Picture: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
Picture: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Unlike the people of countries where the main concern centres on health-related issues, South Africans are more focussed on the economic recession and its financial implications, according to Kantar’s Covid-19 Barometer study.

As South Africans are feeling the pinch financially, they focus increasingly on price; 73% say they are paying more attention to products on sale, and 56% are going out of their way to find the best prices even if that means visiting a different store.

However, while SA consumers continue to seek value, two-thirds are trying to buy the same brands as before. “Shoppers want the familiarity of trusted brands, though limited availability forces them to substitute products,” explained Kantar SA chief client officer Natalie Otte at a recent Financial Mail Redzone “in conversation with” digitised event, held in partnership with Kantar.

The event focused on the SA-specific findings of Kantar’s eight-wave global Covid-19 Barometer study as well as its Global Business Compass Survey.

The survey was conducted among 4,500 business leaders, including 900 members of the C-suite. It aims to help businesses navigate the unknown with insights to contextualise, align and inform their recovery strategy.

Kantar’s Covid-19 Barometer study, on the other hand, tapped into the ever-changing attitudes of over 150,000 consumers, helping marketers to keep their fingers on the pulse of changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic in order to assist brands to understand the impact of the pandemic and ensuing changing consumer behaviours better.

The conversation was moderated by TILT chief creative officer Arye Kellman.

Otte revealed that 60% of respondents said they had tried different brands and would continue to buy those brands after Covid had passed.

In a fragile economy the value equation is more important than ever, especially in two respects: the brand’s availability at the right place and at the right price point, and its value to justify its price.

“During hard times people seek value, not the lowest price, so be careful of using price alone as a strategy,” Kellman said.

Pointing out that Covid has clearly changed the way people shop in physical stores, she said the appetite for e-commerce continues to grow. “Physical stores and e-commerce are likely to co-exist, which means brands need to adapt to an omnichannel environment.”

However, though Covid is a catalyst for change in the retailing and customer experience, SA will not be digitalised overnight, she stressed.

She predicted a rise in localism, and said strong brands will survive and recover fastest. “Brands don’t need to change their brand positioning – they just need to make sure the positioning is more relevant,” said Otte. “Over time our expectations of brands have shifted: we still expect them to show leadership and guide the change, but our expectations for practical and realistic solutions have declined as we find new ways to manage our context.”

Pointing out that what brands say and how they say it are equally important, she said creative quality is the single-biggest driver of brand awareness and consideration. “In fact, the impact of your creative quality contributes more to in-market cut-through than media reach, frequency or media planning synergies.”

To watch the recorded event click here.

The big take-out:

Brands that offer unique and creative solutions in the omnichannel environment will win, but availability is critical.

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