People 'n' Issues

Eat, drink, be merry in SA, but communication not hot

August 24th, 2015
A recent survey has found that despite the challenging economic climate, South Africans still like to eat, drink, travel and be with friends, however the communications industry has seen a steady drop from 2013 until 2015.

The top three industries out of 19 industry sectors according to loyal usage by South African consumers as ranked in the Ask Afrika Icon Brands survey are Drinks, Restaurants and Fast Food, and Foods. This is followed by Travel and Leisure, Pets or Pet Food, and DIY and Gardening. Consumers have to tighten their belts in tough economic times that show no sign abating in the near future and spending is less frequent, their focus is on satisfying basic needs, but also on enjoying leisure time with friends and family.

Communications has fallen steadily, from being one of the top categories in 2013, to being an also-ran in 2015.


Drinks which include both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, with the non-alcoholic drinks scoring the highest were the leading industry category this year. A factor which influenced the higher Ask Afrika Icon Brands score for the drinks industry, is a slight increase in loyalty score across all demographic groups for non-alcoholic beverages.

This may be good news for those in the FMCG sector, yet even brands within this industry sector will require a carefully crafted brand strategy to retain consumer loyalty. This is due to economic and lifestyle pressures which decrease the frequency of spend, and also because consumers are more willing to experiment and try new products.

According to a recent article by Jakkie Cilliers from the Institute for Security Studies on Moneyweb,   “The gross domestic product (GDP) growth dropped from 2.2% in 2013 to an ailing 1.5% in 2014, and electricity constraints will continue to restrict growth for several years. And without a near revolution in policy coherence and government efficiency, there is little chance of average GDP growth levels reaching 5% over the medium to long term.”

Despite this, certain brands get it right and understand how to retain customer loyalty in this challenging environment. Ask Afrika recently conducted their Icon Brands™ nationally representative survey that revealed 28 brands out of thousands measured achieved iconic status, these are brands that are used loyally across the South African demographic, irrespective of income, education, culture, race, and even personal style. Sixteen of these 28 Ask Afrika Icon Brands were local brands. In addition, the top five brands in each of the 164 product categories within the 19 industry sectors were ranked.

The scope of the survey is partly quantitative, but largely qualitative providing insight into South African consumer mind-set and behaviour. These insights can help companies place themselves within the context of their product category and industry sector and provide invaluable, current psychographic understanding of their target market.

“Brand loyalty is not as simple as repurchasing, it is multidimensional and it is determined by several distinct psychological processes. True brand loyalty exists when customers have a high relative attitude towards the brand, which dramatically affects profitability. Consumers demand a continuing pattern of change to keep up with their fluctuations in taste, lifestyle and circumstance, even for brand leaders,” says Sarina de Beer, MD of Ask Afrika.

The Ask Afrika Icon Brands survey uses a nationally representative random sample, 15,690 consumers were surveyed, representing over 23.3 million adult South African consumers. An enumerated area sampling design was employed and the universe includes all communities with more than 8,000 inhabitants 15 years old and above. The data was weighted using the Statistics South Africa’s population mid-year estimates and audited by respected independent experts BDO and Dr Ariana Neethling.

Detailed Ask Afrika Icon Brands reports can be ordered which demonstrate a brand’s relevance across the evolving consumer spectrum to enable brand owners to increase their performance, either to maintain winning status or to improve future performance. The report includes customised trended category and brand scores to understand performance. Competitor analysis and a loyalty matrix that unpacks cross brand usage. Ask Afrika will identify market opportunities for the brand.

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