South Africa has undergone phenomenal economic transformation to become a sophisticated and promising market. It boasts well-developed infrastructure and vast business opportunities. In recent years, consumer spending patterns shifted considerably thanks to the spread of retail chains offering goods on credit and high rates of urbanization. Africa’s second largest economy represents a huge and expanding marketplace for a wide variety of consumer goods companies. With the growing middle class boosting local consumption, it is a formidable market for technology-based consumer products.
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Tablet sales increased by 107 percent year-on-year since 2012. South African consumers make specific demands; they require affordable prices and good quality products tailored to their needs. Commercial enterprises with the capacity to fulfill these requirements make fortunes at a breakneck pace. To ride the wave, develop an effective marketing strategy aimed at winning the consumers’ minds and pockets. The process can be quite daunting but the rewards are sweet. Your marketing efforts may require the support of efficient and reliable local business partners. The country offers a wide array of advertising and marketing options for your products. Keep reading to find out how to successfully market a product in South Africa.
1. Employ Various Advertising Media
Although television advertising is significantly more expensive in South Africa, it provides a platform to reach a large audience. The medium attracts the attention of a broad spectrum of South African society through several free-to-air and cable television channels, including E.TV, M-Net, SuperSport in addition to SABC 1, 2 and 3. The availability of more television channels enables small to medium companies to tap into the power of TV ads. Although the prime time slots offer the best value for money, they are usually over-subscribed and costly. Depending on the type of products involved, SA television comes with viable daytime and pre-prime time slots suitable for average ad budgets.
Due to burgeoning demand for local programming, the most expensive local TV programs attract the biggest audiences and higher ad rates. Advertising during these shows can be a useful component for generating awareness as quickly as possible. Television advertisements expose SA viewers to different products available on the market, some of which have a great impact on their lives. Ads promoting pioneering health and cosmetic products give hope to viewers suffering from a variety of ailments by bringing the much-needed solutions to their living rooms.
When it comes to radio, South Africa is home to various stations, including national and community stations. The medium enjoys massive listenership; it is the most traditional form of mass entertainment in the country. The majority of the population has access to radio broadcasting, which is available in all 11 local official languages. Promoting your products through radio is a feasible and cost-effective option. Some of the popular stations providing nationwide coverage include 5FM, 702 Talk Radio and Metro FM, among others. Radio ads help change the behavior of SA consumers, particularly when fashionable new products are introduced. The nation is steeped in stylish trends and bling.
Although newspaper readership has been steadily declining, the medium attracts considerable attention from diverse audiences. Major newspapers with a nationwide coverage include the Business Day, Beeld, the Mail & Guardian, The Times and The Sowetan. These publications charge higher ad rates; this is in contrast to regional newspapers, which provide decent localized exposure at affordable rates. South African magazines offer you a smaller but more focused consumer audience. The magazines are a viable option for small- to medium-sized firms.
On the other hand, transit advertising is popular in South Africa; it exposes your products to a captive audience. Local advertising agencies offer space in high traffic public transport vehicles, such as buses, taxis and trains. This option is cost-effective and valuable; the majority of South Africans use public transport daily. The use of multimedia advertising methods, which incorporate video entertainment also serve as a welcome distraction to weary commuters on both short and long distance journeys.
2. Make Use of Sales Agents
Appointing sales agents is another viable option for marketing products in South Africa. The agents offer several advantages, including extensive knowledge of the local market and a network of contacts. You may need to appoint agents in several provinces or towns to maximize exposure. In some cases, it is necessary to start by focusing on the major areas, such as Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. You can find suitable agents by placing advertisements or through networking.
3. Marketing and Promotion
The remarkable growth of the South African mobile phone market created a new and exciting platform for marketing. SMS or text messaging is a cost effective method of delivering targeted sales messages to diverse audiences at the push of a button. A number of service providers offer bulk SMS delivery, audience segmentation and SMS scheduling packages through various mobile phone networks, including Vodacom, Telkom Mobile, MTN, Virgin Mobile and CellC. Permission-based transmissions generally yield better results. The younger segment of SA consumers responds well to ads promoting mobile-based products and services, such as mobile apps, among others.
Conversely, online marketing is under-utilized in most market segments despite a marked increase in internet access. However, the medium has great potential thanks to the proliferation of internet-enabled mobile devices. Social networks enjoy the highest traffic in the country and can be a viable channel to promote products. Likewise, email marketing is still in its infancy and offers limited exposure. South African consumers use their mobile devices to make comparisons and carry out research.
To create networking opportunities, consider participating in trade shows held throughout the year. The events present a superb opportunity to promote your products to potential corporate clients. You can pick the ideal shows based on sector. Some of the events held in the country regularly include Decorex Joburg and Tech Expo Africa, among others.
4. Explore Various Distribution Channels
The country offers a variety of distribution channels, including wholesalers, retailers, distributors, after-sales agents and franchises. Establishing a solid distributor network is a practical way of increasing brand awareness. The country hosts numerous wholesalers, some of which are extensively involved in offshore operations on the continent. Alternatively, you can expand your product reach by targeting retailers. With a population of over 50 million, SA offers a solid customer base.
Local consumers have reasonable disposable income and product placement on retail shelves helps tap into the market. Major retail chains often purchase inventory directly from overseas suppliers. The construction of new malls in areas traditionally served by small- to medium-sized traders is boosting the market. South Africa’s franchising sector is well established and expanding. The area offers a practical alternative for increasing product sales through well-resourced franchisees. You may also need to appoint after-sales agents if your products are of a technical nature.
With a number of prominent players jostling for space, SA’s ecommerce arena is starting to takeoff. Although misconceptions about safety are still rife, the sector is geared for growth and is an awesome platform for targeting the country’s growing middle class. Fortunately, many safer payment methods, including e-vouchers are being introduced to boost sales and consumer confidence. Ecommerce adds a new dimension to the way people in South Africa do their shopping - it provides convenient access to products. This eliminates the need to visit busy malls, thus avoiding traffic congestion, particularly in major centers like Johannesburg and Pretoria.
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To make the right marketing decisions, educate yourself about the South African business environment. Some of the good sources of local information include the Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Trade and Industry. Pay close attention to regulatory requirements to avoid flouting any advertising rules. For instance, The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act (1999) prohibits advertisement and promotion of tobacco products (free or sponsored). On the other hand, you can advertise alcohol in various media but the commercials cannot appear during or immediately after children’s programs. The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) is responsible for the enforcement of the Code of Advertising Practice.
Making use of a local consultant is a sure-fire way of grasping the local conditions quickly. This allows you to focus on the strategic aspects of marketing the products. Follow up on all business arrangements to ensure that terms and conditions are fully understood and implemented. Your marketing strategy must consider that affordability is crucial to cracking the South African market. It takes precedence over strong branding and aspirational marketing.
Have you ever marketed a product in South Africa? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below.