commentators in an attempt to slow down the huge tide of unnecessary content but, as poor content will undoubtedly perform badly, 2018 should be the year that brands realize the power of ‘less is more’.

4. Video marketing has arrived and here to dominate.

Month into new year4

Video is the most popular and influential form of digital content for digital marketers today, and it holds the power to persuade better than any other content medium. With attention becoming an expensive commodity, what with multi-tasking, brands will need to re-focus energies on video content – to get better search ranking, better engagement and better content recall The demand for video marketing content shows absolutely no signs of slowing and in 2018 video will continue its dominance as the marketers’ favorite medium. 52% of marketing professionals surveyed by Hubspot consider video to be the medium with the best ROI, while 43% of consumers said that they wanted to see more video content from marketers.

This year, Facebook rolled out 6-second ads, which encouraged brands to tell stories within extremely limited time constraints as a way of getting a message across to the user more quickly. The rise of video consumption on mobile means that, while scrolling through a feed, users’ attention spans are minimal. YouTube has been promoting its own 6-second stories to show what can be achieved in that time, and expect to see brands experimenting with playful storytelling in 2018. Video is as ubiquitous as it is effective – 2018 should see brands working hard to stand out among the noise.

– And, make that Live Video. Every social platform now offers some form of live video – and most are trying to out-gun each other will various new features and ways of using live video. To really best utilize the power of live video, it will need to be high quality, delivering content that has value for the consumer, and be structured and organized – while still, of course with the reality of it being live. That’s going to ba a challenge, but with advances in technology, and better pre-planning, I’m convinced good content creators will win this game.

More video?  Mobile Video…

Mobile video ad spend will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion in 2018, reports Recode, while non-mobile video ad spend is expected to fall 1.5% to $15 billion. You can expect to see a decline of video consumption on laptops and computers for the first time — while video views on phones and tablets is expected to grow by 25%. The average viewer is expected to watch 36 minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, as opposed to half as much — roughly 19 minutes — on a computer.


5. 2018 is the year of the bots

Month into new year5

2018 is the year of the bots

We all have gotten use to speaking with bots whenever we call to make airline reservations or to confirm our bank account balances. The use of natural language bots will expand from use as automated customer service agents to become routine for daily living.

Home bots will do more than just respond to requests, to being able to provide timely information such as, “It’s time to take your medicine.” Imagine a bot whispering in your ear “don’t make that purchase or you will be over your credit limit” or “your parking meter expires in two minutes.” Bots will help with the children, act as financial investment advisors, and be an omnipresent value-add from the brands you trust.

Watch out for more adoption of brand-customer or brand-audience conversations (see voice marketing, later) using platforms like Google Home, Amazon Alexam Microsoft Cortana and more. I’m beting that this aspect will become part and parcel of our lives – and speaking to a connected device in our moment of need (Google calls these micromoments) will be commonplace. As technology better grasps natural language processing, this will make it second nature for us.


6. Micro Influencers

Month into new year6

Think of micro-influencers as digital influencers with a total audience size of between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Surprised with the audience size? There’s data to support it: Micro influencers are 4x more likely to get a comment on a post than are macro-influencers (who usually have ~10 million followers). Micro-influencers are more likely to post about specific niche topics and they have the loyal followings that share their passion and a staggering 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 33% trust ads. With more than 32% of internet users enabling ad blocker in 2017, it’s increasingly harder to reach users and micro influencers can bridge that gap moving into 2018.


7. Voice as marketing tool

Month into new year7

With voice search increasingly taking over the way we search, with our mobile phones now almost surgically attached to us, voice as a marketing tool should really come into its own this year. We are increasingly going to ask our phones, our cars, our smart fridges to do things for us, and brands have a huge opportunity to stand by, and become a handy resolution provider at that time of query or need. This will be a whole new kind of content marketing.


