Modern consumers want conversations and to give feedback to brands

By our News Team | 2023

Absa Kenya CMO says the fundamentals of marketing remain unchanged, but the practical implementation of strategy is evolving.

The theory of marketing and its practicality are different now. While the fundamentals of branding, positioning and consumer persuasion remain unchanged, there has been a significant shift in the way that marketers talk to, and connect with, the customer.

This is according to Carolyne Kendi, Chief Marketing Officer at Absa Bank Kenya. In a recent interview with the Kenyan-based newspaper Business Daily Africa, she emphasises that the customer’s exposure and access to information is higher today than it has ever been.

Marketing Strategy

Carolyne Kendi at the Absa Bank Kenya 2022 financial results presentation. Photo credit: Facebook

Previously, a single advert was often sufficient to target an audience. Now it’s not enough, she says.

‘‘I have so many places to fact-check. Customers want conversations. They want to give feedback. Before, we had to commission research to gauge the market perception of a product. This would take up to a month. With social media, feedback is real-time.’’

According to Kendi, who assumed her Absa role in late 2022, branding in the age of social media is now “a different ball game”.

Organisations must be authentic and ‘themselves’

She told the publication that the most consistent lesson from her 20-plus years in marketing is that organisations, their culture and their operations ‘‘are like people’’ and that one can only be good at being themselves.

‘‘You must be authentically you across [the board]. That is the best version of yourself. Be better. Do better. Get better.’’

In marketing, some lessons are learnt the hard way, Kendi noted. This is especially so when feedback from the market is negative.

‘‘I have had my graph in deep red after a survey. At that point, you need people around you who will remind you who you are and support you. This is where family and friends come in,’’ she says.

‘‘Feedback is feedback. Whether from the market or your team. You must be open to it to work with people.’’

Brands, she told Business Daily Africa, cannot exist just to make money and must have a life beyond profits.

‘‘You need to have a purpose. This is what connects you to human beings. We make decisions emotionally and then justify them rationally. Do you believe in something more? What do you stand for? This relationship cannot be merely transactional.’’

Prior to joining Absa Kenya, Kendi worked in various part of Africa with the likes of Unilever, Diageo and Safaricom.

You can read the full interview here.