SA township shoppers prefer value over brand affinity, study finds

By our News Team | 2023

Nearly 60% of people say price is their decisive purchasing factor. Advertising is only a motivator in 10% of cases.

South Africa’s townships are seeing a significant shift in consumer behaviour, with a growing preference for value over brand affinity. That’s according to digital CX agency Rogerwilco’s Township CX (Customer Experience) Report for 2023, developed in conjunction with market research company Survey54. 

This as residents adapt to a number of challenges – including high unemployment, power cuts, poor service delivery and rising food prices. 

Consumer Behaviour

Photo by Vgrigas via Wikimedia Commons

Now in its third year, the Township CX Report polled more than 1,000 individuals living in townships nationwide to better understand their spending and saving habits, and the brands that resonate with them. 

When asked about their motivation for choosing a particular brand, the survey found that 59.3% of respondents considered price as the decisive factor. Additionally, 24.9% of participants emphasised the importance of a brand’s understanding of their needs, while only 10.4% mentioned advertising as a motivating factor.

“We’re seeing spaza shops adopting strategies such as repackaging products into smaller sizes and offering weigh-and-pay options. These approaches cater to customers’ budgets and their current need for value,” says Mongezi Mtati, Senior Brand Strategist at Rogerwilco,

Efforts of spaza shop owners are paying off

The efforts made by spaza (informal convenience) shop owners are paying off, as 25% of respondents reported spending over 50% of their income within the township. Moreover, there has been a rise in patronage of local spaza shops, with 51% of respondents claiming to shop at spazas daily – an increase from 44% in 2022.

“To succeed in this market and win the hearts and minds of customers, brands may need to consider collaborating with spaza shops. Close partnerships with these businesses will allow brands to increase their basket sizes as customers top up their supplies throughout the month,” notes Mtati.

The loyalty towards local businesses extends to the fashion industry as well. The popularity of home-grown brands is on the rise among township consumers. In 2022, 75% of respondents expressed a higher likelihood to purchase local fashion brands if they were easily accessible through store cards at frequented shops. 

This year, the survey delved into the actual expenditure on local fashion. Nearly 17% of respondents reported spending between R1,000 and R2,000 (US$53 – US$106) in the past year, with almost 6% investing over R3,000 ($159) in local fashion over that time. In comparison, 6.3% of respondents bought international fashion brands.

The internet is crucial in transforming life in South African townships, providing opportunities for education, access to information, and income generation. 

Last year’s study showed that 70% of respondents had purchased online. This year, respondents were asked about using the internet to earn money, and 60% reported that either they or someone they knew had engaged in the online sale of products or services, or were working online.

You can find out more about the study here.

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.