Covid-19 Increases Brand Sustainability Awareness, Shifts Consumer Behaviour In Sub-Saharan Africa

A new survey on consumer perceptions and behaviours towards brands conducted by the Madrid-based global communications agency, MARCO, revealed a definite shift that will inform how companies and organisations engage with their target audiences. The “MARCO Research: Post Covid Consumer Behaviour” survey,  was carried out from May to June 2022 with a total sample of 14,200 consumers using an online methodology with representative permission marketing based sampling carried out by CINT.

“Since the pandemic, we have adopted a global consciousness, inevitably reinforced by digitization. This global commitment to soft values ​​has become a key to the brand strategy of companies, advertisers and public institutions,” said Didier Lagae, CEO of MARCO Group. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, the survey was conducted in Kenya, South Africa and Ivory Coast. According to the survey, many people started buying online with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so in future, with 87% of respondents from South Africa having done so, and 99% reporting they will continue buying online.  A similar feedback came from 85% of respondents in Kenya (With 99% saying they will continue to do so in future) and 76% in Ivory Coast (With 98% to continue buying online in future).  

The survey found that 94%, 63% and 84% of the respondents in Kenya, Ivory Coast and South Africa respectively reported having been affected by the pandemic. With people staying at home, TV was found to be the most reliable source of information among 79% of the respondents in Kenya and 74% in both Ivory Coast and South Africa.  This was followed closely by Facebook and Whatsapp.

According to the survey, brand sustainability is increasingly becoming an important factor to consider when buying a product. In South Africa, 75% of the respondents considered the sustainability of a brand as a very important factor to consider when purchasing a product. In Ivory Coast, 73% of the respondents had a similar consideration as did 76% of respondents from Kenya. In addition, survey respondents preferred a brand that is responsible as opposed to that which is trendy, as evidenced by the feedback from 85% of the respondents in Kenya, 82% in Ivory Coast and 88% in South Africa.

Human rights awareness at the workplace is also increasing as most of those surveyed believe that a brand should treat its employees well, as reaffirmed by 77% of respondents in Kenya, 91% in South Africa and 78% in Ivory Coast. Similarly, brands should participate in CSR initiatives, with 82% of respondents in Kenya, 88% in South Africa and 72% in Ivory Coast emphasising that.

Environmental conservation is also given prominence, with 92% of respondents in South Africa preferring brands that care about the environment. Kenya and Ivory Coast had 86% and 87 respectively of the respondents rooting for environmental conservation.

Mimi Kalinda, Co- founder and CEO of Africa Communications Media Group (ACG)/MARCO said: “The findings from this survey reaffirm that the current consumer trends are unlikely to change any time soon, and in response to this, companies all over the world are investing heavily to meet increased demand for environmental awareness from brands. The onus still remains on businesses to tackle these corresponding revolutions in consumer behaviour. We need to focus our efforts on models that have sustainability at their very core

In terms of consumption of digital media, podcasts have become popular, with 69% of respondents in Kenya and 68% in South Africa listening to them. However, they are not as popular in Ivory Coast, where only 37% of the respondents reported listening to them.

Whereas investment in cryptocurrencies is gaining traction in other parts of the world, it seems not to have attracted much attention in Africa as only 50% of respondents in Kenya, 46% in South Africa and 53% in Ivory Coast have invested in cryptocurrencies.

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