A lack of brand loyalty and random consumer behaviour were two of the key findings coming out of the latest ROOTS research.
Debbie McIntyre, head of integrated media solutions at Spark Media, took attendees at last week’s unveiling event through some of the top line findings, which included the fact that use of internet daily is going up in every single area surveyed.
A trend emerging from the research, reassuring for Spark Media, is that local newspapers are still really relevant in people’s lives. “Sure they’ve got lots of other things that they are able to do, sure they’ve got choices, but they still choose to engage and pay attention to their local paper every single week … They truly are are the way to get mass reach in print in South Africa,” comments McIntyre (left).
The research also showed a slight change in how people shop during a month, from a single bulk buy shop to more regular, twice a month shopping trips.
“Convenience is key, there’s a huge increase in number of stores, and the implication for retailers is that it’s more opportunity for them to get into people’s shopping baskets,” says McIntyre. She also reveals that online shopping, even though it’s still in its infancy, is growing, particularly in areas where it’s convenient to do it.
Buyer behaviour insights
Four key takeaways were presented by McIntyre, the first of which was lack of brand loyalty. Even though the loyalty card category saw an increase in the latest ROOTS research, the sharing aspect also increased i.e. people are not loyal to brands, switching between them based on numerous factors. This was reinforced further by other consumer responses. “Area by area, category after category, ROOTS shows us that consumers are not loyal to just one retailer,” stresses McIntyre, advising that “brands just have to keep working at it, that they are relevant, so that more people choose them more often”.
The second takeaway was randomness, specifically the fact that consumers often act in unpredictable ways.
“People do behave randomly, very hard to predict at an individual basis what people are going to do. They have things that happen in their lives that influence how they behave,” explains McIntyre.
Brands need to target high propensity, cluster areas to maximise their chances of catching consumers at a particular time with a particular need. “It’s important to try and continuously connect, because you never know when any people are going to come into the particular market. You know they will come in, but not when, so it’s important to plan for continuity,” advises McIntyre.
Humans have two systems that they use for thinking, the conscious and unconscious. 95% of decisions are made using the unconscious system, which is fast, impulsive, instinctive, and automatic, so brands need to work with the brain and use an approach that appeals to this system.
“Humans are hardwired to make decisions quickly and conserve energy. Our brains don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking, they’ve got lots of other things to do… Brands need to make it easy to buy and easy to be thought of,” adds McIntyre.
The local imperative
People choose to live and shop locally, in geographic areas that suit them and are convenient to their life stages and lifestyles. Travelling time considerations need to be in place, along with targeting of high clusters and catchment areas for users and stores. Geo-segmentation should be your primary segmentation tool.
After McIntyre concluded, Gill Randall (left), chief executive officer of Spark Media, addressed attendees, unpacking the shift needed in the approach of marketers to consumers.
“Marketing is not about creating USPs or personalities for your brand or points of differentiation,” Randall says.
“It’s about creating mental availability, ‘how do I get my brand or store to be thought of by as many people on as many occasions as possible’. Then the second bit is about making sure your distribution works, so your brand is accessible.”
And she adds: “The overall goal is mass, effective reach, not frequency or tight targeting, or personalisation campaigns. Those things are based on a loyalty strategy. It’s great as an add-on thing, but it’s based on a not very good understanding of brand function or buyer behaviour. Your number one priority should be maximising quality reach. Not talking to enough potential buyers is like building a cathedral in the desert,” she adds.
The building blocks of data
As part of this ROOTS release, Spark Media partnered with Lego. As Randall comments, “We can relate to Lego’s legacy. It still keeps going, having stuck to its core, while evolving and creating new markets. Lego is aligned with what we’re trying to say. We get so seduced about what’s changing among the few, that it distracts us from some of the things that hasn’t changed with the majority.
“Lego’s payoff line is ‘serious play’. We want you to do that with the ROOTS research, be curious and explore it.”
The research methodology
ROOTS research is commissioned by Spark Media every three years and is done by Kantar. It covers over 120 communities across South Africa as 27 000 shoppers are interviewed using a 50-minute, tablet-based interview. A partnership with Ads24 this year added another 16 areas to the research. Cluster random probability sampling is used as part of the methodology.
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