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Old habits die hard – or do they?

Sean Sullivan – Associate Media Consultant at The MediaShop

Changes in consumer habits have taken place on a massive scale due to lockdowns and social distancing decrees. Consumers have had to adapt to work without offices, fitness without gyms and schooling without classrooms. Evergreen trends of cocooning and wellness have intensified as consumers spend more time and money at home.

They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, or so the myth goes. The fact is that it can vary widely depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstances.

The mental impact of the pandemic has run deep, with social distancing intensifying loneliness and anxiety among consumers and the use of virtual communication tools and “hermit tech” becoming more widespread. But the brands that offer reassurance of safety, along with a message of optimism, show solidarity as consumers regain confidence.

Today, our ‘new’ behaviours include online socialising and e-commerce which have penetrated across age groups. New preferences for local shopping and staycations allow consumers to support the community, consume more consciously and live a healthier life. Dense urban lifestyles hold less appeal, while priorities have shifted toward family and household members.

According to Accenture’s COVID-19 Consumer Pulse Research, home continues to be the focus for living, working and shopping despite the lifting of restrictions. Venturing out continues to be a concern as consumer discomfort with travel and public places remains acute.

A new normal for better or worse is becoming apparent, as living with the Coronavirus becomes the way forward. Habits formed during the pandemic that benefit consumers, such as saving money, shopping efficiently and conveniently, and connecting with community are likely to remain sticky.

As retail and leisure facilities reopen, consumers are individually reshaping their lives for this new reality—with implications for retailers. What consumers are buying and how they are shopping has changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic, and these new habits are continuing. In many cases, consumers have used this life pause to reflect on their own consumption. They are striving to shop locally, mindfully and cost-consciously, but even as retailers open their doors to consumers, retail footfall remains below pre-pandemic levels in most countries across the world and consumer confidence is low.

The dramatic rise in the adoption of ecommerce and omnichannel services, which has been evident since the start of the Accenture research, sees no sign of abating. The vast majority of consumers who have increased their use of digital and omnichannel services, such as home delivery, curb-side pickup or shopping via social media platforms expect to sustain these activities into the future.

Health, safety and finances continue to impact consumers’ attitudes and behaviour. In the last three months, personal health and the health of friends and family have remained top priorities for consumers, while fears over finances have grown.

Consumers are still choosing to stay at home. Socialising at home or someone else’s home is still the preferred option for consumers, while connecting virtually with friends remains a high priority and is a trend that’s consistent across all age groups.

The initial rise in home cooking and baking, as well as home improvement and DIY activities, which was evident in earlier research, are remaining popular pastimes for consumers. And the once mandatory working from home has been embraced by many and continues to be popular.

To build consumer confidence, retailers need to understand their new consumers by leveraging data-driven insights and focusing on initiatives that will have the greatest impact, such as visible safety measures in stores and relevant training for store associates on how to best approach consumers and manage new situations.

Home will be the new battleground. With life, work and shopping continuing to focus around the home, retailers need to design services and experiences to meet new consumer needs, as well as increase investments in digital, and maximize the potential of their store network by reconsidering formats and locations.

Retail businesses have a unique opportunity to reset and rebuild for the longer term. How they help consumers navigate the pandemic will influence their future success.

 Source: CMIonline, Christina Rawlins
Accenture COVID-19 Consumer Pulse Research, conducted 2nd-8th June 2020.

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South Africa’s Covid-19 Tracing app – would you download it?

Jarred Mailer-Lyons, Head of Digital at The MediaShop

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, scientists are working around the clock to develop a cure, and on the other side of the spectrum – independent developers and multinational corporations are working at the same pace to develop apps and services related to contact tracing. Closer to home, President Ramaphosa has encouraged his citizens to download SA’s Covid-19 tracing app.

Despite the influx of Covid-19 related apps recently, there seems to be a general census globally that there is a lack of transparency with certain apps when it comes to the collection of personal data.

Of course, multibillion dollar organisations like Google and Apple have very strict guidelines about compliancy regarding the protection of personal information and I am quite sure that if you do a Google search on data protection laws that govern any of these multinational tech giants you’ll be able to find a long list of reading material which may provide some reassurance to some.

