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Consumerism After Lockdown: Guidelines for Businesses, Marketers and Advertisers

As elusive hopes and expectations of back to work draw nearer, it is time to take serious stock of how the current health and economic crisis has affected South African consumerism and the implications for businesses, marketers and advertisers.

Whilst both optimism and pessimism abound, there are few who would not agree that we are in the midst of having the proverbial “Reset Button” of life and business firmly pressed by the unfolding events.

In anticipation, Bateleur’s research team conducted an extensive and large sample survey of South Africans contactable by email to assess expectations of life after the current crisis, as well as their anticipation of how relationships with brands, businesses, marketers and advertisers will have changed. 

There have been many papers and dissertations written about business after lockdown, but few have their roots in local consumer surveys. These insights are rooted in South African consumerism.

A two-part survey comprising of qualitative and quantitative methods was administered to a broad range of South Africans, covering the entire geography of the country. A total of 1 623 such citizens participated. Respondents vary greatly in terms of age, gender, marital status, ethnicity as well as socio-economic status. Estimated survey accuracy comes in at 95.1%. Interviewing was conducted in late April 2020.


This article presents a detailed interpretation of the survey results unpacking the foundations of, and rationale behind the development of the following 10 generalised guidelines for business practice post lockdown.

  1. The Call For Value: pay careful attention to providing your best possible price, supported by convincing and tangible benefits. Rely less on whimsical, emotive buying. Remove unnecessary features and focus on fundamental quality of products and services. Be careful not to attempt to discount your way out of the crisis. Value is not only about price.
  2. Innovate for Needs Satisfaction: to gain a competitive advantage pay attention to, and spend effort on properly understanding customers’ needs and how well these are being satisfied. Focus product and service innovation on needs satisfaction before seeking differentiation or competitive advantage. Understand the triggers and barriers to purchase, and innovate to stimulate the triggers and overcome the barriers.
  3. Engaged Customer Service: improve overall employee engagement and working efficiencies to develop competitively superior customer service. Understand the role of highly engaged and energised employees in achieving customer loyalty, and apply efforts to grow a culture of engagement.
  4. Distance Retailing: develop and bolster all efforts to provide consumers with the opportunity to select, purchase and fulfil products and services remotely. Rethink product forms and packaging to facilitate long life, bulk buying, medium-term storage as well as ease of systematic dispensing for usage through time.
  5. Technology 2 : don’t cut back on efforts to enhance IT and especially the digital, internet-based links consumers have with your business. In fact, intensify these. Focus efforts on enhancing digital platforms to make a huge difference to customer experience, especially with respect to browsing, purchasing and taking delivery of your brands.
  6. Local & Artisanal: whether or not your brands are global giants, think, or at least support local. It’s not as much national pride, but comfort huddling that underlies this neighbourhood sentiment.
  7. Sanitisation & Hygiene: it almost goes without saying that all transactional interactions involving human contact need to have careful plans and protocols in place to ring-fence customers against perceived or real hygiene threats.
  8. Simplicity & Transparency: streamline and clear out the small print, embedded fees, hidden clauses, exclusions and all transactional complications that run the risk of presenting obstacles to purchase or causing consumers diminished confidence in your products and services.
  9. Custom-made Solutions: provide customers with what they want avoiding plug-and-play solutions or overbearing upsell pressure. Consumers will repay fleecing with disloyalty.
  10. Trust & Ethics: take care to build consumer trust, make positive connections and focus on human and family values. Become closer to your customers, understand their needs and emit positive vibes to stand out from the clutter of negativity around us.

Continue reading for a more detailed understanding of the foundation upon which these 10 generalised principles are founded, and their underlying rationale.

Click here to download the full article 

Contact Gordon Hooper for more information [email protected]

Visit our website to learn more about us https://bateleurbp.co.za/ 

Post-Lockdown Economy, Society and Consumer Culture

My, the world will have changed! 

Before going into the purpose of this paper, implications businesses, marketers and advertisers, let’s make a quick summary of consumers’ expectations of the economy, society and consumer culture in the immediate future.

