Ask Afrika’s brand survey reveals that basics are best.

There is no shortage of Brand Surveys in South Africa reports Samantha Koenderman. They all recognise the top brands but few seem to agree on what those top brands are. The latest, The Ask Afrika Icon Brands™ survey, presented its survey findings on Tuesday, 28th July at The Venue at Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.

Perhaps one differentiating feature of this particular brand survey is that it is judged on consumption and not just awareness or likeability. In an increasingly challenging retail environment, where money is tight and loyalty waning, consumers who put their money where their mouth is are the real measure of a brand’s success. And the winners certainly seem to reflect the consumers’ economic constraints – with the basics, such as food and drink brands, featuring prominently.

The highlight of the function, besides the amply stuffed swag bag, was the presentation by Sarina de Beer, MD at Ask Afrika, of the survey’s key findings.

In this consumer-centric competitive battleground the differentiators between brands are changing. In the 1970’s consumers looked for quality and functionality, in the 1990’s they looked for brand and price, in the early 2000’s service, information, and delivery is what was expected. These days the demand on brands goes beyond utility and service delivery, consumers are demanding an emotionally satisfying brand experience. The Ask Afrika Icon Brands™ survey revealed that loyalty remains on a downward trajectory this year, largely because consumers consume brands they are loyal to less frequently due to economic and lifestyle pressures, ‘always’ is now only ‘sometimes’, but also due to an increased likelihood and willingness to try new brands or products. There is an increase in an ‘experimenter’ mentality when it comes to brand choice across product categories.

In this sort of competitive playing field, retaining customer loyalty and finding a winning brand strategy is more challenging than ever. Ask Afrika identified 28 Icon Brands™ that they judge get this right through their ability to truly understand and cater to their consumers’ needs and wants.

Koo Baked Beans was the number one overall winner for the first time ever this year, the brand started in third position in 2010 and is the top Ask Afrika Icon Brand™ five years later. Hullets Sugar came second, All Gold Tomato sauce third, Coca Cola fourth, and McCain Frozen Chips and Potato Products fifth. The top five brands showed consistent good performance across time, enabling them to extend accolades to township markets as well.

Although the top 10 list remains similar to last year, with just a shuffling of positions, there are seven newcomers to the list of 28 Icon Brands. These are Colgate toothpaste, Gillette electric razor blades, Nestle Cerelac infant cereal, Clover fresh milk, BP, Enterprise Vienna sausages and All Gold jam. The food product category dominates the top 10 list, in fact they dominate the whole list. This is perhaps not surprising, but what is surprising, is the poor showing of technology or communications companies in the mix. Nokia was the only tech company, and MTN the only mobile company. And as for financial institutions, none could be found in the top 28.

Ask Afrika 2015 image 1

Sarina de Beer, MD at Ask Afrika quoted Scott Davis saying, “These great brands have a few things in common, they take a stand and commit to living up to it. They serve a higher order purpose that unites the entire ecosystem from employers, to suppliers, to customers. Great brands remain relevant, they create a personal relationship with their consumers and they become great story tellers, they invite the customer into a conversation and allow the customer to participate on his/her terms.”


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