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While innovation remains a top corporate priority, executives are feeling less confident in their innovation capabilities, according to the ‘World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies’ study released by the Boston Consulting Group.

“Multiple factors are raising the bar – and, in the eyes of business leaders, increasing the need for breakthrough innovations. But very few companies are prepared to break through,” warned Andrew Taylor one of the co-authors of the report.

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In 20 years Ethiopia will be a force to be reckoned with in Africa and may be as big a business opportunity as Nigeria is today, a top international executive has predicted.

Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of global brewing giant Heineken, says the Dutch-based company recently invested in Ethiopia because of its long-term potential as a consumer market.

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Andrè de Ruyter, CEO of African packaging giant Nampak, recently discussed the importance of packaging in the marketing process at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg. “Packaging is an incredibly important way of communicating with the consumer,” he said. “Brands make sure that what they convey through packaging are the values they want consumers to associate with their products.”

When it comes to FMCG, it’s often a split-second decision that determines which brand a consumer selects over another. “Not only do we communicate the value proposition of the product through packaging, it’s also a great differentiator,” De Ruyter said. “Packaging has proven to be that key factor that sways the decision.”

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Is the sometimes breathless discussion around ‘Africa rising’ an accurate evaluation of what is happening on the continent, or unrealistic and over-hyped? A report released last month by global business consultancy EY (formerly Ernst & Young) says that while there is caution, there is also irrefutable evidence of progress.

The ‘Africa 2030: Realising the possibilities’ report reinforces “the tremendous progress that has been made in Africa over the past 15 years”, says Ajen Sita, CEO of the company’s Africa operations. “Africa’s rise over the past decade has been very real. While there are still a number of sceptics, we have developed a robust data and knowledge base to help provide quantitative substance to support the business case for Africa; the evidence of clear progress is irrefutable.”

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In a climate in which true product differentiation is difficult, a company’s reputation is increasingly recognised as a business asset central to maintaining and increasing business value.

Despite this recognition, says Wendy Salomon, Vice President for Reputation Management at global research company Nielsen, corporate competencies in reputation measurement often lag. “Even executives with sophisticated and smart market research portfolios find themselves asking ‘how do you measure corporate reputation’?” She says Nielsen has identified a number of best practices, among them:

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With growth that’s been widely described as ‘explosive’, the tablet market in Africa is brimming with potential. Although global tablet market growth declined by 35,7% in the first quarter of 2014, African sales soared with a 77,3% year-on-year increase in the same period, according figures released by International Data Corporation, a technology consultancy.

With Western economies being seen as saturated, and market growth for tablets in the developed world steadily declining each year, there seems little doubt that tablet marketers see consumers in emerging economies as key to future sales growth.

 

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As the South African retail industry gears up for the annual Christmas shopping rush, local research company WhyFive has released a 2014 Retail Shopper Report detailing what it sees as the 10 key factors characterising the local consumer shopping experience.

According to research specialist Alan Todd, the survey – involving a national sample of 8 000 respondents – was designed to expose the drivers of shopping behaviour among economically active South Africans, defined as those living in households with a monthly income exceeding R10 000 (US$920).

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Marketers must beware of using technology for its own sake and should rather keep the needs of consumers uppermost in their minds, a leading digital marketer has warned.

Simon Miles, Digital Director at Coca-Cola Enterprises, told a recent Global Academy of Digital Marketing event that most activity targeting mass-market consumers should rely on “less fancy” technology, with only up to 20% being spent on using trending technology.

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