Defining the post-2020 consumer in South Africa

A ‘trend’ is essentially a behaviour that consumers express when they navigate the world at one moment, in a particular cultural climate, in order to meet their underlying fundamental needs.

According to our 2021 Culture + Trends Report: Happiness Reset, three trends are significantly different in South Africa to the rest of the world.

Neighbourly Networks

The first of these is ‘Neighbourly Networks’; accelerated by COVID-19, consumers are recognising the value of community ties to their social lifestyles; at the same time new platforms are enabling local networks to tackle growing concerns of education gaps, loneliness and sustainability. ‘Neighbourly Networks’ scores more highly amongst South African consumers (81%) than the global average (73%).

In fact, 83% of consumers in South Africa identified that they “feel a responsibility to actively support the people and businesses in their local community”. This community spirit is deeply ingrained in the South African culture; this is due to the presence of ‘ubuntu’, a philosophical concept linked to compassion and humanity, used by politicians and public figures to describe the country’s spirit of togetherness. Tapping into the ‘Neighbourly Networks’ trend, Proudly South African is a membership organization that aims to combat the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. Just one element of the brand offering is an online store that stocks member company products and services to help consumers buy locally.

At-home pleasures

Value is being placed on local communities. But we also see South African consumers highly attuned to the need for pleasurable and sensorial experiences heightened by the pandemic restrictions. Encapsulated by the trend ‘At-home Pleasures’, 88% of South Africans agree they “want to experience luxury and pleasurable moments at home”. The trend score, which considers behaviour as well as attitude, is 82% amongst South African consumers; among global consumers this is 75%.

Multichoice, Africa’s leading broadcasting company, tapped into this trend in 2020.; they launched their largest offering of new products, programmes and value-added bundles in over 10 years. This is a massive leap forward for the brand; they are utilising the desire for at-home pleasures by fostering social engagement at home. Meanwhile in the online shopping and home-delivery space, Woolworths experienced their biggest growth in online sales to date. In the last 26 weeks of 2020, they experienced a 158% growth in online sales. This was due to their online delivery service, click-and-collect offering, and seamless returns process.

Reimagined Interactions

Finally, we come to ‘Reimagined Interactions’; its global trend score is 66%, and 68% in South Africa. From the rapid rise in home working to the adoption of online appointments, the way people interact is changing. Consumers who identify with this trend state that they “need new ways to interact with people in their social and professional life”.

Across the African continent, digital adoption has spring-boarded brands into the future; engagement and interaction with brands that are not typically in the digital space, today have been forced online. Consumers are adopting the trend toward digital much faster than if offline options had still been available. Popular brand Quiz Nights SA have gone above and beyond during lockdown restrictions; their aim: to bring pub nights into our homes, a great example of a brand being able to transcend limitations. The partnership between Discovery and Vodafone, meanwhile, has enabled consumers to visit a doctor from their home computers. This has changed the entire dynamic of a traditionally face-to-face interaction.

The time is now for brands to act upon this accelerated consumer behaviour – or consumer trends – in order to stay relevant! For help in navigating the post-2020 South African consumer, get in touch!

2021 Culture + Trends report

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