Economic and political expectations include:

– Significant, even mass retrenchment

– Dramatic increases in unemployment

– Significant rise in impoverishment and decline in living standards

– The closure of many retail outlets

– Vast amounts of vacant office space

– Struggling and even failing businesses, especially SMEs

– Global recession

– Unpredictable prices and potential inflation

– Unpredictable currency rates

– Erosion of pension funds and investments

– A growing sense of anarchy and societal disobedience

– Political instability

– Further strains on race relations and cultural differences


Societal culture expectations embrace these trends:

– Continuation of working from home for many

– Home-schooling for many more

– Dramatic improvements in cost efficiencies both at home and in business

– Less wastefulness

– Increased reliance and expenditure on technology

– A new wave boom in technology advancements

– A newfound appreciation for freedom

– Redefined family relationships

– Heightened awareness of the environment and its protection

– More appreciation of the outdoors

– Appreciating the small things in life, taking less for granted

– A more relaxed and slower-paced lifestyle

– An increase in friendliness and courtesy

– An increase in faith

– A newfound appreciation of teachers and healthcare workers

– Heightened appreciation of personal health and societal hygiene


And, sadly, these too:

– Increase in alcohol and substance abuse

– Strained marriages and relationships

– Increases in crime

– Less handshaking, hugging and kissing

– Increases in mental illness and depression


Changes in consumerism expected are:

– Many forced to buy less, buy cheaper and trade down

– Phenomenal increases in online shopping

– Strong increases in the need for tangible value

– Shopping more carefully with more planning

– Postponing or abandoning luxury purchases

– Less impulse buying

– Diminished need for emotive statement products

– Increased support for local artisanal producers

– Less frequent shopping, more bulk buying

– Increased need for durability, shelf life and sensibility

– Extreme innovation and smart thinking from some businesses


Consumerism & Implications for Businesses, Marketers and Advertisers

Shopping behaviour changes … Dramatic!  

Only 5% of survey participants expect no change in consumerism and say that it will be “business as usual”.

The following 12 sections unpack the consequential implications for businesses, marketers and advertisers.

  1. The Call for Value

The good old “value equation” will be reset. A significant proportion of consumers anticipate buying less on impulse and to spend less money, in general, on consumer goods. Consumers will keenly test the value for money inherent in their purchases.

It is fairly obvious that the accent will be on “tangible” benefits rather than the more emotive “intangible” ones. It is easier to self-justify and prove the tangible than it is to convince oneself of the more nebulous emotive or image-related benefits attached to a purchase.

Price wars, promotions, discounts and bargains are anticipated. We all know well that heavy and continuous discounting dramatically diminished margins and ultimately poor cash flow, at the expense of consumer loyalty. In the short-term however, many consumers will be tempted by bargains.

Business Tips 

Marketers will need to pay careful attention to providing the best possible price they can for their products and services, as well as upweighting convincing and tangible benefits to consumers, whilst at the same time relying less on whimsical emotions that may have supported product purchase in the past. 

Product and service innovation will need to have to focus on removing unnecessary or merely nice to have features. Fundamental quality of products and service delivery will be king.

Resist the temptation to discount yourself out of the crisis!


  1. Innovation for Needs Satisfaction

Consumers envisage that business and product innovation will be focused on satisfying consumers’ needs for value, especially tangible value. To do this, a keen ear will need to be lent to the calls of consumers to have their needs met. And, investment and innovation will do well to be focused on the satisfaction of these needs.

In other words, innovation will need to be “consumer-led”.

Business Tips

Be sure to divert attention, effort and resources to properly understanding customers’ needs, and how well your business is satisfying these. 

Ask, and answer the question, what are the key “hot buttons” to successfully engaging the market with your brand. And then innovate to successfully deliver against these hot buttons.

Pay careful attention to understanding the triggers and barriers to the purchase of your products, and innovate to stimulate the triggers and overcome the barriers.


  1. Customer Service

A full 36% of survey respondents believe that businesses will overall need to improve customer service to be competitive.

Specifically, businesses will need to be more flexible and adaptive to customers’ needs. There will be less room in markets for one size fits all, “take it or leave it” service offerings. There will be an accent on tailor making products and services to be more specifically adapted to the individual needs of customers.

Of particular note, the attentiveness, efficiency and solution orientation of frontline and call centre staff will be particularly noted and called for by consumers in future.

Business Tips

Strong efforts to improve overall employee engagement with commensurate improvements in working efficiencies and service delivery will make your business stand out above competitors. 

Recruiting employees who are inherently engaged human beings, along with training, development and team building for engaged production and service delivery will be the differentiators of successful businesses from those that flounder. 

Develop a deep understanding of the importance of a highly engaged and energised workforce in the post-crisis business world, as well as how to develop and nurture such employee engagement.


  1. Online Shopping

Online shopping has seen systematic growth over the past decades and is now set to soar. 

In addition, consumers intend buying less often, but in bulk, and increasing their purchases of items and articles that are more durable and will have a longer shelf life.

Of course, this signals a need for businesses to develop a strong leg to their offering by providing consumers with easy to store, easy to dispense, bulk consumables online.

