When designing and creating shopping centres or retail outlets, it is vital to know who you are designing for and to understand their needs to predict their behaviour. Lebo Motshegoa, managing director of Foshizi, spoke at the South African Council of Shopping Centres Research Conference earlier this year, giving insight about South Africa’s mass low- to middle-income consumer market, which has great spending potential.
The single moms’ club
Motshegoa points out that since single-parent households outnumber nuclear families, the “single moms’ club” is the biggest market in South Africa, so brands, stores and centres need to consider how to accommodate those women’s needs. “For example, the taxi industry offers VIP cards at a small premium to single moms so that they don’t have to queue,” he points out.
Respect for the customer
“Also, as townships are being developed more and more, many people are living there by choice. However, they often choose not to shop at the stores in the area because they will probably get searched. This emerging consumer market feels empowered and would rather travel to the suburbs, where they will get better service.
“A big issue is bad black-on-black service,” adds Motshegoa. “And we have seen how black Twitter can hurt brands – all the customer needs to do is take out a phone, record the situation and post it on social media.”
Choice is important
People also want choice and relevance. “Very seldom would a young person buy an entry-level car that is white in colour, because how are people going to know that it is his or her car? White cars look like government or company cars,” explains Motshegoa.
“Also, don’t dismiss our superstitions and associations. Although Lennon drops are not for children under the age of twelve, we use it to chase away bad spirits around babies. In turn, Chicken Licken is associated with having the best hangover food, which is why they should be close to the party hotspots.”
Money and debt
To better manage in this cash-strapped economy, according to Motshegoa, men are cutting down on having multiple girlfriends and don’t invite people out as often, since they would be expected to pay. DIY and multipurpose products are popular, and people no longer have issues about imitations. Data is also a very important commodity because it is cheaper to make phone calls via WhatsApp than using minutes.
Funeral policies are another essential spend, but loan repayments not so much. Blacklisting is no longer a threat and the debtors who make the most noise get paid first, but these accounts are not settled as people pay a little here and there. Normally saving is not a big priority and people are taking chances with Ponzi schemes and stokvels. Whatever credit they can get, they grab it.
Get to know the shopper
“There is always going to be the fact, holistically as a typically black market, that there are things that we don’t know, but we don’t want to admit it. Instead we just want retailers to know what we don’t know, so the challenge lies in figuring out what those things are,” Motshegoa concludes.
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Foshizi for the insights included in this article.
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