Metse Sethe and Koena Masogo, who hail from Thembisa and Alexandra respectively, pose for photographs in Maboneng, Johannesburg. Picture: ALON SKUY
Metse Sethe and Koena Masogo, who hail from Thembisa and Alexandra respectively, pose for photographs in Maboneng, Johannesburg. Picture: ALON SKUY

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a fundamental shift in purchasing patterns as consumers shift priorities amid lower household income. Most brands have had to relook at their advertising campaigns during this period to ensure their communication messages remain relevant in this new context.

In the final Gen Next digital event prior to the awards taking place on Friday, August 21, the focus was on how SA’s leading brands appeal to the youth, particularly in a post-Covid world. Moderated by Arye Kellman, chief creative officer and co-founder of Tilt, the panel included three past Gen Next winners, represented by Tony Soglo, acting station manager at Metro FM; Neo Dikamotse, marketing manager at Koo and Precilla Kalogeropoulos, head of beauty categories at Avon.

Koo had to relook at a big campaign planned prior to Covid-19 in light of what consumers were going through during the pandemic. A key focus of the revamped campaign was being relevant to consumers, given their revised priorities, said Dikamotse. The focus has been on staying connected to consumers and emphasising value.

“We’ve tried to be authentic in our communications and to showcase only relevant content,” she said, adding that brands need to be consistent in the way that they show up. 

For Metro FM a key concern was looking after its own people and quickly implementing strategies which allowed its presenting team to work from home, said Soglo. At the same time there was a focus on carefully balancing Covid-19 information while continuing to entertain audiences. Soglo said the station was very cognisant that there was an element of Covid fatigue among listeners. In the current environment, a hard-sell approach is often not the most appropriate, particularly if you want your brand to come across as a caring one, advised Soglo.

There is no question that the pandemic has affected buying habits and shifted consumption patterns. For beauty brand Avon, it has meant a decline in sales of make-up and fragrances while more daily essentials and self-care products were sold, reported Kalogeropoulos, which has required creating new communication narratives. Like Koo, Avon also re-organised its upcoming activities and focused on a narrative that was very customer oriented. In the current environment, she added, brands need to be transparent and give back to society.

For more information on the Sunday Times Gen Next Awards, click here.

For information on sponsorship and activation opportunities at the 2020 Sunday Times Gen Next Awards please contact Cortney Hoyland at

The big take-out: As the Covid-19 pandemic shifts, consumption patterns need to be transparent and consistent in the way they communicate with their customers.


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