Consumers now targeted more than ever - Facebook

Cape Town - Companies today have an unprecedented ability to target and assess the effectiveness of their messaging to consumers across multiple platforms and change it according to results within an hour, according to Kate Sayre, global head of consumer goods strategy at Facebook.

She was one of the presenters at the 60th Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) taking place in Cape Town this week.

Sayre pointed out that this ability to target and assess the effectiveness of consumer messaging does however require nimbleness and innovation, which large, established corporates generally lack.  

For this reason small companies, which don’t struggle with traditional corporate bureaucracy, are causing much of the disruption. She believes that where Google and Facebook have succeeded most is in being able to bring innovators into their firms and keep them happy.

Alibaba's input

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, in turn said the Chinese e-commerce company wants to "make it easy to do business anywhere".

Alibaba started as an e-commerce company in 1999 and this year 2016 it has surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retail company.

READ: Makro, Game owner looking to Africa for growth

Zhang, however, emphasised that Alibaba is not a retail company but a data firm, which uses its multiple businesses to generate data that can be aggregated and analysed to help its partners understand consumers and serve them better.

This focus on using technology to understand and customise an approach to buyers is at the heart of the disruption taking place in the consumer facing industries, delegates at the summit heard.

Three major breakthroughs

Michael Fertik, founder and chair of, explained that there have been three major breakthroughs in technology over the past 20 years, which are enabling an entirely new way of doing business.

The first is the continuous improvement of online search capabilities by companies like Google. This enables consumers to find information "about anything, anywhere at any time".
Secondly, storage of data has become effectively free due to the growth of the cloud, and according to Fartik it will soon be cheaper to store information forever than to delete it.

The third breakthrough is regarding predictive analytics. This is the continuing improvement in the ability to analyse and make sense of data, which means companies are able to understand how customers are likely to behave more accurately.

"The fact that all data will be stored forever, is easily searchable and can be easily analysed, will change the world," said Fertik.

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