But what’s interesting and I speak from personal experience, is that these tech giants have created a sense of trust with their consumers when it comes to their data protection policies – of course there are those instances when it comes to a breach in their data protection and privacy which make some a little more weary than others but the question is, has it ever prompted you to take any action by closing your account or unlinking a profile?

Probably not – and the fact is that sometimes as consumers and even more so South Africans we’re a little more trusting than others and that’s because we have some sort of expectation that reputable organisations like these tech giants, banking institutions and even online stores will respect our right to privacy and they very much do for the most part, that is of course under their control.

We do however live in a world where, when it comes to technology there is unfortunately no guarantee that any personal information that is stored on some cloud is actually 100% safeguarded, and in South Africa it really is no different. Just a few days back, news broke that Experian, a consumer, business and credit information service agency suffered the largest and most significant data breach South Africa had ever experienced – exposing personal information of approximately 24 million South Africans and nearly 800,000 business entities to a suspected fraudster.

So what does this all mean for the average citizen who is potentially going to be required by law later down the line to download the South African Covid-19 Tracing app and use their Bluetooth to track who they have been in contact with… well thankfully the technology is backed by the cutting edge exposure notification system that has been created by Apple and Google. The technology uses Bluetooth to notify users if they have been in contact with someone who may have tested positive for Covid-19.

When it comes to tech, there are always going to be advantages and disadvantages with varying technologies but the advantage of a Bluetooth based system, in terms of privacy, is that it doesn’t depend on collecting location data, and so the individual identities of people are not supposedly tied to contact events. Rather the tracing apps that come into contact with each other through this technology would upload random tracing numbers which could be matched back at a later stage once someone tests positive for Covid-19. Not a surprising approach by the SA Government after the passing of the POPI Act in July 2020.

Currently the app uses Bluetooth and geolocation to collect a user’s personal information and that is then stored within their mobile devices in a model that is known as self-sovereignty identity. The technology is essentially used to manage digital identities which means that the individual users have control over the manner and method in which their personal information is kept and used because the personal data is stored on their mobile device, without the need to rely on a central repository – putting the user in control of their data. Similarly, in the case of the Covid-19 tracing app, the personal information is saved on the user’s personal device and not on a centralised private or government owned database – meaning that the personal information never physically leaves the device and, in a way, protecting the privacy of individuals in line with the POPI Act.

What’s particularly interesting is that the Covid-19 app is a voluntary based one and only for download on smartphones. You’re probably thinking well not everyone has access to a smartphone in SA but we’ve definitely come a long way over the past couple of years with the past two years being at an all-time high for smartphone penetration. We saw an increase by almost 10% between 2018 and 2019 reaching 91.2% of the SA population, according to the ICASA report 2020.

Sure, it’s not the entire population that has access to smartphones but it’s a very significant portion which make sense as to why this route was chosen and we know how often people are browsing on their mobile devices. If we just take a look at the latest Global Web Index report in 2020, the average time spent on a mobile device in SA is sitting an all-time high of 4:06 on average. Of course, data has always been a contentious issue due to the rising costs which has somewhat excluded a large portion of the population from having access but the fact that telco networks have zero-rated the download and usage of the app also make it more widely available to the SA population.

We know that the roll out of a Covid-19 app is not the end solution, it’s not the cure or even the vaccination that will keep this pandemic at bay but for me it’s an opportunity to understand how this pandemic can affect you and those you come into contact with. For many, it’s always difficult putting into perspective the effect it will have on you, your family, friends, community and country until it hits home.

So regardless of whether the app ends up containing the spread of the virus, for me it’s about actually seeing the spread of the virus captured through data as opposed to coming into contact with someone who is infected and being completely blind to it. The app will give a realistic view of the spread in real time.

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Are relationships more important than brand quality and price?

Louise Hefer, Business Unit Manager at The MediaShop

I was driving past an informal settlement not so long ago. The vibrant energy that emits from the sidewalks is tangible with the hustle and bustle of street vendors and people going about their daily tasks.

