Basotho’s Romanticized Consumerism

By Motebang Senaoana

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

After considerate time spent on conceptualization, advise and enough people telling you “Wow! That’s a great idea, you should do it!” you finally decide to launch your big idea.

You live right in Lesotho’s most active population; Maseru and obviously your first step is social media (it is convenient, it is affordable and doesn’t require much to start). Lesotho’s social media statistics current standing; Facebook (47.39%), Pinterest (37.54%), Twitter (11.96%), YouTube (1.72%), Instagram (0.89%), and LinkedIn (0.28%).

Like most of us, you’d launch a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, sponsor it and just watch page engagement(s) accumulate.

As the quantitative data increases, so does support; engagement in the form of shares, comments and reposting(s) from your friends, families and online supporters and this becomes more than a beacon of hope for your hustle, energy and tenacity.

As time goes on, financial acquisition does not seem to accumulate, it either stays stagnant or does not come, period. But how? You did all the right things, you posted on social media, went to the newspapers and got some radio interviews, so what could be wrong?

Consumer Culture is shaped by Social Culture

Before you turn any idea into a business first ask yourself, is this going to make money? Yes, the solution to the problem makes sense, but what’s your market’s spending behaviour, access to disposable income? How will you create a sustainable source of income (revenue model)?

Once this quantitative data has been acquired, the prerequisite step to take would be an understanding of your social environment, what is Basotho’s perception of local products, do they support them, if so, then how, to what degree? How much would they be willing to let go of from their pockets? Within that 5 – 10 day period (between 20th and 30th of each month) how will you gain their attention enough for them to give you money?

Mindset of Change

One thing to take into consideration is the wave of conformity across our culture. Basotho have not adequately embraced the willingness to accept and adapt to change, so most probably if they do not know you then they will not trust you.  This is where Social Media Marketing comes, the growth of Design Thinking Strategies for entrepreneurs proves one key thing, immerse yourself in consumer’s culture before profiting from it.

Even if there is no direct competition, lack of conformity to change is your key competitor; Mindset Competition. So what are your customer acquisition and retention strategies? Osmium has taught me one thing in business; it is one thing to acquire customers, keeping them is another, which brings me to another point.

Consumer Trustworthiness

Some blame it on the state of emergency in 1998, or rather our roller-coaster economic and political environment which has trumped our ability to give any one key entrepreneur (business, event, even young political leader) a chance to even prove themselves. Meaning ultimately what every entrepreneur should chase is not necessarily money, but Value Added, know your value chain, and thereafter what and how much value you can add within each value chain link.

 Of course Basotho won’t trust you at first glance, they don’t know you! So work on gaining their trust, you’ve gained our attention, so tell us, who are you? What are your values? Who is behind this “brand” you’re trying to build through marketing?  

Communication is Key

Not even distinct from the Basotho population, this transcends all population(s); brand communication is very important. Social Media Marketing embodies this with organic content creation.

Content is KING and Content Marketing is QUEEN! This we learned with event marketing as well, your communication architecture has to be impeccable, for increased quantitative attention and qualitative trust from followers and potential attendees.

Strategic Brand Association

The reason as to why I argued on calling this piece “Romanticized Consumerism” is based on this; it takes time for people to trust you online, it takes even a longer period of time for them to take out money and pay for your service(s) or product(s). They will most likely support in spirit than with money.

They fall in love with the idea of supporting you; attending your event, or buying your product/service. This is where strategic brand association comes, this is in the form of collaborations, partnerships and paying for brands who have cemented their names in the industry. Events do this by; sponsors, and hiring well known artists for events, and partnering with certain corporates, and public-private institutions.

No matter how much marketing and advertising you do, the first launch does not yield expected results. Lesotho’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is not one to be labeled “competitive”.

Of course, the concept of “Perfect Competition” still applies, but that doesn’t mean the entities necessarily directly compete with each other, so COLLABORATE. The idea is simple, Basotho do not support the course, but the team (or better-yet, face) behind the course. Long-story short, if I don’t know you, I will not support you.

We have not yet grasped the idea of economic inclusion, self-sustaining economies, and patriotism. So we will not support you simply because “U Mosotho”. We will support you because the brand we trust supports you, because you associated with and rubbed shoulders with the right names, used the right platforms, and used faces of the right people. So whatever ego you have as an entrepreneur swallow it, you will not succeed alone, whatever arrogance you have, decrease it and be teachable, you do not know everything.

What does this mean for Medium and Large businesses?

Many might argue that our entrepreneurial culture is tainted, because inasmuch as we advise our entrepreneurs to act and act now (meaning act, and fail now!) we do not allow them the room to learn from failures, even room to even start.

The faith in our entrepreneurs is partial, romanticized and lacks action. It begins with online engagements and ends with romanticized consumerism; the idea of me spending on your product/service.

Medium and Large businesses should therein give entrepreneurs a chance! One would be surprised to find out some of our entrepreneurs do not need direct funding, they need a break! So let us support them, teach them and buy from them at the same rate we are giving them workshops and seminars.

Got capacity building workshops? Great! Then make sure instead of Shoprite baked muffins, contact Tebello Moshoeshoe, get Donny’s Fresh and Dried Fruits for light snacks instead of Pick N Pay and Morali’a Monethi for great healthy food and refreshments from local suppliers.