Online shopping for food and alcohol among middle-income South African households soared during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the latest BrandMapp survey.
The BrandMapp 2021 study, which surveyed 30 000 participants after the hard lockdown last year, found that 93 percent of respondents shopped online, a significant increase compared with 2019.
Provisioning online – purchasing day-to-day groceries, alcohol and other necessities – soared during the lockdown, said BrandMapp’s director of storytelling, Brendon de Kock.
“It’s in provisioning where we saw an incredible boom in the e-commerce space. Movement restrictions, alcohol bans and health anxieties drove unprecedented numbers of South Africans online to get the basics of life. In the process, many have now learnt how to do online shopping, and have had the chance to get really good at it.
“They’ve also experienced the joys of grocery and alcohol deliveries to their doors. We’ve experienced that somebody else can actually do our provisioning for us. This has been a significant, probably game-changing, disruption to middle-class South Africa’s shopping habits and rituals,” said De Kock.
BrandMapp surveys South African households with a monthly income of R10 000 or more.
The survey also found that 57 percent of middle-to-high-income consumers prioritised price through sales and discounts, 45 percent were loyal to brands they knew and trusted, and 44 percent said that quality was more important to them than convenience.
De Kock said the results of the survey indicated that saving money was top of most people’s minds.
“The pandemic might have made things worse, but the economic concerns which prompt price-driven behaviour have certainly pre-dated Covid in the country. The concepts of brand loyalty and quality over convenience are also not new priorities for South African shoppers, though we have seen a hiked response to quality in 2020, which is likely to have been pandemic-driven,” said De Kock.
De Kock said what continued to stand out was the low priority South Africans accorded to environmentally friendly purchases.
“It’s a bit sad, but probably speaks to the combination of being chronically financially stressed and the fact that responsible consumerism in South Africa typically comes at a premium price, making it a privilege of the super-wealthy no matter how concerned most of us are about the state of the environment. Realistically, how many people can afford almond milk and meat-alternative burgers?”