Louise Marsland (@Louise_Marsland)’s weekly pick of recent product, packaging, design and food launches:

  • Retroviral refreshes brand CI
  • SA wine industry posed for growth in 2016
  • African app developers up for global award, and
  • Hertex launches latest African inspired prints

#NewRetro is here

Retroviral logoDigital communications agency, Retroviral, launched its new corporate identity last week with a ‘retro’ look and feel, hashtagged all over social media, et al. NiceWork, Johannesburg, collaborated on the brand refresh with Retroviral.

Explains founder and CEO, Mike Sharman: “We specialise in an industry that is constantly evolving, and it is important that we continue to hunt out trends in order to stay ahead of the curve. We turn five this June and have really focused on refining our offering over the past 18 months, to a four-pillar approach: strategy, content creation, content dissemination, and reporting. With this came the decision to develop a new look and feel, while maintaining the strength of the brand we have created within the South African digital industry.”

Sharman says the ‘retro’ design was inspired by the fact that, while there will always be new channels through which to communicate, the principles of communication are paramount for developing sound strategy. “This is the ‘retro’ aspect of our offering. The ‘v’ in our logo has become synonymous with our brand and something that we wanted to maintain with the evolution of the CI.”

For 2015, Sharman says his agency will “continue to create tomorrow what didn’t exist today”.

And of course, it being Retroviral, the team have also made a video of its year-in-review.

Wine industry set to grow

Wine glassSA’s wine industry not only continues to increase its contribution to the country’s GDP but is also growing job opportunities. This is despite the impact of a muted global economy and a slight decrease in the size of the national vineyard.

What is really interesting is the increase in private wine cellars. Production costs, however, have risen and, as a result, about one-third of wine producers are operating at a loss.

All of this is according to the latest report on the macro-economic impact of the country’s wine industry on the South African economy, prepared by Conningarth Economists for South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS) and released last week. The five-year report covers the period 2008–2013.

The industry remains one of SA’s leading agri-exporters, accounting for 1.2% of the national GDP in 2013. In that year, it contributed R36.1bn to the economy (including wine tourism) via agriculture, manufacturing, trade and hospitality, while generating direct and indirect employment for close to 300 000 people.

Speaking on behalf of the industry, Yvette van der Merwe, executive manager of SAWIS, said SA was the eighth-largest national wine producer by volume worldwide. Yet relative to its competitors in Europe and Australia, it received very little government support for its production and marketing initiatives.

While per capita wine consumption in SA has been hovering at just below 7 litres in recent years, overall demand has been growing by about 4% per annum as new consumers enter the market. The number of private wine cellars has also been climbing, to reach almost 500 by 2013.

Van der Merwe pointed out that local growth in wine sales was helping to offset the ongoing decline in the brandy market, which saw volumes drop by 28% compared to 2008. It takes approximately five litres of wine to produce a litre of brandy.

“From 2016, we can also look forward to the impact of the new EU Trade Agreement, which will raise the EU’s duty-free quota for South African wines from the present 50m litres to 110m litres a year.”

Cheers to that! And for all of you working with the wine industry, the full report is available for download.

African app innovation

Handi'EducA team from Senegal have made it to the global semi-finals of the Ericsson Innovation Award for an app that supports handicapped children in a learning environment. They are the only African entry to have made it this far.

Team Handi’Educ’s web/mobile application has been developed to address challenges faced by children who have vision, speech, hearing and mobility disabilities. The app converts text to audio for the visually impaired and converts speech by educators to text for learners whose speech and hearing might be impaired.

The app was developed by three engineering students in Senegal. Finalists will be announced on 16 March and the winners will be revealed in April.

The 2015 theme for the annual awards promoted by Ericsson is The Future of Learning. The competition was launched in 2009 to spark app development and boost innovation.

Mama Africa

Hertex Mama Africa: Zola SunburntHertex has launched its latest fabric collection inspired by traditional Shweshwe prints, called Mama Africa.

The patterned designs are intended to be bold and colourful, adding true African flair. The intricate patterned designs are printed by a local mill on a linen-mix and cotton multi-purpose base cloth.

The truly South African designs are available in four colourways.


Shelf Life is a weekly column by Louise Marsland. Tweet new product, packaging and design launches to @louise_marsland Louise Marslandor email her at louise.marsland at Want to sponsor Shelf Life? Contact us here.

Louise has written about the FMCG, media, marketing and advertising industry for over 20 years as a former editor of magazines AdVantage, Marketing Mix and Progressive Retailing, as well as websites and FMCGFiles. She also edited the weekly Wednesday Media & Marketing Page for The New Age newspaper. She is currently the publishing editor of industry trendwatching portal, TRENDAFRiCA, for consumer insight, research and trends in Africa; a regular industry columnist and speaker; a consultant on content strategy; and contributing editor to Fast Company South Africa magazine, which has just launched in South Africa.

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