How a company can remain competitive in today’s economy

March 11, 2016
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, NAIROBI-IHL-AERIAL

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11 – What does it take for a company to remain competitive in the Kenyan economy?

A recent study dubbed ‘State of Strategic Branding in Kenya 2016’ conducted by Brand Integrated Consulting with various CEOs across the country found out that a strong brand and an engaged staff are some of the key ingredients.

According to Brand Integrated Managing Partner Richard Mukoma, product and people are the primary factors.

“This is with the exception of banks for they require strong brands and require innovativeness more. The energy sector on the other hand prioritises asset sweating and growth, while the insurance industry prioritizes product and market,” reads the study.

Additional ingredients that are needed by a company to remain competitive also include marketing. Others are growth, wide range of services, market needs and development of the right quality product for the market among other factors.

Broken down, innovation for instance is changing the nature of demand for products and influences their consumption. It is also inevitably tied to technology.

According to the study, CEOs are learning to deal with the pace of technological change while a majority of them believe digital technologies create value for their business. They also believe that mobile technologies are key strands of their strategy.

“The challenges arising from the digital shift are set against a competitive landscape that is also rapidly and radically reshaping.”

As far as having engaged staff is concerned, the CEOs noted the need for motivated staff that will be able to deliver to customers. This came at the back of high unemployment and large numbers of recent graduates in the major cities.

“A lot of investment in talent is ongoing, but whether that talent can understand and adapt to the realities of faster-growing emerging markets remain to be seen.”

It is also impossible to achieve competitiveness in today’s economy if culture is not understood. According to the study understanding local and regional markets and how to behave are all part of the agenda of maintaining competitiveness.

But most importantly, the study recommends that CEOs embrace strategic branding as this will allow them win in the emerging competitive landscape.

This is after the study found that CEOs in Kenya devote less than 30 percent of their time to strategic branding.

Broken down, up to 57 percent of the CEOs said that they do not have a documented brand strategy, and 70 percent spend their time drawing up a brand strategy only at business inception.

Further, 38 percent of CEOs develop their brand strategy internally with the guidance of experts. Only 5 percent of responding CEOs have their brand strategies generated externally by experts.

Reasons submitted for hesitance of using strategic branding included waiting to expand their business first then develop one, trusting their instincts on what is needed more than options offered in the strategy and having an already prescribed way of managing their brands among others,

Mukoma however disagrees: “Our experience over the last eight years with brands from different industries, coupled with global benchmarks shows that the most successful brands value and prioritize strategic branding”, said Mukoma.

“Seeing the future clearly and developing a proactive response – rather than simply reacting to events – will be a key source of competitive advantage in a fast-evolving market, thus the need for Strategic Branding.”

Strategic branding aside, what worries CEs most?

The differing rates of economic growth, the impact of new digital technologies, shifting demographics, changing customer behaviour and environmental issues have compounded the challenges.

The study adds that the quest for new markets, new products and new customers continues to dominate CEO agendas.

Going forward, which trends do CEOs think will transform businesses?

“More than half of the CEOs interviewed pointed to urbanization, a largely youthful population, demographic fluctuations as well as global shifts in consumer knowledge and preferences to be trends that will transform their businesses over the coming years,” reads the study.

They also identified trends such as technological advance like the digital economy, social media and mobile devices.

“As far as urbanization is concerned, Kenyan CEOs are more wary about entering new markets especially with the recent devolved government system which created counties thus there is expected county and devolved urbanization owing to emerging people with urban lifestyle and urban thinking.”

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