The greatest tool a man can use is the imagination of his audience. Using the mind set of the consumer to create an illusion that something is more beneficial for the persons’ well-being than they realize is the number one marketing tool to success. We see this approach in business all the time, as new gadgets are released, the marketing teams of these companies spin ideas on how best to penetrate the market. Apple was able to sell 6.1 million first generation iphone’s in 2007, it seemed to be understandable as now people could mend their trusty iPods’ to their beloved phone, convenient and innovative. But how does that same company sell 17.4 million units of its 4s version and then just 8 months later sell 55.75 million units of the iphone 5. How does a company like apple put in the minds of their consumers so successfully that without the latest version of the iphone they are not up to the standard they should be. The answer is simple, peer pressure.

We live in a society where people’s opinions of us are important, wealth can be measured through your spending habits and assets you own. We judge people on the cell phones they own, the cars they drive and the shoes they wear. The perception of a brand is long lasting and can be detrimental to the success of any business. Ensuring that your brand is labelled with qualities that are positive to ensuring peoples status’s are maximized has the potential to gain significant market share in a highly competitive market.

Marketing analysts understand this social pressure and ensure that salt is poured on the wound of acceptance on a slow but steady pace. A student who saves up months and months to afford the iphone 4s is shattered months later at the release of the new, more expensive iphone 5 that has turned his once trendy mobile device into something marking him as technologically handicapped.

In South Africa there is a growing affluent black middle class population named the “black diamond group”. This demographic is some 4.2 million individuals who drive consumption of high end goods and ensure that their affluence is seen by all. These individuals usually live in high levels of debt to ensure that they are socially accepted and regarded in the public eye as being wealthy and successful, despite the fact that over 58% of this group live in informal settlements.

As top end fashion retailers and electronic companies enter various African countries, it is important for the marketing departments to understand how the locals spend their money. Propagating that your product is the most accurate display of wealth and social security is generally regarded as the stable approach. Market your product in Africa as the indicator of wealth, despite the product being more expensive than the national GDP, and your product will succeed. Maslow understood the need for belonging and achieving self esteem, now organisations are seeking to fill that gap by stating that their product meets the standard of fulfilling these needs.

-Kyle Tate

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