8. Augmented Reality Gaming (MORE A.R)

Month into new year8

Imagine shooting zombies while walking in your own bedroom! Thus, the biggest use of AR gaming to-date is definitely Pokémon Go, allowing users to catch virtual Pokémon creatures that are hidden throughout a map of the real environment.

Mobile devices

  • Through mobile devices like smartphones (tablets also), AR acts like a magic window


PC and connected TV players

  • Augmented Reality also works through a webcam and broadcast through the screen


Head mounted displays, glasses and lenses

  • AR becomes a part of your entire field of view, preparing for more life-like AR experiences – almost feels like Ironman with the help of the intelligent system Jarvis
  • What to Expect from Augmented Reality?
  • The market is ready to strike hard towards AR. The technology is on a rapid and quick rise thanks to the success of Pokémon GO and some other popular apps as well. The public is hungry for more and more Augmented Reality experiences. Our AR future is at hand, and we are now more than ready. From gaming to research to business, we may be entering a golden period for this technology


9. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Month into new year9

Combined with big data and machine learning, AI is expected to make a huge impact on how we market to our consumers. Users can expect highly-customized content delivery, automated based on their persona and lifestyle. Starting an AI strategy can be costly and require specific skill that are often hard to come by as the role is in such high demand. However, the large upfront investment shows promising results for those willing to take the plunge.  For example recent data captured from the Salesforce State of the Marketing Report where high-performing marketing teams are more than 2x as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers. 57% of marketers using AI already say it’s absolutely or very essential in helping increase touch points with customers.

10. Organic Food

Month into new year10


With nearly 22 million hectares of land used for organic farming, Australia is the world’s leading nation when it comes to the greatest amount, as well as greatest expansion, of land dedicated to organic production. It has more land than Europe, Africa, and North America collectively. The great majority of it is used for breeding grass-fed beef, but Australian organic sector is also producing wine grapes, grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts.

The idea of producing healthy, chemical-free food quickly grew into the grow-your-own-food movement, so garden owners started adding edibles to their gardens. Besides veggies, fruits, and herbs, they also keep chickens and bees for eggs and honey. Some are growing hops and grapes to make their own beer and wine, while others have taken things one step further by harvesting rainwater for irrigation purposes. Certain plants are also grown for their medicinal properties.


 11. It’s all Natural Beauty

Month into new year11

Target has been leading the charge on natural beauty since 2008. Since then they’ve offered natural and “better for you” brands, including Burt’s Bees, Yes To, Pacifica, Seaweed Bath, S.W. Basics, W3LL People and Fig & Yarrow. “This year, we’re rolling out a new beauty store experience and are dedicating prominent space near the centre of the beauty department to natural beauty offerings,” said Courtney Foster, a Target spokesperson. In addition, they’ve launched a natural beauty page to make finding naturals products easier. “Given how important it is for our guests to what is in—or not in—their products, Target recently implemented a new chemical strategy that is one of the most comprehensive chemical policies in US retail. This policy promotes ingredient transparency and bans certain chemicals in beauty, baby, personal care and household cleaning product categories by 2020,” Foster said.

Another example is Unilever. It has emerged as one of the most progressive players in the natural beauty space. Earlier IN 2017, the company promised improved transparency in its ingredient lists, specifically lifting the veil from “fragrance,” one of the most mysterious items on a product’s ingredient list. At present, manufacturers selling products in the United States aren’t required to disclose the ingredients that go into the fragrance under the guise of “trade secrets,” but many natural beauty companies do anyway, and by the end of this year, so will Unilever.

Natural deodorant is another hot topic, which is projected to grow more than 15 percent every year until 2022. Procter & Gamble got a head start and acquired buzzy brand Native, which is aluminum- and paraben-free. Like Unilever, the corporation vowed to disclose the ingredients in “fragrance” by the end of 2019.


