Black consumers LSM 4-7 are the fastest growing consumer group in South Africa with massive spending power. Astounding statistics have resulted in an increased desire to reach this market and companies looking to increase their share are hungry to learn how to communicate with them effectively. Marketers however are continuously challenged as they are faced with hundreds of choices (not all of them effective) when it comes to connecting with this audience.

It’s important to realize that black consumers are not homogeneous. Therefore focusing on core segments within this consumer group allows marketers to refine their strategies and to target specific consumers accordingly. It also allows for effective media selection that results in the optimisation of the campaign and avoiding wastage. Commuters, for example, comprise a massive part of the Black South African audience as 75% of all Black South Africans LSM 4-7 are commuters (weekly taxi/bus/train).

The 19.5 million economically active (a combined HH income of R137bn/month) subset of predominantly black South African consumers is particularly intriguing as something as simple as commuting has such a large influence on their daily lives, including media consumption. One needs to consider their media consumption patterns and preferences to ensure that your message isn’t lost in the general clutter of out-of-home and traditional media. Commuter media plays an increasingly important role in communicating messages to this key South African audience as it provides an alternative out-of-home platform, in a relevant environment at significant convergence points.

On average commuters spend 3 hours per day commuting; during which there is almost no other opportunity for traditional media consumption (such as traditional TV); however there is an opportunity for more niche, targeted media to enter into this space and to talk directly to these consumers. In order to understand the media consumption habits of commuters, it is important to delve a little deeper into the daily lives of these consumers. ComutaNet commissioned FGI (2011 Commuter DNA Study) to research the commuter segment and its ‘day-in-the-life’ model displayed depicts in a simplified way what the average commuter’s day looks like.

Commuters wake up as early as 4am to get to their first taxi stop by 5:30. Unlike those who use private transport, commuters are most likely to take more than one taxi to reach their destination and will stop at more than one location before reaching their final destination. This has become a way of life and much of their day is centred around when/where/how/if they are able to obtain transportation. Their social life, shopping patterns and media consumption is strongly influenced by commuting.

Commuters, like all South African consumers, are exposed to media everywhere and are generally large consumers of television, radio and outdoor media. The AMPS report of December 2010 reveals that 95% of the 17.7million black consumers (LSM 4-7) have watched TV in the past week, and SABC 1, etv and SABC 2 are the most popular channels respectively, whilst only 10% watched DSTV. The top ten list of favourite TV programmes shows that these consumers enjoy the daily soapie dramas, such as Generations (52% viewership), Rhythm City, Scandal, Isidingo, Tshisa and Muvhango (TGISA 2009C). Of the same group, 93% (Amps Dec 2010) listened to radio and 77% were exposed to outdoor media in the last 7 days (AMPS June10). Gospel music is by far their favourite genre of music to listen showing a 73% preference among black consumers LSM 4-7; followed by House Music with 39%; and Kwaito, love songs, rap or hip/hop and RnB all made the top of the list.

Commuter media specifically structures its content to suit the needs and preference of these consumers. Millions of commuters are not only being exposed to relevant messages daily, but are also being interacted with on a one-on-one basis. Rank TV, a unique audio visual medium whereby commuters can watch appealing and entertaining content, compliments traditional TV advertising on the SABCs and etv by extending brand advertising to the OOH arena. Rank TV also enjoys a 13% higher likelihood of being watched over SABC 2, 3 and etv ;suggesting the overall popularity of this consumer media platform.

Brands and media owners alike are identifying opportunities to connect with commuters as a result of the time being spent out-of-home in the commuting environment resulting in an explosion of commuter media. The infamous minibus taxi is one of the regular vehicles of transportation used by the daily commuter and splashing your brand images on its exterior is a creative and cost-effective way to get your brand noticed.

Although daily viewing/listening patterns might change, traditional TV and radio still play an important role in terms of media consumption in the commuter’s daily life. Commuter media such as Rank TV and Comuta Radio are certainly not substitutes for traditional TV and radio however they are complimentary as they are able to reach the commuter in a space where it would otherwise not be possible for TV and radio to reach them.

Media aimed at black audiences is everywhere but the trick is first understanding your audience and then to determine how to communicate with them.