South Africa has an extensive public transport system that carries hundreds of thousands of commuters from their residences in 'eKasi' (townships) to economic hubs in major cities.
According to the latest statistics published by Arrive Alive, the taxi service industry occupies 65% of the public transport system. A R40bn-a-year industry, there are 250000 minibuses on South Africa’s roads carrying up to 15 million people per day. By comparison, taxi transportation is the most widespread among local commuters relative to the remainder of the sector which is 20% by bus and 15% by rail, which is indicative of the income earning potential of the main market due to high transport costs. After all, the masses spend a large portion of their remuneration on daily transport.
Passengers travel some distance, traversing main arterial routes over lengthy periods of time to reach their destinations and regularly they will transfer from one location to the next via several modes of transport.
Because people are investing more time travelling and waiting at taxi ranks, bus stops and train stations, this opens up new communication channels, marketing opportunities and transaction windows for brands. A captive audience, these consumers in transition are constantly are looking for ways to reduce waiting times and eliminate boredom.
Since the main market is driven by experiences and entertainment, these transfer points present an ideal opportunity for experiential marketing to take the stage and to capture the consumers’ direct attention for a longer duration of time than traditional forms of advertising.
This trend offers real value for marketers wanting to reach mass markets and numerous touch points at high traffic intersections simultaneously. Since consumers are more open to being approached in these situations they will embrace a new experience that is engaging whilst waiting for their transport to arrive.
Whether brands are providing product samples, leisure activities or resting places with products/services that can be consumed/used while they wait, it allows a wide umbrella of companies to use these areas to communicate messages to a receptive audience and capture the hearts and minds of consumers.
We see an example of this interactive experience in practice on Bree Street in Johannesburg where a well-known coffee brand has placed brand promoters at a bustling node. While waiting in line for their transport to arrive on a cold winter morning, commuters are offered a hot cup of java, handed product samples for trial and consumption as well as promotional leaflets which can be read in-transit.
At the same time, key brand messaging is communicated by way of brand activators through live entertainment platforms. As a result, consumers are given the chance to truly immerse themselves in the brand.
The influence of the senses sight, sound, scent, taste and touch, on the customer experience is collectively activated in a single interaction and largely impact buyers’ perceptions, judgement and behaviour towards a product or service. This helps consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and is a powerful tool in winning brand loyalty.
Stimuli received from the brand activation environment trigger consumers’ senses and leave a lasting and memorable impression (in this case respite from the harsh cold), which can break through a plethora of marketing clutter.
These brand encounters also create useful spaces to position a brand positively across the major touch points where consumers can get involved, exchange relevant information and broaden their understanding of the product or service offerings and its benefits.