12. Work/Life Balance

Month into new year12

Webb’s research points out 90% of college grads felt  “lost in translation” when they started that first job because boundaries to get tasks done are traditionally much more defined in the real world. Small businesses will continue to move away from the conventional 9 to 5 regiment that comes with a cubicle to a more negotiable looser set of standards that mimic college life.

“College is a 24 hour intersection of work and social interaction and work/life balance is going to be a huge trend in 2018,” Webb says. “College grads are used to working in a specific way and where they want. Give them the ability to get the work done and they will.”


A New Level Of Comfort In The Workplace

Office fit outs are about creating a home away from home feeling. This is done by providing cosy, welcoming lounges, communal canteens, and comfy break-out areas.


This helps make the working environment better which helps to make employees feel more comfortable and valued. Furniture that is used in most residential settings is now being used in office spaces that ultimately create a warm, eclectic, never-want-to-leave-the-office feeling.

Also, Wellness programmes encourage physical and mental health. Work gyms, showers and breakout areas that provide complimentary healthy refreshments are some of the few offerings that can create greater employee satisfaction.


The office space is heading towards exciting things next year as companies get innovative in their way of thinking

That’s just the top trends for 2018and some of these predictions will probably fail to come to fruition as technology and the expectations of consumers change. Nevertheless, many of the trends outlined here are likely to come to pass.

Based on current trends, marketing is likely to become more analytical, and more focused on digital marketing through organic search, voice and social media.

Do share this, and comment below. Thanks. Have a wonderful and meaningful 2018.




References :



Written by Prisha Debipersad, Prisha has a love for travel and has lived in Germany and Australia, gaining work and life experience along the way. Being proudly South African she is happy to be back on her home ground. She currently is completing her masters degree as well as providing valuable support to Prana as a Marketing Assistant. .




Trends 2018: Omnichannel is the New Normal

Trends 2018: Omnichannel is the New Normal

As smart technology enters our homes, cars, work and leisure time, marketers have the opportunity to innovate and reach potential customers via ever-expanding touch points. No purchasing decision is too small and omnichannel marketing is the new normal in 2018.

omnichannel is the new normal




Shopping: Mobile Integration  

The future of shopping will be phygital as we see options to purchase in both the physical and digital realms. Mobile is the common denominator between customer retail experiences. Deloitte in the US reports that more than 90% of consumers now use their phones in the shopping process.


omnichannel is the new normal-shopping

According to Think With Google people are also using their phones as an “in-store research adviser” with a massive 82% of smartphone users saying they consult their phones on purchases they’re going to make in a store. Online shopping South Africa is forecasted to grow to over R53 billion in 2018 and it is estimated there will be over 21 million active smartphone users here within the next five years so mobile shopping integration is an imperative for marketers in 2018.


omnichannel is the new normal-shopping-mobile



Home: Your Voice is Your Command

The Annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held recently in Las Vegas and the home of the future is truly something to behold with everything geared towards a technologically integrated lifestyle. The dominant tech feature of 2018 is voice assisted integration, the question is, whose voice- OK Google, Siri, Alexa or Cortana?

For marketers this means relooking at their brand platforms to ensure they are optimised for voice search. For an idea of how big this is and is going to become, Google Assistant is now available on over 400 million devices, and the global predictions, summed up by Branded3 are:

  • “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.” – comscore
  • “About 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020.” – Mediapos
  • “We estimate there will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020.” – Activate
  • “By 2019, the voice recognition market will be a $601 million industry.” – Technavio via Skyword.

omnichannel is the new normal-voice-command-google



Social Media: Personalisation

It’s only natural that in 2018 we might start yearning for more “human” interaction. How can social media help? By becoming more personalised.  Social is going to need to reassure the user (if they want to keep them) that they know them better than Siri or Alexa does. The days of marketers churning out generic content are almost over.

