One of Eskom’s recent forecasts claimed that loadshedding will continue until 2027. The medium-term adequacy report that Eskom released in October mentioned that situation would worsen with the plant performance of the fleet trending downwards, power stations shutting down and demand growing. With loadshedding here to stay we did some digging into the effects on the daily lives of ordinary South Africans, in an online dipstick with the general public.
One troubling issue we found is network signal. Considering that as businesses are not able to operate optimally without a steady network and that card payments often become trickier when the network is down; this issue affects both businesses and consumers to a concerning degree. Our research showed that on average, across all networks, over half of respondents claimed that their network signal has been worse than it had been in the past over the past 3 months. MTN and Cell C appear to be the worst affected. MTN is performing especially poorly in the rural areas and small towns with 68% of respondents claiming that their network signal has been worse than it has been in the past over the past 3 months, with 38% mentioning it has been far worse.
With loadshedding as extreme as it has been recently, it was not surprising to see that 90% of our respondents have purchased something to assist with loadshedding in the last 3 months. The most purchased items were power banks (58%), gas stoves (47%) and self-charging light bulbs (44%). Discounted product bundles aimed at easing the inconvenience of loadshedding might prove to be popular in this category.
Fast food brands also seem to be benefiting from loadshedding in that 77% of respondents have at some stage replaced cooking with takeaways directly due to loadshedding, mostly dinners. This was seen to a far higher degree in the main metros where busy lives make it far harder to plan for the rapid changes in loadshedding stages. 79% bought from KFC most often followed at quite a distance by Debonairs (42%) and McDonalds (35%). KFC offers family meals which might be a more affordable option when replacing dinner with takeaways for the whole family. Family meals and loadshedding discounts could go a long way to gaining market share.
Around half of the respondents stay away from home to avoid loadshedding by going to visit family or friends, going to the mall / shops, and visiting restaurants of which those with generators would be the clear winners. A whopping 69% of respondents claimed to have changed their shopping behaviour when it comes to groceries. Millennials are driving this with 85% claiming that they have changed their shopping behaviour. This could be possibly involve purchasing more non-perishables and likely opting for stores with generators as well as possible increased weekly shopping trips to avoid losing perishables.
With so many changes in consumer behaviour directly influenced by loadshedding there are opportunities to adapt marketing strategies to aid consumers with these changes.