Life in a township or Kasi environment is complex and there are multiple dimensions that need to be taken into account when trying to understand the Kasi consumer, writes Sarina de Beer.
Demographics such as education, age, race, gender, and cultural alignment are hugely significant, and each individual will have their own sense of style and taste, as would be found in a city or suburb. There are however four distinct sub-cultures identified by Ask Afrika in the Kasi Star Brands survey that can add another layer of insight into understanding the township shopper.
Kasi Star Brands measure township specific brand usage across 163 categories and are a spinoff of Ask Afrika Icon Brands, which are brands that are used most loyally by consumers across all socio-economic, cultural, racial, and other divides. New Ask Afrika Icon Brands winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Johannesburg on 21 July 2015.
Twenty four Kasi Star Brands were announced by Ask Afrika in this new benchmark. South African township consumers voted with their wallets and hearts to identify these top brands that are used most loyally by South Africa’s township consumers.
Within the Kasi landscape proximity does not imply sameness, there is a culture of commonality which is always everywhere, but this too is changing. People are also more aware and protective over their own progress. It is a living space characterised by social mobility and this dictates spend. There is no linear relationship between income and spend, perception often outweighs reality and is loaded with symbolism. We are dealing with hybrid consumers buying across the price spectrum.
Everything for the Kasi consumer is calculated and planned with a very specific return in mind. ROI is thus a pre-requisite, but looks different depending on the subculture one identifies with. Money is not spent where the return is not obvious. This could be to make money work harder for the individual, to provide for family, to drive convenience, to build a future, to keep up with the Jones’ or pretend to, but not a cent is spent without a very distinct plan, reason or purpose ensuring a ROI for the individual personally. This ROI can be: being perceived as a good woman, cook or mother, gaining social mobility or status, creating a better life, supporting black consciousness, or expressing access and identity.
The four Kasi sub-cultures that were identified through psychographic segmentation and socio-economic status are: Keep it Real (self actualisers) 24% of the township population; Social Engineers (pretend and survivalist) 27%; Make it Work (it’s a hard life) 29%; and Passive Onlookers (almost giving up) 24%.
The Keep it Real group or self actualisers generally have a tertiary or post-graduate degree and are employed. They are mainly live in Gauteng or Limpopo. Even though this group is likely to have a bank account they don’t necessarily feel more financially secure due to the fact that they are less careful with their money. The Keep it Real group enjoy reading cooking magazines and newspapers. Many have gone to a Cinema Nouveau and they claim to enjoy scandal and gossip. Family is important to the Keep it Reals and they are more likely to support a charity than other groups. They feel strongly about safety and their cars tend to be equipped with all the possible safety features. They enjoy good quality things and have individual taste in clothing which they feel expresses their social standing. This group is not necessarily proudly South African and don’t think that it is necessary to support companies that display South African branding.
The Great Pretenders are social engineers, they are employed, get UIF, have part time jobs, or get grants, and have individual incomes of R3000-R5999. They are found predominantly in the Free State and are on the whole proudly South African. The Great Pretenders often have sophisticated banking products. It is important to be attractive and young looking. This group are more likely to be married and living together, they put their families first and many have children from pre-school to university age. They are not so interested in sports and spend a lot of time watching television. They are more likely to be adventurous in their cooking and to try new recipes. The main shopper is mostly a female.
The Make it Work group have a hard life and are generally unemployed with no personal income. Families do not spend a lot of money on food and shop around for the best prices, they do not spend much time preparing or cooking food and are unlikely to try new recipes. This group is found predominantly in the Eastern and Western Cape and are often young adults of both sexes who do little exercise and spend a lot of time watching television. They are often proudly South African. On the whole they are likely to be traditional and believe that a woman’s place is at home. They enjoy spending time with their families and often have children from pre-school to university age.
The Passive Onlookers are almost giving up, they are unemployed and most likely to be 15 to 17 or over 65 and unemployed. This group have mostly completed Grade 9 and generally live in North West and Mpumalanga. They, on the whole, have a transactional account, they are not financially secure and do not trust banks. Their diet consists of basic food and they don’t often sit down together for meals at home and do not really enjoy cooking. Little interest is shown in health or physical appearance. They are comfort dwellers and are primarily conservative, but are also self-focussed. They do little activity and spend a great deal of time watching television. The main shopper is generally female.
One cannot think of township residents as walking demographics. Proximity does not create homogeneity, it is important for brand owners to understand how to deliver the best return on investment (ROI). Marketers need to understand the complex levels of planning, calculated living in the township environment, where purchase decisions are often less impulsive and spontaneous.
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