Unpacking shopper insights from SSA over the holiday season

By our News Team | 2022

As Africa’s retail landscape shifts due to the pandemic, festive season shopper research provides new insights.

Understanding how shoppers think and behave over busy holiday shopping periods can be extremely helpful for brands and retail platforms looking to enhance their customer shopping experience, be it online or in-store. 

Borderless Access, a digital market research product and solutions company, recently conducted an online global study on the holiday shopping behaviour of consumers. This report helps gain insights into how the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) consumers shopped, their shopping types, experiences, shifts in behaviours and brand expectations. Research was conducted across an even split of male and female shoppers aged 18-70.

Shopper Behaviour

More SSA consumers are aligning with brand purpose. Image courtesy of Borderless Access

Overall findings across online and offline
In terms of online versus offline shopping, the results highlighted that two-thirds of shoppers across SSA utilised a mix of both online and in-store shopping. This is higher than their global counterparts, with online-only shopping being lower in SSA.

The main concerns which emerged among SA and Nigerian online shoppers were regarding quality issues, delivery delays and trust on shopping portals. In Nigeria, in particular, 81% of people were concerned about quality issues – significantly higher than any other country in the world.

The biggest pros for online shopping were the ability to shop anywhere and anytime convenience (especially true for South Africans), as well as being able to avoid crowds by shopping in the comfort of a chosen online location. Convenience for SSA shoppers over-indexed at almost 20% more than global online shoppers, which highlight the importance of this factor in brand and retailer communication.

From an expectation perspective, shoppers are looking for free shipping, easy returns/refunds and no hidden costs.

Insights into offline shopping
Almost 80% of South African shoppers ranked crowds and the exhausting/time consuming nature of ‘shop hopping’ as their major concerns when shopping in-store. A key insight was that was that shoppers like to shop physically in order to see and feel products in person, as well as receive it immediately rather than waiting for their order to be delivered.

However, retailers need to meet the expectation that shopping in a brick-and-mortar store offers a safe way to shop, the researchers said. 

They (retailers) would further benefit from offering personal and customised service in-store, as well as by differentiating themselves from competitor stores by offering personalisation.

Shopping and spending trends this season
Among the major changes in holiday shopping behaviours noted were that 65% of shoppers reduced their budgets and spent mindfully. Almost half the shoppers surveyed stated that they preferred better-priced alternatives. 

“It is thus key that offers provide a better return on shopping spending during these strained economic conditions,” the researchers observed.

In terms of gifting plans over the holiday period, shoppers seek inspiration through browsing favourite brands’ websites and by window shopping. Retailers and brands could benefit from this insight by offering attractive and appealing in-store displays, and by listing special offers on their websites.

This year, many consumers preferred to donate to charity instead of buying gifts.

Shopper expectations from brands that matter

The strongest requirement from favourite and trusted brands over the holiday season was shoppers looking for loyalty rewards and discounts, with over 70% of SSA shoppers mentioning this as an expectation. Another notable finding was that consumers preferred to shop in smaller, local stores and to buy local brands.

Consumers in South Africa (28.9%) and Nigeria (31.7%) were more aligned with brands with a purpose.