Media Redefined: SA consumers — urban, rural and journeying
by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) It’s time to define a third context for South African consumers.
Flying is so easy these days; it’s simple to forget that life exists outside of the big cities. I recently spent some time in a few small towns in the rural Eastern Cape. King Williams Town, Cradock and Queenstown might seem like places of little interest but spend a few hours on their main streets and you will soon realise they are a fundamental cog in South Africa’s unique economy. They are literally humming. Every day. I was in one of these towns on an arbitrary September weekday lunchtime, and the queue stretched out of the KFC and around the corner. Something is definitely going on here.
A country on the move
We are a country on the move. In many ways, we are not dissimilar to the US where, at key moments of the year, there is a mass movement home, wherever that may be.
These journeys in SA are even more consistent throughout the year, as every weekend draws people home to everything from weddings to funerals. There is no doubting South Africans’ commitment to attending key life and death occasions. It is in our cultural DNA.
Understanding this hugely important dynamic requires a fundamental shift in thinking.
The conversation between clients and media planners about urban or rural targeting is usually two dimensional. One or the other. This approach fails to take into account this constant urban-to-rural-and-back movement that criss-crosses the country every day and particularly on weekends and holidays.
Fast-food brands know where their market is
The small towns themselves are starting to look more like typical US towns, with McDonalds, KFC (and Nando’s) outlets — not standard ones but top-of-the-range new and shiny ones — showing that the fast-food brands certainly know where their market is.
It’s time to define a third context for South African consumers: urban, rural and journeying. They might be the same individuals but the mind-set of people on the move is different. They have left their home and are more likely to be thinking about broader issues than the daily grind.
Opportunities to connect with these consumers are also different. More importantly, more impactful and less cluttered. Instead of being time-starved, they are suddenly very time-rich and in a very-captured environment in their mode of transport.
Perfect sampling potential
The towns themselves are small enough to really make a bold out-of-home statement, and the sampling potential at any of these stops could not be more perfect.
I often feel we get very stuck in historic ways of reaching consumers, focusing only on their destinations, the places where they live. It’s time to get more creative and understand more about the journeying. The interesting spaces and moments that this context opens up could be really impactful for a brand.
Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to MarkLives.com.