Mobile means that everyone can access information, be it peer comments through WhatsApp or accessing and comparing data via smartphones.

Everyone is very price-sensitive. 'Value' is still a very important word, but it needs to relate to lifestyle needs and interests.

Lower LSMs are looking for substitution of the expensive items in their shopping basket and, interestingly, Pick ‘n Pay’s own label is attracting many of them away from traditional brand loyalties.

Millennials, particularly younger ones, love accessing data, and they are carefully researching everything and anything. They are shopping online, however, most of them are using this to value compare while still preferring to make the bigger shopping trips to the retail outlets.

An interesting comment was that the high-income millennials visit their families in the township during the weekend, resulting in the Monday being a good shopping day.

It is important to appreciate how the extended family impacts the discretionary income of higher earners, and the duty to help each other is accepted.

Community life is dominated by festivals, religious activities and large family occasions, such as weddings and funerals. It’s very important to put spend behind entertaining and everyone chips in. Then, there is the vital importance of appreciating colloquial language.

If brands seek to make an impression, they must be able to speak to the customer on their level, using language the customer uses, but in the right way.

This is why empathy was an important topic that came under discussion because, without it, marketers without the correct cultural understanding and emotional intelligence will struggle to effectively influence and make an impression on black customers.

Reaching your customer means understanding them first – particularly when it comes to the pressures faced by low-income earners. 

It’s going to be very interesting to see how the 200 000-odd spaza shops evolve. Opening early in the morning, and closing late in the evening to cater for travelling customers, the majority of their day customers are children buying on behalf of their mothers.

Transportation costs are a big influence on the survival of the spazas, which are located intimately within their communities to the degree of being micro-influencers.

As more malls have become available within a commuting distance of township areas, and as vehicle mobility increases, spazas will start losing market share.

However, local communities seek to support local entrepreneurs, hence the importance of brands being seen to stimulate and support local black business.

While there is so much talk about digital media, it was interesting that several speakers referred to shopper inserts in the local newspapers as a key way for residents to shop and compare, with there being significant interest in promotions. With the media consumption market being complex, there is not one simple solution.

Older people still watch TV and read newspapers, younger people are busy with their personal digital devices, but even though different groups consume media in different ways, their daily interactions see these groups cross-pollinate with one another.

WhatsApp is a crucial means of communication, but wherever communication takes places, the content must be grounded in the lived experience of the consumer.

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*Image courtesy of Photo RNW under this license