In intenational trend watching circles much is being said about clean slate brands – fresh, new brands without heritage or history which younger, yet experienced, emerged market consumers appear to be turning to. What's the appeal? Well, unlike established, often tainted, brands, start up brands often better embody the values of contemporary consumers - responsive, accessible, sustainable and ethical. In an age of information accessibility and perceived accountability, there seems to be little hesitance to trust unknown brands and 40% of consumers worldwide say they do not wait until a new innovation has proven itself before they will purchase it. 1
The picture is different in South Africa. According to Bridget Dore, Consumer Insights Manager at Pernod Ricard South Africa, brand heritage has always been important to South African consumers and 4 out of 5 South Africans feel that cultural customs define them and it's important to follow them.3 These perceptions have remained relatively stable since 2007.
"In our emerging market consumers are on a journey. In some categories they may be more open to new things, but for whiskies, category credentials remain very important" says Dore. "Our target segment is discerning and increasingly looking for products that are timeless and of excellent quality. They value the legacy stories behind our brands and we see distinct trends towards heritage and craftsmanship being important for consumers. This is demonstrated in the boom of the craft beer movement in South Africa. Even in the face of economic adversity, there has been rejection of mass consumerism amongst some niche groups coupled with a growing consumer appetite for authenticity and quality."
Another trend, says Dore, is localism. In a cluttered market place, brands leveraging people's roots offer consumers a point of distinction and relevance.4 That is why it is important to localise communications. At Pernod Ricard South Africa extensive research has preceded the release of a number of new television commercials that have been localised for the South African market. One of these is for The Glenlivet. The brand's new advert was shot on location in Jeppestown, Johannesburg and features the triumphant return of the quintessential Glenlivet man to his hometown.
According to trendwatching.com2 consumers are looking to established brands to disrupt themselves to become more relevant. One way to regain attention is to get creative, playful and even subversive with history and heritage.
"Having heritage does not mean you have to be staid. We are challenged to be constantly creative, disruptive in our campaigns, but staying true to the origins of our products" says Dore. They've achieved this with the new campaign for Ballantines – 'staying true' to what consumers appreciate about whiskey but using Black Coffee, a high profile South African DJ, as the fresh and relevant face of the campaign.
Dore says Pernod Ricard South Africa strives to keep a delicate balance – remaining authentic while keeping up to date with consumer needs.
1 Nielsen, January 2013
2 Trendwatching.com - March 2014 Trend briefing: HERITAGE HERESY
3 AMPS 2013B
4 TrendGalaxy – Pernod Ricard Global – internal research