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South Africans opt for Values over Value

Research - Trends and Insights

– show Ask Afrika’s ICON Brands™ survey insights

As the world headed into the recession most people thought that the tightening credit restrictions would lead to a slackening value system. However, the opposite occurred, economic restraint has led to bolstered values.

Consumers have to think more carefully about what they buy, and this had led to taking greater stock of what really matters on a personal level, and on a global level. Social connection is being based on values rather than on material value. To be a winning brand, value for money, quality, and a commitment to a sound ethical strategy that promotes sustainability are important. Cheap and nasty or expensive and nasty are not the order of the day for the critical consumer.

Ask Afrika studies consumer attitudes and preferences through their ICON Brands™ survey.

The general mind state and emotional tone of the country will impact powerfully on consumer behaviour and trends. To gain iconic status a brand has to be accessible to all South Africans across all racial, socio-economic, language, cultural, and demographic divides. The survey therefore reveals insights that accurately represent the current local consumer landscape and can be generalised to the entire population.

“South African citizens find themselves at an interesting junction at this point in history. The attitudinal milieu is facing a dichotomy, on the one hand there is are still celebratory undertones of freedom, emancipation, access, aspiration, empowerment, and social mobility, and on the other hand there is rising discontent,” said Sarina de Beer, MD of Ask Afrika.

The democracy is still in its infancy and through a retrospective lens we are still celebrating the rainbow nation, and the lives of millions have improved since 1994. Consumer confidence is up, and South African’s have some appreciation of how bad things can be with the influx of migrants. Having said this, unemployment in South Africa remains stagnant at 25% from the 23% in 1994, 70% of the unemployed are youths, under the age of 34. Many South African’s continue to face economic hardship and brands must relate to the status quo with a balanced perspective.

The South African consumer context creates a plausible cause to indulge. The Ask Afrika ICON Brands™ winner results show that there is an increase in escapism and a bigger spend on leisure activities, travel, and particularly on fast foods and at restaurants. At the same time, social capital growing in significance, consumers are asking what brands are giving back to society.

“External validation is the driving force behind utopian behaviour, people are not necessarily being more internally virtuous but they are supporting causes and it is important to be seen as doing good. The up side of this is that to appear to be doing good usually involves actually doing some good. Consumers want to engage with brands that promote their utopian ideals and image of being a concerned and responsible citizen,” said de Beer.

Consumers’ emotional states have a direct impact on how they rate service and quality in products. The good news in that 2% more of the South African population is happy this year, as compared to last year. The not such good news is that only 56% of the population say that they are happy. There is a trend to appear happy in selfies on social media, to show photos of a happy family holiday. Perhaps some of the facade of happiness will rub off and translate into true happiness.

Despite the satisfying of pleasure principals already mentioned as a reward for tough times, South Africans are wanting to connect more. This is good news for tele-communications and network providers. Consumers are seeking out a better quality of life, more people are buying pets, there has been an increase in the uptake of financial services, and a focus on DIY and gardening.

South Africans are valuing flexible working hours and managing their own time. Routines based around three meals a day are disintegrating, people are eating on the move, and when they feel hungry. They shop when it is convenient for them. Individual choice and preference is becoming more important. Consumers want a say as to what ingredients are in their food, and under what conditions products are produced.

Brands who shift the focus from aspirational to inspirational brand messaging, and who showcase their brand identity through values with which consumers identify, will be the brands who can sustain over time.

About the Ask Afrika Group:

Over a period of almost two decades, Ask Afrika Group has grown to be the largest independent South African market research company. The company focuses on local relevance, benchmarked against the global context. Ask Afrika is a member of WIN/Gallup International and ESOMAR. Apart from its large South African footprint, Ask Afrika Group also operates in a dozen African continental territories.

Ask Afrika Group is well known for delivering strategic and large scale field projects and for creating benchmarks for industry. With regards to service excellence Ask Afrika Group is the preferred research partner across industries to co-craft customer service strategies through meaningful research methodologies across the value chain and customer service touch points.

TGI research, for which Ask Afrika Group  owns the South African copyright, has an annual single source sample of 15 000 locally and 800 000 globally. It has a global geographic coverage of 70 markets, and measures services, products, media, and brands. Ask Afrika’s knowledge of brands is extensive and as owner of the local TGI license, it is the leader in brand expertise in South Africa. TGI can provide a commercial alternative to industry media measurements. It is the perfect vehicle for brand positioning.  

The Ask Afrika Groups’ exclusive product suite includes the Ask Afrika Orange Index®, the Trust Barometer™, Radio Moods™, TGI (Target Group Index), Ask Afrika ICON Brands™ and TGI Township, the Digital Barometer, the Lite Data Collection, the Behavioural Sciences Package and Gateway. Ask Afrika is proud of its exceptional service delivery, with offices based in Pretoria and Stellenbosch. For more information please visit the website:

Issued on behalf of Ask Afrika by Stone Soup Public Relations

For further information, please contact Daya Coetzee
, (011) 447 7241

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