South African consumers have a particular affinity to local brands and tend to use either local brands or brands which they feel are their own.
The Ask Afrika Icon Brands survey identifies brands that are used across the South Africa demographic irrespective of race, culture, income, education, or lifestyle. This year 16 out of the 28 brands that reached iconic status, selected from thousands of brands measured within 164 product categories and 19 industry sectors, were local brands. The international brands that achieved icon status and resonate with local consumers are ones which are so ingrained in the South African lifestyle that many people think of them as being local brands.
South Africans are willing to pay more for quality products and, in line with global trends, functionality from a brand is no-longer enough – consumers want brands that make them feel something, that provide an experience with which they can identify. They are looking for brands that they “feel at home” with and that create a sense of belonging.
“Winning brands follow an emotional strategy, optimising social and sensory dimensions and they localise. Economic pressure is impacting loyalty as well as a range of social influencers. The quest for loyalty is becoming more complex, it is now about ticking all the boxes – the loyalty principles need to be re-considered,” says Sarina de Beer, MD of Ask Afrika.
About 40% of Millennials claim a preference for buying local, even if these goods were more expensive than mass market alternatives. This finding should take into account the pressure of social mobility and social dependency, which are more pronounced in youth markets. There are some differences and conspicuous consumption amongst some segments. Personal expression is still a strong influencer behind consumption.
The Ask Afrika Icon Brands survey found that it is still important for brands to show what they are giving back to the country, South African society, and its communities. Values are still a key driver on the path to purchase, brand choice is influenced by a brand identity that is authentic and has built trust.
De Beer comments: “This is vital and the bar has just been raised, again. A few years ago we spoke about aspiration being a driver, two years ago we said there was a movement from aspiration to inspiration. The future is a shift from inspiration to provocation – we will have to dig deeper to enable consumers to take notice and feel something.”
Consumers need to be able to relate to a brand in order to feel something about it and brand owners need to put in effort in this regard and not be complacent about their place in the market. Familiarity breeds trust and consumers tend to trust brands that are able to localise more. Brands that fit into the consumer lifestyle seamlessly, that become ingrained in a family lifestyle appealing to all age groups in a family, and that symbolise in some way what it means to be a South African, will find it easier to gain iconic status across the local demographic.