What I always find interesting is the close proximity of each hawker to one another. In this case, I was looking at four hawkers selling similar items ranging from fresh fruits, peanuts and amagwinya to skopas (my personal favourite) while sitting roughly two metres apart from each other. This made me wonder – in such a close proximity, how do you ensure a person buys your product over someone else’s, especially when there’s no real differentiation?

Normally in cases like this, we’re quick to look at international case studies and best practices. We call on the big brands like Nike, Apple and Amazon to help us navigate and look at how they might approach certain scenarios. We don’t necessarily always notice what’s right on our doorstep, pulling insights from people that sit right next to us or that we might come in contact with.

Consumer needs and decision-making processes don’t vary from when they buy something from the formal sector to when they buy from the informal sector. I do believe there’s a lot of take-outs we can apply across the board, instead of always referring to international best practices. It’s important to speak to a few people to try and get some understanding of the dynamics when engaging in such a scenario.

When looking at the hawker scenario, most of the time the starting price for any product is the same between the four different hawkers. So, what then makes a person buy from the one and not the other? It basically boils down to two factors; the quality of the product (especially when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables), and the relationship with the hawker. We can easily translate this scenario into any environment where consumers have to make purchase decisions.

The quality of a product over another has a huge impact on the decision-making process, especially when money is tight. The product needs to deliver on every cent spent and ensures it doesn’t disappoint. Moving from functional delivery to emotional delivery, the relationship a person has with a brand is another important factor to keep in mind. If they feel comfortable with what you’re saying and how you’re making them feel, they’ll naturally gravitate towards you without thinking about it too much. Yes, price will always play a factor but we shouldn’t discount (see what I did there?) the actual product and relationships.

So if you find yourself in a situation where you know there’s no real differentiation in the product you offer compared to your closest competitor, and there is no room for improvement on product quality, the last and ultimate chance you might have with a person is based on your relationship with them. Do they like what you’re saying and how you’re saying it? Do they feel comfortable in your presence and is there a sense of trust? If you manage to get this right, there’s little that anyone else can do to break that bond!

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Never underestimate the power of showing that you care

Megan Walker, Senior Media Strategist at The MediaShop

The Oxford dictionary defines loss as “the state of no longer having something, or as much of something; the process that leads to this”.

When I was recently asked to submit an article for the blog, with a submission deadline in September 2020, it won’t surprise anyone that as potential subject choices ran through my mind, all things Corona Virus were at the forefront.

This topic has been done to death some might say…and yes, many articles have been written on the losses faced and those still to come as a result of the social and economic impacts of Covid-19. Including the many ways we humans have suffered both physically and psychologically, and are subsequently reflecting on the changes to our world. Many of which will have lasting impact.

My subject choice may not be new, but this article is a chance to share my personal perspective. I write from the perspective of someone who experienced the loss of two friends through the course of lock down; and personally, got sick, tested positive and experienced a rough three weeks due to the Corona Virus.

But it’s not the fact I got sick that is the crux of my article – what I want to voice is my perspective as someone privileged to work for a company that has not just demonstrated dedication to managing the physical fallout of Covid-19 in terms of job security, client management and company sustainability; but also to the emotional and physiological health of its employees. The recent series of webinars on ‘Managing Stress and Loss’ that have been facilitated by the company, with some amazing guest speakers, is the most tangible demonstration of this CARE and concern.

The new ‘socially distanced’ way of working, and being away from our colleagues can make us feel lonely. But on the flip side, history tells us that society can be socially cohesive in times of crisis. By encouraging us to think less about our own interests and more about the interests of others, a shared sense of togetherness has been created. This in itself has led people to look past their differences and collectively respond to the challenges they face.

On a personal level, my own colleagues within the Cape Town office have been nothing short of amazing in showing their true colours. There have been countless examples of everyday care which I have been privy to in the past months. Times where the team has had each other’s backs when someone needed help with work load, or to get advice or bounce an idea off someone, or just to lend an ear when someone needed to de-compress. And the result of this is, that we all feel bonded to each other more than ever before.

This aspect of demonstrating care is not just relevant in our one on one interactions or personal interactions; but also, its more important than ever for BRANDS. Accenture Strategy’s Global Consumer Pulse Research , revealed that consumers, across all generations, care about what retailers say and how they act. At this time of intense uncertainty, the key attributes that underpin trust in a brand are different than even a month ago. Building trust and loyalty in a time of crisis can make or break a brand. When asked what factors make consumers trust brands more, the top three responses focused on the well-being of customers, the well-being of employees, and not taking advantage of the crisis to maximize profits; in other words – CARE.

