March 12, 2019
March 12, 2019

Foshizi is among the few market research and strategy companies specialising in the mass market, with 15 years at the forefront of territory that, before, was largely uncharted. Since comprehensive studies on consumers in this space have been long overdue, there are often surprising insights revealed.

media update’s David Jenkin spoke to Lebo Motshegoa, Foshizi’s founder and managing director, about how brands can respond to the pressures facing mass market consumers.

What is Foshizi all about?

Foshizi is a research and strategy agency. We do market research for clients and, thereafter, draft a strategy based on the insights gathered from the research. We are based in Johannesburg with a presence in SADC, West Africa, and East Africa.

We believe that not everything has been discovered, which is why we are always thriving to reinvent research by coming up with new creative research methodologies that reflect the times we live in.

We talk to your target market in their own language and in their own territory, whether it is in their homes, in their cities, businesses, townships, suburbs, or deep rural areas, we go where the research takes us. We are about ‘real’, hence the name Foshizi, which means REAL.

As brand loyalty tends to suffer during tough times, would you say there is a silver lining there in terms of new opportunities for others? 

Yes, most definitely. Declines in brand loyalty are also driven by:

  • Premiumisation of dealer’s own brands;
  • An array of products to choose from; and
  • A demand for versatile products with multiple uses and ability to stretch.

Does that play out in practice?

Just as an example, buying unbranded bread and cheaper beverage brands is now acceptable.

As belts are tightened, what are mass market consumers generally looking for from brands? What should brands be seeking to do from their side in order to assist consumers? 

The rising cost of living (food, transportation, utilities) was said to be one of the reasons why most respondents don’t save or save very little. Those who did save, often dipped into their savings to cover living expenses, whilst those who didn’t, found themselves having to borrow from friends and neighbours every month.

This, therefore, paints a picture of what is happening in their lives, hence the following:

  • The market is searching for products and services that will help stretch the little they have;
  • It is pivotal to meet the customer halfway to avoid being excluded in their budget;
  • There is an opportunity to offer ’down-time/me-time’ products or services that will help consumers cope with the stress in their lives;
  • Products and services provided should have the option of full-board/half-board offerings, which will allow customers choice when cash-strapped; and
  • There are opportunities for FMCG’s to offer cheaper and refillable packaging. There is an opportunity for single serve packaging across channels as well.

Is there anything you’d especially advise brands do or not do in practice and/or in messaging?

Show the value for money your product brings to the customer or stand a chance to be placed in the non-essential list, and put the product offering first, then brand after.

Agencies seem to have put brand first, communication, and then the consumer at the end in the order – which is why the consumer is also so far removed from the brand.

What we should be doing is going back to the basics, where consumer came first. We asked what problem is our product solving for the (now cash-strapped) consumer, we used to highlight our differentiator, and only then did we then put a brand at the end. A brand is not a USP; especially if that brand is not a luxury brand.

Can you give us an example or two of unexpected/surprising market insights Foshizi has found?

  • Women looking for ‘blessers’ and men cutting down on multiple girlfriends; and
  • There is frequent mention that younger members of the household are more experimental shoppers as they are more likely to try out new products that the family might end up benefitting from and eventually liking in the long term.

Would you say there is a fundamental difference in the way millennials in emerging markets are engaging with brands today, as compared to past generations? If so, what characterises that difference?

Yes, but let’s first clarify something very important. In South Africa, there are two generations that exist within millennials. In other words, the 18 to 24-year age group has different priorities and is at a different life stage compared to their siblings who are 25 to 34-years-old.

What is interesting is that a black millennial, 18 to 24-year-old, is troublesome for most black families because they don’t follow the norm that their older siblings did when they were their age. For example, the 18 to 24-year-old would quit a job without consulting their parents, whereas their older siblings, 25 plus, are more likely to still consult their parents on a life-changing decision.

Anyway, back to your question – they want brands to be honest, accessible and prompt. So you have to put your money where your mouth is. They are, therefore, turned on by the likes of Debonairs (if it’s black it is free), Car Track (if they can’t find your car, they will pay you) and Outsurance (if they can’t beat your price, they will pay). Lastly, the overall group is loyal to their friends, so word of mouth is stronger in this segment than a ATL.

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