Food inflation leads to big changes in shopping habits of SA consumers

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

Nine out of 10 respondents to survey have changed their shopping habits and have downgraded from premium to value FMCG products.

The recent ‘Consumer Outlook 2024’ report by consumer intelligence company Nielsen IQ (NIQ) indicates that, across the board, South African consumers are drastically tightening their belts. 


Nine out of 10 respondents (99%) have changed their shopping habits when buying FMCG items, and have downgraded from premium to mainstream or value products. Almost half (48%) have switched to lower-priced options. 


The findings also show that 44% of consumers feel they are in a worse financial position compared to a year ago. Of those respondents, 82% say that increased costs of living are to blame for their financial challenges, up from 76% a year ago. Nearly two-thirds (62%) believe they are worse off due to the economic slowdown, up from 57% a year ago. 

Photo by Andrea Bova from Pexels


Creative in their shopping strategies 


“South African consumers have lived through several years of load shedding, rising costs and slow economic growth. Our data shows that they are becoming increasingly proactive and creative in their strategies to reduce costs — creating opportunities for innovative FMCG brands and retailers to expand their market share even in difficult times,” says Zak Haeri, MD for NIQ in South Africa. 


“In addition to value shopping, South African consumers are using mobile channels to find better deals and shopping at stores that offer loyalty points.  


“While promotions and value product options are important strategies in today’s economic climate, it’s clear that retailers can also achieve breakthrough growth by focusing on their omni-channel presence and customer relationship management programmes.”   


Among the key findings: 


  • 65% of consumers believe their financial situation will be better by the end of 2024, while 20% believe it will be worse. 


  • Increasing food prices is the biggest concern over the next six months. More than half (55%) say they have only enough money to cover food, shelter and the basics. 


  • Close to half (46%) of South African consumers are closely monitoring the overall cost of their basket of goods. Buying whatever brand is on promotion is a preferred saving strategy for 39%, while 45% have stopped buying certain products to focus on just the essentials. 


  • Bulk buys are a key saving strategy. Nearly half (48%) stock up or buy in bulk when their preferred products are on sale or promotion; 31% are buying larger package sizes. 
  • Where and how people shop is evolving. Some 46% are shopping more often at discount or value stores, 31% are shopping online to get better deals and save transport money, and 59% shop at stores where they can use loyalty points to manage spend. 


  • Healthy living is the top life priority influencing consumers:38% of South Africa consumers want to build, maintain or improve their health and wellness.57% of consumers would choose a new product because it is better for their health. 


  • Seven in 10 people only buy what they know they can use to avoid waste, much higher than the global average of 56%.52% are eating leftovers more often and 25% are skipping more meals. 

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.