On the up side, marketers have the skills and tools to create content which is genuinely useful and ads which reach the correct target market. In terms of personalisation, mentions “Social Listening” as one of the trends this year, and I agree. Analytics need to be more than tracking growth; they need to monitor what people are saying and act on the feedback.  Ironically, it’s Chatbots which will give customers some of the personalisation they’re looking for. There are at least 100 000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger and a staggering two billion messages are exchanged between brands and audiences each month.

omnichannel is the new normal-facebook-messenger



In closing, 2018 is going to be the year of the consumer and by extension, time to make your brand’s omnichannel presence a strategic priority.





Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting

About Prana Business Consulting

Prana Business Consulting is a marketing partner to your business.  Using omni-channel principles, Prana builds a connection between your brand and your client. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in Marketing, Branding, CRM and Social Media. Prana leverages industry specialists to deliver customized solutions for baby, beauty, health and wellness brands, locally and internationally. Prana is a level 1 BBBEE certified company.


Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796

Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / LinkedIn


Written by Jainita Khatri. She is the founder of Prana Business Consulting and has 15 years of practical experience in marketing for blue chip organisations and has consulted extensively with entrepreneurial and medium sized businesses. Jainita’s passion lies in digital marketing – helping businesses to build their brands and businesses. Jainita is a speaker at conferences and guest lectures Monash University and UJ on various marketing related topics.


Phygital: The New Retail Marketing Playground

Phygital: The New Retail Marketing Playground

Physical merged with digital, that’s where the term phygital comes from. It’s a marketing and retail description, but you’ll find a world of phygital art out there too.  Omni-channel marketers should be excited about the phygital dimension. It’s a hybrid playground, and as Amrita Chowdhury, President of DY Works point out; “People move seamlessly between the physical and the digital world. Shouldn’t your consumer experience too?”

The brand retail space has changed. Once customers searched for a product, now the product has to try hard to seduce the customer; and we don’t just want to play and pay online. There’s a new phygital consumer who demands both a digital and physical brand experience. Retail Futurist, Howard Saunders, whose talk The Future is Scary inspired this article, explains the shift: “Ultimately, we are an innately social species that craves community, human contact and engaging spaces.”

E-commerce brands are introducing bricks and mortar stores. Most famously; the Amazon Book store. The first one in NYC is a cool 4,000 square feet with 3000 books on the shelves. Among its phygital marketing strengths are arranging the books according to data, Good Reads recommendations and Prime Member discounts. Plus, while you’re there you’ll get sidetracked by the Amazon electronics on sale.

Digitalist KRS Jamwal, summarises where we’re going with phygital: “The second wave of digital will be ‘phygital’—a combination of physical and digital, commonly called ‘omnichannel.’” Online brands are flexing their muscles in the real world. There are growing examples of this., calls Warby Parker the “Poster Child for the Store of the Future” and it’s one of the most interesting retailers to embrace the “clicks and bricks” trend. Plus the Google Pop-Up stores, which opened their domes on 19 October. Now you can Daydream in their virtual reality station, for real.

But predicting our South African phygital future has a lot to do with the retail environment. Do we want more bricks and mortar shops locally?  According to the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), yes we do. Despite the economic downturn, “South African retail property has outperformed the global retail property total return index for all but two of the last 16 years.”


South Africa is among the top performing global markets in the retail sector. In the last 10 years (measured up to December 2016) South Africa and Hong Kong were the only two countries in the world that delivered double digit total returns on retail property, followed by Canada at 9.8% and Singapore at 9.2%.

So it seems that in terms of retail, South Africa has the space for brands to transition into the phygital playground, it’s a matter of striking soon and getting help from experienced omni-channel marketers. In the words of Paul Greenberg, founder of the NORA network; “Online is a great place to start a business. Perhaps the only place… But it’s not a great place to get stuck.”

Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting

About Prana Business Consulting

Prana Business Consulting is a full outsource marketing agency. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in marketing, branding, CRM and digital solutions. Prana partners with the best niche partners in the industry to drive end to end solutions. Prana specializes in solutions for baby, beauty and health care brands. Prana is a level 3, BBBEE certified company.