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    Trust and wanting a specific agency overcomes competitive conflict for clients

    The latest Scopen study shows that the percentage of clients not concerned by competitive conflict in their sector within an agency has grown from 21,3% in 2019 to 40% now.
    Source: © 123rf  The latest Scopen study shows that the percentage of clients not concerned by competitive conflict in their sector within an agency has grown from 21,3% in 2019 to 40% now
    Source: © 123rf 123rf The latest Scopen study shows that the percentage of clients not concerned by competitive conflict in their sector within an agency has grown from 21,3% in 2019 to 40% now

    Once certain clients preferred not to employ an agency that was working with a competitor, but today attitudes have changed.

    Highlighting this trend, Scopen president and CEO, César Vacchiano notes that this is a fair leap.

    “While precise reasons were not requested from respondents, further analysis indicates that two main factors stand out in marketer’s attitudes to this – trust, and wanting a specific agency, at all costs.”

    Johanna McDowell, chief executive officer at Independent Agency Selection (IAS) and managing partner of Scopen Africa adds that they saw an uptick in trust between clients and agencies during Covid-19 and are pleased to see all parties appear to be maintaining the status quo.

    A maturing of the market

    “This, combined with clients knowing that a specific agency will be best for what they want to achieve and choosing them despite any reservations they may have had shows a maturing of the market,” she says.

    Vacchiano and McDowell would be interested in discussing this with marketers as further digging may bring interesting new moves to light.

    “Is it only about trust, or the fact that some agencies are positioning themselves in the consultancy space, which is known for being a space that has always had conflicting clients and competitive brands,” asks McDowell.

    “It is less of an issue than it used to be,” Vacchiano posits. “In some cases, the degree of specialisation of an agency and its reputation means their value is such that some clients are prepared to take any perceived risk simply because they want that speciality and that service,” he points out.

    Trust, technology and intellectual property

    Here, McDowell notes that it is not in the interest of any agency to share client information or be concerned about what a competitive brand may be doing.

    “For years, agencies have had frameworks within teams work so that another team on a competitor’s project doesn’t get the down low on who is doing what.

    “Technology, too, can ensure that even within the same agency, competitor’s information can be locked down and accessed only by password protection for each project.

    “Agencies have long been using both company values and technology to protect each client’s intellectual property, again reducing any anxiety in among marketers,” she explains.

    Trust is winning

    Clients not entirely comfortable with sharing an agency with competitors are usually in the retail, banking and FMCG sectors - even these may share an agency depending on what type of work the agency is doing for each.

    Again, Vacchiano highlights that it is not in any agency’s best interest to transgress the protective framework.

    McDowell adds, “Overall, a key factor is a marketer wants the agency they want. They want the creativity, culture, and level of innovation, and are prepared to work with an agency known for meeting the highest standards in each area.

    “Clients want the best and in a sea of sameness, they’re showing more and more that they’re willing to roll the dice on an agency known for being the best. So far, trust is winning.”

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