How silly do we expect this silly season to be? Another year has turned and most people have started thinking about the ‘What’, ‘When’ and ‘How’ for Christmas time and the December holidays. This year is an interesting one! The global economy grew at a slower pace versus last year and the next upswing is only expected towards the latter part of 2017. The South African economy has experienced slow growth with heavy political and social burdens. At the moment, it’s time to elect a new US president and South African politics is full of swaying activity.

The consumer goods market is robust with entrepreneurship and business owners pushing innovation to add more differentiation to the market. This SME growth is supported by consumers and businesses alike. The emergence of the new handcrafted, artisanal, marketing for good concepts indicates that society wants more, than satisfying a need. So how does this influence spend within retail?

The retail environment continued to see mushrooming of shopping outlets. South Africa has 4 million square metres of lettable space across major shopping centres, as per research sponsored by South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), Dec2015. The report goes on to say, “South Africa’s mega-malls, or super-regional shopping centres, notched up trading density growth of 4.9 percent year-on-year.”

SA mega-malls growth of 4.9 percent

If people remain indebted and households are under considerable financial burden, where is the income to support a growth in spend coming from? The IDC report released in June 2016, says that there is a double digit decline in spend on durable goods. Decline of 14.4% in the first quarter of this year on things such as vehicles and furniture. Therefore brand owners should plan for an upswing in spend in the last quarter of 2016 in FMCG, as resilient consumers shift priorities to maintain their product purchasing habits.

Here are a few factors to consider in preparation for retail success:

An occasion based offering is extremely important since 79.8% of South Africans are Christian and would generally observe the religious holiday’s traditions. If the brand has an active role to play for this occasion, but is generally considered a “nice to have’, like Christmas stockings or fruit mince cakes, advertisements showing the end gift ideas, will strongly assist the decision to purchase. On the other hand, should the category have no link to the occasion at all but enjoys a secondary upswing, relevance can be created. An unlikely example is Himalayan Salt which participates in the salt category and this category enjoys an upswing due to more dining occasions. The category has also seen premium innovation in recent years. This product has a wonderful story, as it was formed from natural mountain deposits millions of years ago. It is premium enough to create a gift concept that talks to Christmas, thereby creating an additional sales upswing for the annual brand sales cycle. Therefore, with relevance of product and communication, brands can steer incremental sales and listing opportunities.

Analysts expect moderate consumer spending and we can see this from the toned down level of Christmas hype through advertising. This is an excellent opportunity to own more advertising time. Whether you participate in ATL, BTL or digital advertising communication is a must as consumers will consider their purchases more carefully, before deciding to buy. All marketing channels have mechanisms that are attainable for every budget. Social media has seen high adoption rates as the accessibility, admin and costs to participate are low. Social media is a powerful support channel and as per my previous articles, multiple communication platforms should be used succinctly in order to provide weight to conversion.

Doing some research into consumer trends and mapping out if your brand could benefit from these trends might help unlock a new opportunity. For example, festivals and rustic markets have become very popular. Could this be relevant to your brand? Online purchasing is continually increasing… Is your company present in this channel?


Great brands started of being unlikely success stories that turned their fortune around by building experience and making the best moves at the best times. Milton Hershey started 3 different chocolate companies after being fired from a printing apprenticeship. All 3 failed until he started Hershey’s which is now a global brand. You can achieve the same with your brands and business!