Business Tips 

Consumers will continue their desire to reduce contact with other shoppers, and increase their propensity to purchase online. In particular, they will move to bulk buying consumables that store well, dispense well, online.

South African businesses involved in retailing of all forms will do well to develop or bolster their online selection, purchasing and fulfilment capacity, as well as to rethink product form and packaging to facilitate long life, bulk buying, medium-term storage and ease of systematic dispensing from the pantry to table for consumption.


  1. Digital Revolution2

The results of the survey yield an undeniable and vital conclusion that we are about to enter a new phase of the digital revolution that has been with us over the past few decades. Digital revolution squared!

Given the inordinate sentiment towards doing business remotely, means that there will be a strong drive for further intensification of digital prowess in both the business and consumer sides of our world.

Business Tips

Don’t cut back on efforts to enhance IT and especially the digital, internet-based, facilities and backbone of your business. In fact, intensify these efforts.

However, focus the efforts on enhancing digital platforms that make a huge difference to consumer experience with respect to being aware of your brand, understanding your brand and, especially, browsing, purchasing and taking delivery of your brand.


  1. Local & Artisanal

Perhaps it is merely emotive, naïve, or worse, prejudiced, but approximately one-third of South Africans imagine that there will be a boycotting of Chinese products. 

In parallel, there is an anticipation that consumers will be more inclined to buy locally made products and to support small business owners, more so than in the past. 

This is particularly so of natural and fresh products rather than those that are processed. It seems that there are two streams here. The future may induce online bulk buying of long shelf-life products, but, supplemented by an increase in the purchase of fresh produce from local artisanal suppliers at small retail outlets and markets. This anticipation is in keeping with a further view that shopping malls will be frequented less than in the past.

Part of this anticipated change in consumerism is a feeling by many that a good proportion of consumers will migrate to healthier eating options.

Business Tips 

A move by consumers away from shopping malls and mass-produced global brands is important for nearly all businesses. Even those who are not directly involved in the manufacture and distribution of local, artisanal produce, have opportunities to support these industries and thereby gain brand favour via this association.

Even large businesses would do well to support local and artisanal product and service offerings either directly in terms of production or by way of marketing, financial or infrastructure support


  1. Convenience Foods

The fast food industry is set for some interesting changes. Whilst some consumers claim that people will buy fast food less often, as well as be less inclined to buy pre-prepared meals, fast food outlets do provide a highly convenient way for people to eat without too much interaction with the general public. This is facilitated by way of drive-throughs and home deliveries. In addition, we have already started to see opportunism by fast food companies and associated delivery arms utilising their infrastructure to participate in the trend towards remote shopping and home deliveries.

Of course, it goes without saying that fast food offers opportunities for bacteria and viruses to go literally from hand to mouth. This means that consumers will, in all likelihood, be more sensitive to hygiene and sanitisation practices at fast food outlets.

Business Tips 

Businesses involved in the convenience food industry would do well to extend their thinking to how to satisfy consumers’ needs to pick up products on the fly or have them delivered to their homes.

Additionally, the quick-service restaurant and convenience meal industries will benefit from highlighting hygiene and sanitisation protocols.


  1. Sanitisation and Hygiene 

It is a fairly obvious, but strong conclusion, that there will be an increase in the purchase of hygiene-related products. A full 47% of consumers expect to continue using hand sanitiser products. In parallel, there is an expectation that the demand for hygiene-related products, in general, will be on the increase.

South Africans are set to declare war on dirt, grime and bugs.

Business Tips 

South African businesses will need to continue or introduce “safe practices” in all aspects of their operations, both internally, and in the marketplace. Consumers and employees will constantly be on the lookout for ways to avoid exposure to bacteria and viruses.


  1. Financial Services

The massive and important financial services industry in South Africa is set for some major changes. A full 43% of survey respondents report expectations of an increase in applications for loans from banks. A fair proportion also reports a desire to cancel insurance policies and simply take more risk.

Further to these changes, there are significant reports of reduction in plans to purchase big-ticket items that would typically be financed either directly by the retailer or indirectly through a bank.

In a nutshell, consumers expect to streamline their financial obligations by improving efficiencies on insurance, reducing debt commitment on big-ticket and luxury items and, at the same time, relying on loans to sort out desperate situations. Many will call for restructuring of their debt repayment plans.

Business Tips 

The deep-seated nature of the current health and economic crisis makes one think that this time the financial services industry may have to think deeply about how to maintain consumer confidence and favour. The value equation applies of course, as with any industry.

Financial services and related industries will need to remind consumers of the tangible benefits associated with the products they pay for each month if they are to avoid significant cancellations and non-renewals. 

