Youth population drives consumption in Nigeria – Terragon boss

Mr. Elo Umeh is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Terragon Group Limited. In this interview with STANLEY OPARA, he speaks on the role of the new media and digital advertising in determining consumer behaviour and overall business success

Consumers are now interacting through various digital channels and as such plays a critical role in building the stance and reputation of businesses. How easy is it to influence consumers and what is the current acceptance level of digital offerings?

From whatever angle one chooses to look at this subject, getting consumers’ attention on the Internet is not an easy task because there is a lot of information competing for the same audience on the platform. To this end, any entity who wants to attract consumers needs a strong concept and initiative that would capture the thoughts, expectations and aspirations of its audience. Therefore, what is needed is to build a strong concept that is guaranteed to arrest the minds of the targeted customer. This means that brands and agencies need help in the areas of building equity and effective engagement of the ordinary man on the street via intelligent platforms.

This is necessary because the digital landscape is significantly more difficult than the traditional. The major reason for this is that unlike the television and radio model, which is a one way approach, in digital, you need to talk to individuals; it’s a one on one conversation not a broadcast; it has to be interactive and engaging for you to get good result. It is a platform that gives room for feedback. In a nutshell, digital communication requires more work in the area of creativity and innovation than the traditional. Despite the complexities in digital communication, it is extremely important that the target audience that spends most of their time on the Internet is effectively accessed. Through a well planned engagement platform, one will be able to appeal to their emotions in a personalised way.

It is believed in some quarters that the youth segment is more accessible via digital platforms than other options in the market. Do you share this belief?

I agree with that assumption to a large extent but let me quickly add that the entire market is today crucial to the digital revolution. Yes, the youth segment is easier to reach because they spend more time on the Internet but the truth is that the older members of this generation and even children are not lagging behind in the process. Having said this, I think the youth market is, in the actual sense, important in driving consumption because if you can hit them, you can link other segments of the market. At that point, you can relax and say your campaign is successful. These days, the older folks rely on the youths to make their decisions.

Some analysts are of the opinion that the digital media will soon edge out the traditional platforms. Do you see this happening?

As much as I agree that the digital media has some advantages over traditional media, I don’t subscribe to the thought that the traditional will die completely. I also want to emphasise the fact that we are not competing with the traditional folks. Traditional advertising will remain but the truth is that there is the need for people to interact via the digital segment. That is the gap we are trying to bridge. We are trying to ensure that consumers and brands are able to come up with a personalised engagement across digital channels, using the best and appropriate technology. Another important point to note is that the players in the digital media space will be taking a chunk of the budget meant solely for the traditional media because business owners will always look beyond the traditional to be able to be on the same page with the global trends.

What role is Terragon Group Limited playing in this era of new media?

We are basically one of the products of necessity borne out of the strategic vision of a group of individuals. What we saw was that the world was moving into the digital world. We observed that there was a sharp shift from TV and other traditional means to the Internet. We also saw that there was an increasing traffic build-up on the Internet, which needed to be explored.   Again, we looked at the ecosystem and we realised that there was a need to give birth to a business that would focus on the new media system, which of course will be driven by mobile and internet. It was this background that led to the emergence of Terragon Group. We started with mobile content aggregation, giving support to the talented people who are creating quality content and helping them monetise it. Through this, we were able to give necessary support to musicians, news reporters and creative minds in general.  Through our intervention, we were able to help this set of people put their works on the mobile channel, from where it is monetised.

In practical terms, what are some of the solutions businesses can deploy to grow brand equity, especially for the Nigerian market?

I think the first approach has always been to identify the target audience and the mode of interacting with them. For instance, if we are targeting the youths, we will ensure that brands engage with them via the digital channel, letting them know the value of the brand, as well as how, where, and when to get the products or services being offered by the brand. We aim to influence their decisions and make them buy. Like I said earlier, the youth population drives consumption, and we know that in Nigeria and the sub-Sahara market, digital communication is limited, so what we have been doing over the last four years is educating brand owners on the value of digital advertising. Of course, such education will involve budgets and other resources which, if put together, will help us reach out to the target audience more effectively.

To sum it up, a business should seek an enabler with a variety of solutions that can address contemporary needs.

In the European market, the way to go is desktop but in Africa, mobile is number one. We have identified this and we are leveraging on it to interface between brands and consumers.

This sort of business requires some strategic global partnerships. What has been your experience as a company?

Expectedly, we have been interacting with a lot of individuals and organisations online and we exchange with partners globally. But beyond this, in February next year we will be exhibiting at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (Spain). Without a doubt, the exhibition will be used as an avenue to showcase the works of Terragon Group to the global community. We also have offices in Accra, Nairobi, London, Cape Town, Bangalore and Port Louis and these locations also help us reach out effectively to our customers and partners.

Are there any needs for support or affiliations in your kind of business?

Yes, for example we were involved in FG/YOUWIN project and it was indeed a good experience. The results of the initiative have been very positive and we hope to see a new generation of successful entrepreneurs emerge as a direct consequence of this project.

Is the infrastructural deficit in Nigeria in any way a setback to the new media business?

We have adjusted to the style of the deficit, and when you talk of power for instance, it is not our primary challenge in Terragon. Our challenge and concern is to develop the mobile channel hub of the Nigerian economy. After this, we can talk about power.

What exactly are you doing to address this?

It’s simple, having known that the power firms are unable to meet the power needs of Nigerians successfully, what we are doing is to ensure that people are reached through their mobile devices. In days past, we depended heavily on traditional methods of advertising, where reaching out to people is subject to time. But the case is not like that with digital communication where you can speak to your audience even in their closet, and that is what we are doing. So the mobile phone is a strong link between the government and the people.

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