You can’t look at consumers from Sandton in the same way you look at consumers from Dobsonville. Nor do shoppers in Soweto exhibit similar buying patterns to those living Roodepoort. A Woolworths consumer could be profiled as white, between the ages of 25-49 and guaged as a LSM 10. But in Soweto, 85% of Woolworths clothing shoppers are LSM 6-8.
These are the facts, says John Bowles, joint MD of Caxton’s Newspaper Advertising Bureau (NAB). And that is why geography is an extraordinarily powerful tool for advertisers, marketers and agencies when developing strategic plans on how to penetrate different markets.
This is why, back in 2000, NAB introduced the ROOTS research. The fourth such survey, ROOTS 2010, was released late this year. ROOTS, says Bowles, goes so much further – particular for the retail advertising sector – than other research, including AMPS. At a community level, ROOTS is a quantitive survey that “investigates the reading, shopping and leisure habits of decision makers”.
Retailers are big spenders when it comes to newspaper advertising. “They wanted to know if consumers are actually reading those ads and inserts. They want stats, backed up by research and that’s why we invest in this research. We wanted to know about shopping behavior and habits, and whether the readership of local (community) papers relates and uses those ads,” says Bowles.
Random sampling within each community allows for “the extrapolation of the results to the universe of household and decisions makers”. The total sample for 2010 was 23 000 respondents in 3 100 000 households reaching 5 300 000 decision makers. Approximately 200 to 300 respondents per community were interviewed.
The categories covered included clothing and shoes, health and exercise, finance, advertising, reading and shopping habits, groceries, the home, communication, entertainment and reading.
“Retail jumped on this kind of research,” says Bowles. “It drills down to what food and groceries people buy in micro-geographic areas. AMPS can’t go that deep. AMPS will cover Johannesburg, but as I said, buying habits differ from Sandton to Dobsonville. The ‘big’ picture can be misleading.”
The result, he says, is an “on the ground” picture of the shopping communities in geographic areas. The point is to geo segment your market; to gain insight into your market; to quantify consumer behaviour; to check the effects of the recession; to identify business opportunities and to ‘trend’.
“Of course the recession has had an impact on advertising in community papers,” says Bowles. “The big retailers – who are the biggest employers in the country – are spending, but they need to know where to spend in order to compete. They don’t want to duplicate and overspend. So it’s flat.
“It’s the ‘mom-and-pop’ shops that have had to cut back. They’re having a tough time. They’ve cut the size of their ads, and their frequency. Of course, reducing size has impacted on revenues,” he explains.
Bowles says that during a recession, people tend to “shop down”. It’s interesting, he says, how a top end operation like Woolworths “got their act together” ad how and Checkers “jumped in” to take the gap.
“Premium shoppers have come down. Why shop at high end places when you can get the same product cheaper at a big discount chain? The big retailers have buying power. The likes of Game, for example, have scored during the recession. Shoppers have a good experience there,” says Bowles.
South African shoppers, he says, have a particular mindset: “give me a reason to go out my way and out my normal shopping mall and I’ll go…if discount chains give quality products, people will go out of their way to buy them.”
The ROOTS 2010 survey bears this out. Consumers aren’t loyal; they shop around. So, don’t define your target market too tightly. An Edgars shopper also shops at Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay shopper also shops at Spar.
Some snapshots of the ROOTS research. For more, or to buy the research, contact www.nab.co.za