Consumer Sentiment in Retail, Insights for South Africa


The article was written by André Dennis, Africa Consumer Leader, Mike Vincent, Consumer Products sector leader. The article was published by Deloitte, you can find the original article here.

Today’s retailers are confronted by savvy, connected customers who are arguably more engaged than ever before. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have become powerful tools for consumers to engage on virtually all aspects of their lives from relationships, politics, shopping, travelling to any kind of service they may receive

To gain more insights on the South African consumers’ sentiments in the Retail sector, Deloitte Africa partnered with BrandsEye, a data mining organisation that combines AI and crowd-sourced human intelligence to listen in into social media conversations for public opinion.

About the report

The report analysed close to 1.7 million social media posts and other online engagements to gauge particularly the current sentiment of local consumers towards the country’s leading grocery retail chains. Based on this sentiment analysis the report developed five key themes and proposes a number of key interventions for retailers to have more meaningful engagements with their customers and to gear their organisations to become more customer-centric.

Five key themes from the report

  • The price-conscious and value-seeking consumer
  • Personalisation of customer experience
  • Convenience driving innovation
  • The sustainability-seeking consumer
  • Governance and brand

Key take-outs from the report

  • Given the tough consumer environment with about 70% of consumers living beyond their means, South Africans have become increasingly price-conscious and seek value in their purchases. Understanding customer segmentation, retaining cost, creating value and restoring loyalty are important considerations for Retailers.
  • The quest for instant gratification has created a customer expectation of immediate service and attention. Retailers that focus on creating a positive customer experience and employee experience gain competitive differentiation.
  • Innovative offerings such as mobile payments, digital visual product searches and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), take friction out of the shopping journey and increase convenience. Gaining customer insights and enhancing experience through the deployment of digital technologies leads Retailers to competitive advantage.
  • Millennials, Generation Zs and Xs have become increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and the environmental impact their purchasing decisions and shopping habits have. Retailers that demonstrate supply chain visibility and drive sustainable behaviour are well positioned to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive Retail market.
  • International research has shown that especially Generation Zs are concerned about companies’ ethics and tend to judge companies more on their behaviour than purely on the quality of their products and services. Sound ethical behaviour and strong cyber security have become important cornerstones for retailers to protect their brands and reputation.

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