Further, consumers will become more acutely aware of the costs associated with the financial products that they enjoy or are compelled to use. Accordingly, financial services and related industries will need to streamline and justify their fees.

There is a strong call by consumers to increase transparency and reduce small print exclusions in this industry.


  1. Transport & Automotive

The business of transport and motoring will be dramatically affected by the current health and economic crisis.

Already we have seen the phenomenal increase in understanding and acceptance of the possibilities of working and studying remotely in this day and age. 

This means that more people will do so!

If fewer people are going to work, school or college every day, then it is obvious that there will be fewer vehicles on the road. This means a diminished need for personal or public transport for these daily commuting activities.

Accordingly, 33% of survey respondents are of the opinion that many people who are planning to purchase a new car will postpone or cancel that decision. Further, some believe that motorists will be less inclined to service their vehicles or will find less expensive ways to do so.

Given the expected growth in online shopping and home deliveries, continuous growth in the sales and servicing of goods transport vehicles can be anticipated.

Business Tips 

Any business involved in the transport industry, whether directly or indirectly, can anticipate tremendous changes to their markets. Commuting is set to decrease, the frequency of replacing personal vehicles is set to decrease. Logistics and goods transporting operations are tipped for increase. The taxi industry is well-positioned to pick up the slack for personal ad hoc transport needs.

Transport related businesses will need to dramatically increase the tangible value they provide to consumers in the products that they sell. Consumers will be less inclined to buy a new car because it has “street cred”, but rather because it is good quality and has the essential features required for reliable long-term operation

Automotive service operations will need to rethink their offering and move away from “plug and play” cash generator service provision and rather provide customers with focused, diagnostic and solution-orientated servicing which is underscored by tangible value.

Businesses that include goods transport vehicles in their product mix will do well to pay special attention to vehicle sales, operating costs of and service level needs of logistics and courier operations


  1. Holiday and Leisure 

If you are in the overseas holiday travel industry, be warned! 47% believe that plans for overseas holidays will be put on ice for many. In general, holidays are expected to become less extravagant. Simpler, less indulgent, less expensive, more down to earth and good old-fashioned, wholesome, value for money holidays will be on the increase. The accent will be less on keeping up with the Joneses, and more on family fun and appreciation of the gifts of nature.

Tying in with consumers’ quests for vacation and leisure will be an increase in purchases relating to hobbies, arts and crafts. Consumers report a view that less money will be spent on entertainment in general. Those who are unable to afford to go on holiday, or are spending less on entertainment in general, will spend more time at home pursuing hobbies and leisure interests.

Business Tips 

Consumers will rethink their holiday and leisure lifestyle. Businesses who are directly or indirectly related to the business of vacation and leisure will need to reorganise their efforts to provide value and relief to consumers and their families from their daily work and school day humdrum. 

Product innovation for wholesome leisure and vacation lifestyle enhancement at affordable prices as well as products to pursue leisure and hobby activities will sit well with South African consumers.


  1. Trust & Ethics

Consumers are no longer asleep! In fact, they are now wide awake to the realities, vagaries, vulnerabilities and fragilities of the world and its precious existence.

Accordingly, the New Age into which especially marketers and advertisers will be operating will be one of heightened cynicism and reduced acceptance of frivolous, insincere, browbeating or emotionally blackmailing business ethics.

Consumers want to be treated as human beings, and adult ones at that. They have a strongly increased sense of family values and want to be recognised by businesses as people and not merely sources of revenue, nor the proverbial “just a number” on a computer database.

Business Tips

Marketers and Advertisers especially, take care to build consumer trust in brands. Make positive connections with the real side of people. Focus on human and family values.

Especially from a service perspective, businesses ought to become closer to their customers, listen well and deliver appropriately. Take great efforts to understand exactly what it is that customers want.

Not unimportantly, and quite obvious, consumers are tired of so much negativity currently afoot. Accordingly, brands and businesses that emit “positive vibes” will stand out from the clutter of negativity around us.



Being forced into a New Age from a health, economic and business perspective will be a radically invigorating process for many business, marketers and advertisers. 

It will be abysmal for those who do not embrace and even create the change!

Consumerism will change not only dramatically, but almost definitely permanently. 

And so too will business, marketing and advertising therefore also change dramatically, and for the long run.

I sincerely hope that this article has been useful in helping you and your colleagues become a meaningful part of our future, and the well-being of our planet, country and people. DM


This article was written by Gordon Hooper,  Managing Director at Bateleur Brand Planning (Pty) Ltd

Click here to download the full article

Contact Gordon Hooper for more information [email protected]

Visit our website to learn more about us https://bateleurbp.co.za/


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