Ricochet News

4 Growing Consumer Trends in South Africa

Oct 17, 2019
4 Growing Consumer Trends in South Africa

In the digital age, consumer trends are moving at an accelerated pace. In South Africa, this has significantly impacted the retail sector as e-tailing meets traditional in-store shopping while urbanization in the country’s major economic centers is affecting the sector’s development of retail infrastructure.

Connected technology is also having an impact on lifestyles as smart devices and artificial intelligence are increasingly being integrated into phones, cars, and homes. Here we check out four distinctive consumer trends in 2019.

Shopping Centers

The increase in online retailing has influenced the way in which South African consumers buy their goods in-store but it hasn’t stopped it in its tracks. Social media has been recognized as an influencer and as such retailers are increasingly using such platforms to build their reputation.

Gavin Tagg, Retail Network Services’ managing director has said brand loyalty was more important than ever. He noted how “personalization” was crucial and that technology was bringing retailers closer to their customers.

Leisure has combined to make the shopping experience more engaging and fulfilling in a country that has the sixth-highest number of shopping centers in the world.

Online Gaming

Gambling revenues increased by 3.5% between 2017 and 2018 according to data released by the Casino Association of South Africa. It means gross revenues within the sector are at an all-time high of R18.5 billion. Competition within the market has afforded consumers greater choice.

Anita Fuller, Deloitte Africa’s Consulting Telecommunications, Media and Technology leader, said the sector was "morphing at an unprecedented speed" which is seeing a rise in online casinos, eSports competitions, and lottery players in both the national Lotto and at operators such as Lottoland SA, an online hub where people can bet on international lotto events from around the world without buying a physical ticket, allowing them to win the same amount of money as the official lotteries offer.

Health and Wellness

South Africa is seeing a rise in self-medication in 2019. as products in the market represent a cheaper option to rising medical and medical aid costs. Over-the-counter medicine for coughs and colds has experienced strong growth, for instance. Meanwhile, the food market has seen sales rise for items such as lactose and gluten-free products.

This is also creating opportunities in the consumer tech, beverage, domestic appliance, and entertainment sectors. For example, 19% of South Africans who have access to the internet own smartwatches.

Software is now tapping into consumers’ concerns about health, as evidenced by the growing use of fitness trackers.

Social Media


"Social Media Keyboard" (Public Domain) by Shahid Abdullah

While social media is changing the way South Africans spend, it is also having an impact on the way people are interacting and experiencing media. Generation Z, having grown up in the digital era, now forms a large part of the adult customer base.

Contextual marketing is seen as a way to engage with this group while platforms such as Instagram and Spotify are becoming fertile ground for marketing campaigns.

Recently, brands have had success by taking a moral position on social issues such as Absolut Vodka’s specially designed bottles championing the LGBTQ community.

The consumer market in South Africa is in flux. Various factors are influencing the way consumers are interacting, spending their money, and living their lives.

As technology continues to evolve and become an increasingly ingrained aspect of consumer lifestyles, we can expect the markets to get even more creative in the ways they seek to engage with their customers.

Main image: "Cape Town, South Africa" (CC BY 2.0) by Gurney5

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