Organisations showing up for their employees is one of the top reasons that consumers trust any given brand. Recent data shows that during uncertainty, workers are looking to employers and managers to lead even more than they are looking to governments and other organizations for direction.

And consumers are watching. A recent Qualtrics survey shows that 54% of them say they are concerned with how employers are treating their employees in this time of crisis. Better treatment fuels brand trust, with 48% indicating they trust brands more when they take care of their employees. And the same holds true for genuine concern demonstrated (not just expressed) by a brand for its customers.

In the face of the Covid-19 crisis, brands must figure out how they can help, and what actions can be taken that are consistent with their values and abilities. Brands have an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of trust with consumers. It’s logical that if a person genuinely feels a sense of care and community from friends, family and colleagues that it strengthens our bonds and commitments to each other; that brands demonstrating genuine care will benefit from strengthened customer bonds and loyalty too.

To borrow from the words of the British chancellor Rishi Sunak, I believe that those that rise to the occasion will be able “…to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective effort, and we stood together”.

Demonstrating CARE may be an important human and consumer insight that is more relevant than ever right now – but it will always be important, therefore let this shared sense of care be one of the new habits that continues long into the future.

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Local pub and grill Gas Monkey moves to Emerald!

It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that Emerald Resort & Casino welcomes the popular and iconic, Gas Monkey Pub & Grill to the Resort! The move is currently underway with an expected opening towards the end of September.

Taking over the previous space that Sports Bar and Breeze occupied, Gas Monkey are in the process of converting the Breeze area into the new dining and bar space while the Sports Bar gets transformed into a space for music, entertainment, DJ’s and dancing over weekends.

“Visitors to the Resort will see some large scale changes happening where Breeze and Sports Bar used to be,“ says  Mark Hands, Resort Director at Emerald Resort & Casino. “Work has already begun on the transformation and we expect Gas Monkey will be serving their very first signature dishes and drinks as soon as the end of September.”

According to owners of Gas Monkey, Graham Duncan and Shawn Delport, discussions with Emerald Resort & Casino have been ongoing for over 12 months as they had outgrown their current location and with the further need for social distancing, things just did not stack up.

“It is a rare opportunity to be able to work with a brand like Emerald Resort & Casino and we intend to grow Gas Monkey even further given the opportunity that we now have. Over and above this new space being a lot larger than our old one, there are a number of other advantages to the move. These include introducing a children’s play area, a large outside area under the Lapa which will not be affected by the rain or cold, the opportunity to have live entertainment again, separation of the dining area from the dancing area and more importantly a much better experience for our valued customers.”

The menu has had an overhaul too with many new dishes added. The dining area will focus on family and the new menu reflects this dining experience. “We’ll also be taking over the wood fired oven outside to serve pizza, which is a totally new aspect to our offering.”

As before, signature dishes include various delicious Jaffles and Monkey Pots of different sorts. The speciality Gatsbys and Signature Burger is something that everyone must try, not forgetting the popular Hulk/Monkey juice. The pub and grill is renowned for this secret alcoholic slushy which is bound to get visitors coming back for more. Yet another first on offer will be their thirst quenching cocktails, available on tap.

“The whole ethos of Gas Monkey in terms of catering to families, fits in so well with our views and offerings that families have come to expect at the Resort,” concludes Mark. “We look forward to working together closely with Graham and Shawn to provide our guests with even more entertainment and culinary experiences.”

Graham concludes: ”We would like to take a moment to thank Emerald Resort & Casino for this great opportunity and especially our loyal customers for their support over the past three and a half years, we truly appreciate everyone’s support and hope to see everyone enjoying themselves at our new venue and home – soon.”

View all of the Health and Safety regulations* on the Emerald Resort & Casino website at

For all other up to date information visitors are encouraged to stay close to their Facebook and Twitter pages, or guests can visit for more information on any of the events mentioned here.


Emerald Resort & Casino.

Tel:                              016 982 8000





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